Rooted in Academics
Showing Up Matters
The Superintendent's Blog
Dr. John Schwartz
There’s power in being present. Anyone who has ever tried to cheer someone up and struggled to find the right words often finds that just being there makes the real difference. The same goes for school. It lasts thirteen years for a reason. Earning a diploma is a process, one nobody can achieve without steady, consistent effort. While there are many defining moments - the culminating project or exam, the big game, graduation - none occur in isolation. It is daily actions and commitment that make the large accomplishments possible.
The first step to anything is getting ourselves there. Strangely, it often feels like the hardest part. Once we show up, so often the momentum and the energy of people around us starts to help us along. Even when we might not have felt like it at first, we find ourselves moving forward with the day. In the process, we learn, get work done, and end up a little better than when we started. Each day builds on the last one.
That’s where the challenge comes in for our students who are chronically absent. Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing ten percent or more days of school in an academic year. That’s approximately 18 days. It might not sound like a lot over the course of an entire school year until you consider how learning builds on itself. Every time a student misses a lesson, they have to catch up as everyone else zips along. Then they must push ahead with the lessons they missed, plus keep up with the new lessons. Just like the momentum builds when we’re present, it can also accelerate in the other direction. Too often missed days lead to feelings of frustration and apathy. Chronic absenteeism has been linked to many negative outcomes such as third graders unable to read proficiently, sixth graders struggling with coursework, and high school students being off track for graduation - to name a few.
Helping all students to maintain good school attendance is a shared responsibility between the school, parents, and students. By working together, we can ensure that each child receives the maximum benefit from their time in the classroom. To that end, below are some ways parents can support and encourage good attendance during the 2023-24 school year:
- Establish a Consistent Routine: Set a regular bedtime and morning routine to ensure your student is rested and ready to learn. Routines can make the mornings before school go more smoothly.
- Plan Vacations and Appointments Wisely: Whenever possible, schedule family vacations and routine appointments outside of school hours. This reduces disruptions for your child and sends the message that school is important.
- Model Engagement: Take an active interest in your student’s experiences in school. Discuss their day, inquire about homework assignments, and review school information sent home with your student. Take advantage of the many avenues in Millard Public Schools to stay informed about the academic progress of your student.
- Set an Example: Demonstrate the value of education by attending school events and activities such as parent-teacher conferences, open house, and other scheduled school meetings. When your student sees that school matters to you, it reinforces how important it should be for them. When your schedule does not allow you to attend these events and activities, demonstrate you still care by following up with the school and your child.
- Celebrate Successes in School: Recognize and celebrate the accomplishments and milestones of your student. Positive reinforcement which recognizes effort and individual growth can encourage students to stay engaged and motivated, and this increases the desire for the student to attend school and engage in the learning process.
- Communicate the Importance of Regular Attendance: Talk to your student about the importance of attending school regularly. Helping them understand that how they perform in school establishes important routines that lead to success not only in school but also in life. Below are some talking points adapted from the Attendance Works organization to consider when talking with your student about attendance:
- School is your first and most important job. Students are learning about more than reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. They are learning how to show up for school on time every day, so that when they graduate and get a job, they will know how to show up for work on time every day.
- Students who attend school regularly are more likely to perform well in school, graduate on time, and have more opportunities to succeed after high school. Simply stated, there are more doors open for people who show up and are reliable.
- School only gets harder when you miss school. It can be tempting for students to want to stay home when school becomes challenging or they feel behind. However, missing another day of school will only make this worse.
Regular school attendance is critical for students’ academic achievement. Occasionally we all miss a day of work or school, and when a child is sick, they need to stay home. But when the missed days start to stack up, we want to help. We understand there are real issues, needs, and conflicts. If you are experiencing a challenge that is keeping your child from regularly attending school, I encourage you to reach out to a teacher, school guidance counselor, or principal. Think of school as a resource. It takes a village to raise a child. We want to be a partner in your student’s success.
We are in this together. Join us, stay connected, and keep learning.