For most parents, back to school means as a parent you get a break from the crazy of summer. You know what I am talking about, right? A small voice in your head is sad that they are going back to school, but you are also celebrating that little bit of freedom that you are about to have because of it. School shopping is done; you have just dropped them off for their first day and HALLELUJA sing the praises, right? But then you have the crazy schedules of school, kids getting sick, and other things that make the school year almost as crazy as the summer!
This year, we had the opportunity to take a much-needed family vacation as a part of work, and we jumped at the chance. After a long August – really a long summer – we needed it, short as it was. But that also meant that one of my kids had to miss a day of school to make it happen. I felt really guilty about it, but I also knew that I had the tools at my disposal to ensure that he would not fall behind on anything from missing that day.
The fact is, we are lucky. Because millions of kids are missing school each week, leading to chronic absenteeism. A student who misses just two days of school each month — 18 days total in the year — is considered to be chronically absent. However, many parents don’t realize that, even when absences are excused or understandable, absences add up and can greatly impact a child’s education. In the United States, more than 6 million children are chronically absent from school each year.
One third of parents surveyed admit that they could do more to ensure that their child attends school every day. There are many reasons why students miss school when they don’t have to. Some are struggling in the classroom, while others may be having trouble with bullies, or dealing with challenges at home.
Children who are chronically absent in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade are less likely to read on grade level by the third grade. Students who cannot read at grade level by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
The Absences Add Up campaign directs parents and community members to AbsencesAddUp.org, where they can find information about the importance of school attendance and resources to learn how to help children who are struggling in school, being bullied, managing chronic illness, or addressing mental health challenges. The site also provides parents with resources to assist with caregiving, housing and food challenges. For teachers, community leaders, after school programs, and mentoring partners, there is information about how to encourage school attendance and resources to help address issues like poor grades, bullying, and family challenges that cause children to miss school when they don’t have to.
Key Takeaways for Parents
- Every absence matters.
- Absences matter as early as elementary school.
- Absences matter whether they are excused or unexcused.
- Students who miss just two days of school each month, or 18 days in a year, are more likely to fall behind in reading, writing and math and less likely to graduate from high school.
Tips and Suggestions
- Keep track of how many days of school your child has missed.
- Figure out why your child is absent from school.
- Are they dealing with a chronic illness like asthma?
- Are they being bullied or struggling at school?
- Are they staying home to help care for a family member?
- Visit AbsencesAddUp.org to find help addressing the underlying cause of your child’s absences.
- Ask teachers and community leaders for advice and specific resources in your area.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to other parents in your area to ask for help and share tips.
Give others a wakeup call – share on social media!
- 12 family emergency days + 6 vacation days = risk of not making it to graduation day. Visit AbsencesAddUp.org today. #AbsencesAddUp
- 2 absences per month = less likely to read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. #AbsencesAddUp AbsencesAddUp.org
- The best way to ensure success for our kids? Get them to school every day. Visit AbsencesAddUp.org for tips #AbsencesAddUp
- Did you know that missing 2 days of school each month makes it less likely a child will graduate from high school? #AbsencesAddUp
- Every day in class = 1 day closer to graduation. Learn more about ensuring our kids’ success at AbsencesAddUp.org #AbsencesAddUp