Our guest blogger, Dr. Weinberger is the President, Mentor Consulting Group located in Norwalk, CT. She consults to families, schools, business, religious groups and community members regarding the needs of youth and the strategies to address them.
When I was a kid growing up in Brookline, MA, we had a Truancy Officer. His role was to travel the streets in my town every day after the opening bell of school, look for young people who were hanging out in the wrong places, especially high school students, put them into his automobile and transport them to school where they belonged. Even then so many years ago, schools knew about the importance of youth being in school every day and on time. Today chronic absenteeism is a serious educational crisis. What can parents do to reduce it?
Parents are their children’s first teacher. They are responsible for their emotional and social health and well being. Parents work hard to ensure that children are caring, respectful, fair, motivated, kind, empathetic, safe, secure and responsible. Parents provide the roots of good character and decision making skills. They monitor boundaries including the use of social media and provide strong parental discipline.
The list of their duties is daunting. Parents also need to get their children off to school every day and on time. It can be a challenge at times. There are many reasons why. Issues around transportation, parents who work early morning shifts leaving their children to get up and off to school on their own and on time and the need for children to care for younger siblings are some of the reasons why students don’t always have outstanding school attendance.
There are major negative outcomes when youth are not in school every day. These include the potential for academic failure, and poor socio-economic consequences. Being in school leads to achieving in school. Achievement, especially in math, is very sensitive to attendance. Attendance strongly affects standardized test scores, graduation and dropout rates. (You can read more here: The Importance of Being in School: A Report on Absenteeism in the Nation’s Public Schools. Everyone Graduates Center.)
How can parents reinforce good school attendance? First, they can discuss with their children why being in school every day is important. Daily charting of school attendance on the kitchen refrigerator, my favorite location and rewarding results can reinforce the effort. But improving school attendance must be a community effort. Based on the “it takes a whole village” theory, parents can form a partnership with family members, neighbors and other community members. Parents with transportation issues, for example, may investigate forming a car pool. The offer of others to pick up your children to get them to school can include a little bartering; that is, you trade attendance with offering babysitting, food shopping or other services when convenient to demonstrate gratitude for their kindness.
Schools are a critical partner in stressing the importance of good attendance. Parents who engage in discussions with their children’s teachers can help to reinforce the importance of reducing absenteeism. When school staff acknowledges good attendance through posters, morning announcements, assemblies and the local media, the message reaches students. Principals set the tone for the entire school. When they greet families every morning, send letters home and have teachers check homes of students who are not attending and help to address the barriers, school attendance will improve. Parent Teacher Associations can also play a role in developing programs to educate parents and families. Community agencies and volunteers can help get the word out even before school starts every fall.
Improved school attendance is everyone’s business. We need as many cheerleaders as possible to hop on a community Attendance train. It begins with parents.
About: We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your donations are greatly appreciated. (Donations are payable to Banana Moments Foundation).
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and consultant on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. She is a former technology executive trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, a mother of two grown sons, and an author of books for practical guidance on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture. As a family and technology culture advisor, Joanna has appeared on 103.9FM The Fish, 710AM Keeping Faith in America, 1380AM The Answer, and Examiner.com.