Back to School 2019: Becoming Attendance Heroes

attendance works

School is back in session! If you’re a caregiver, your mind is probably buzzing with questions like: Is my child a strong reader? What subject will my child fall in love with this year? What new friends will my child make this year?

We all want our children to enjoy school and to be successful. Research shows that helping children get to school every day, on time, sets them up for success. Making perfect attendance (at least 95% attendance) is not just the priority of caregivers but the entire community that supports children.

Here are ways schools, educators, and parents can take action to help our students reach perfect attendance:

attendance works

Creating an attendance culture.

Schools can create an attendance culture that provides the support families need to overcome barriers to perfect attendance:

  • Setting monthly attendance goals as opposed to a yearly one gives students a fresh start each month to strive for perfect attendance. Shorter-term goals can be more manageable for families facing challenges such as health issues or housing instability,
  • Conducting a school self-assessment provides a reflective look into strengthening a school’s attendance culture. Check out the attendance toolkit for a school self-assessment guide.

Communicating with caregivers.

Educators know it’s important for children to be present for every moment of learning time. At times, caregivers might need a reminder about why attendance is so important. Here are a few talking points to get the conversation started:

  • “Children with good attendance in kindergarten are more likely to read on grade level by the end of the year—and are more likely to read on grade level by the end of 3rd grade, too.”
  • “It’s important to arrive on time. Reading is taught first thing in the morning—we don’t want children to miss a moment.”

Find resources for families who are facing barriers to attendance related to transportation, health issues, housing instability, or tough work schedules in the attendance toolkit.

attendance works

Making a family attendance checklist.

Families, each action you take to get your children to school on time creates good habits that will continue with students into college or whichever career path they choose. Here are a few tips to cultivate habits that last a lifetime:

  • Build regular routines for bedtime and the morning like getting clothes and backpacks ready the night before and setting a regular wake-up time.
  • Find out what day school starts so you can map the best way to school ahead of time.
  • Create a backup plan for getting to school in case of any complications. Ask a family member, neighbor or another parent for help.

All students can experience issues around attendance and tardiness. When children miss school (or arrive late or leave early) they are missing out on opportunities to strengthen their reading, explore new topics that they might end up loving, and make new friends.  When we form a community around our children’s attendance, we champion their success.

Check out the attendance toolkit for more attendance ideas and resources.


This article originally appeared on the Free Library of Philadelphia’s blog.