Students who attend school on a consistent basis have better grades, become academically proficient and are on a trajectory to high school graduation. One would think that consistent attendance is the norm for most students; however, this is not the case. Though Danbury Public Schools has one of the lowest chronic absenteeism rates in the state of Connecticut, we can still do better. Chronic absenteeism is defined as students who miss two days a month from school or 10 percent of the school year. These students are at risk of failure and have higher dropout rates. For more information on the numbers and facts about the effects of chronic absenteeism, go to http://www.attendanceworks.org/chronic-absence/the-problem/.
What do families need to know and how can they help their children have consistent attendance? First, regular bedtimes, good nutrition and having a routine are all necessary to ensure good health, lack of illnesses and a positive attitude about school. Planning a routine that includes getting ready for the next day is vital, including packing lunches and backpacks, choosing or laying out clothes and making sure that families have read flyers and other important information that has come home from school. Leave time each evening to review your child’s homework, talk about their day and sign and return any forms that need to go back to school. Create the expectation that your child will go to school each day as a clear message and emphasize how important it is to their success for reading, transition to other grades and to be on track for graduation.
We all understand when a child is ill or has a fever and must stay home. We are not suggesting to send a sick child to school; however, keep in mind that that complaints of a stomachache or headache can be a sign of anxiety and really not a reason to stay home. If your child seems anxious, or has these complaints, talk to the teacher or principal on how to make the child feel comfortable and confident in their new adventure. Talking with your children about school and sharing your own positive experiences will help them to feel more comfortable.
The Danbury Public Schools attendance policy can be found in the Back to School guide available at http://www.danbury.k12.ct.us/. Families now have access to PowerSchool, the district’s student management system and can view their child’s attendance record. If your child is going to be absent, it is crucial to call your child’s school and report the absence and the reason. This is recorded in your child’s attendance folder. If your child has a large number of absences, you will be contacted by the school to see why and what resources you may need to get your child to school every day.
Your child’s teacher wants to see all of their students every day. Please be part of the movement to have all children in school every day. As a community, we can help fight chronic absenteeism and increase our children’s academic success, resulting in graduates that are successful in college and their professional choices.
Anne E. Mead, Ed. D., is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.