Every Absence Matters In A Child’s Education

You always want to set your child up for success—in school and in life—but knowing the best way to help isn’t always easy.

There are many reasons why students miss school when they don’t have to—struggling in the classroom, having trouble with bullies, or dealing with challenges at home. But when your child misses school for any reason, it becomes harder for them to succeed in school. Some of us have the everyday resources to ensure that if our kids do miss school, they do not get behind. However, that simply isn’t the case for many kids. This is really about the most vulnerable kids and parents who don't have the help they need.

Right now, 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.

To combat chronic absenteeism, the U.S. Department of Education, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the Ad Council have partnered to create the public service campaign Absences Add Up. Absences Add Up is part of the My Brother’s Keeper Every Student, Every Day initiative, a broad effort to combat chronic absenteeism led by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Justice.

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.

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.

As a parent, you can identify the reasons why your child is absent from school and help them to overcome these challenges. Parents can prepare their children for a lifetime of success by making regular school attendance a priority and understanding the reasons for their child’s absences. Start here to find resources that can help you set your child up for long-term success by making sure they are in school every day.

Renee Kemper is the founder of ThatsJustLife.Com, Contributing Author of The Mom Quilt, and more in the works. Blogger, Tech Guru, PR, Brand Management, and Business Development. Staff Writer & Social Media Specialist at Element Associates. Renee lives in Arkansas with her husband and two very busy and energetic teenagers. She loves meeting new people and taking on new challenges! She loves focusing her time on social good, her kids, and spur of the moment road trips.