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School Attendance

It matters more than you may think!
Arkansas education law requires that all children, ages six through 16, attend school regularly. Making sure that they are there each day is the parent's responsibility.However, the importance of school attendance goes beyond meeting the letter of the law. In order for kids to be successful, they need to be in school and on task every day. This is more important now than ever before.Attendance and academic achievement go hand-in-hand1.  Remember that good attendance benefits your child's education.  Students who miss a day of schol not only miss instruction but must make up work and catch up with the new material at the same time.

2.  The coursework in today's schools is simply more challenging than it used to be - and students who are frequently absent are setting themselves up for serious academic problems.

3.  Students must take a series of important state tests that measure their abilities in English/language arts, math, science and social studies. Students who come to school each day and work hard at their studies fare better on these tests - showing they have the foundation necessary to do well in high school where the stakes are even higher.Students who score poorly on the exams or other key exams receive academic intervention services. This may include remedial classes, one-on-one tutoring, summer school classes or other services to help them catch up academically. Yet playing "catch-up" is something students should try to avoid since it will seriously limit their high school coursework options and could delay graduation.The bottom line: Making sure your child is at school every day is one of the most powerful ways parents can ensure success - in elementary school, middle school, high school and beyond.Other benefits of good attendanceMaking school attendance a priority can also help your child learn good work and study habits. On average, students have one to two hours of homework each night. Even one missed day can mean having to tacklethree or more hours of homework the following night - practically a guarantee that kids will not be doing their best work in their rush to just get through it all.Getting to school each day, whether they feel like it or not, also prepares kids to meet future, responsibilities. Imagine, for example, what would happen if your son or daughter regularly skipped college classes or was a frequent "no show" at a future job. The same holds true for getting to school on time. Frequent tardiness would not be tolerated in the workplace; parents teach a valuable lesson when they teach the importance of arriving to school on time every day.  Things families can do to ensure kids are in school and learning: 1. Make academics a priority. Let your kids know that you expect them to go to school every day and do their best while there. At this stage in their lives, learning should be "job one." Granted, there are the occasional sick days, but young, healthy children rarely need to miss more than a few days each year. Talk about the consequences of missing school in terms that will hit home for them (e.g., having to stay after school to make up missed work, needing to attend remedial classes, missing out on after school sports and clubs or time with friends.)  

2. Help your child get organized. Create a space in your home for kids to store backpacks, coats, sneakers and other supplies. Develop a routine where children help pack their own lunches and do necessary laundry the night before. This will make mornings less hectic and help kids get out the door and onto the bus on time. Getting organized can also help create a calmer atmosphere at home, leading to better attitudes and openness to learning when kids arrive at school.

3. Set reasonable bedtimes. On average, students need about nine hours of sleep to be healthy and alert.  A midnight bedtime on a school night makes the six a.m. wake-up call tough to meet - and doesn't give them nearly enough sleep. Despite what nature is telling them, reinforce reasonable bedtimes for your kids and encourage them to get up and get ready on their own. (A loud alarm clock can be a useful tool in this effort!)

4. A work first/play later policy (e.g. homework before sports, activities, friends, the computer) with regard to homework can also help make sure they realize the importance of their school work.

5. Make medical and other appointments during non-school hours whenever possible. Schedule family vacations during school holidays or the summer recess so that students aren't missing important lessons and struggling to make up for lost ground.

 6. Keep track of your child's absences. Excessive absences might be a sign of other physical or emotional problems. These might be personal, such as a failed relationship with another student or fear of being bullied. Or it might be academic, such as a conflict with a teacher or fear of failing a test. If absences become common, talk with your child and enlist the help of his or her guidance counselor, teachers or pediatrician. Working as a team can help provide a clearer picture of what's really at the source of the attendance problem.