COMMENTARY: Why Is Attendance Important?

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There are many reasons for a student to attend school. First, attendance is important because it is the law.  State law requires every child to attend school until his or her eighteenth birthday or until he or she has a high school diploma or a GED.

There are consequences if a student misses too many days which can include a $50 fine for each day missed, public service work, a parent court-ordered to attend school with the child, and even incarceration of the parent if the student doesn’t return to school.

While these consequences are very serious, there are others for students who don’t attend school regularly. Grades will not be as good, getting into trouble happens more often, graduation might not be achieved, and a good paying job might be hard to obtain.

Students who don’t attend school regularly are more likely to drop out. Dropouts often abuse drugs and have marital  and career problems as well. Research indicates a link between truancy and later problems such as violence, adult criminality, and incarceration.  

There are a few good reasons to miss school, but only a few. These include a death in the family, other family emergencies, or when a student is truly sick.  

What can parents do to help keep their child in school? Make sure they go to school every day well fed and rested. Provide a quiet place for them to do homework, and set aside time every day to help with their homework. Pay attention to your child’s health needs, and take care of problems early.

Encourage him or her to participate in extra-curricular activities such as sports and music. Read to your child daily, or if your child is older, you can read silently together and talk about what you read. Praise your child for what he or she does well and talk about any problems he might have. 

A parent can also talk to the teacher or school counselor. Make school and learning a priority in your home. Talk about college and have high expectations which you talk about frequently. Be sure that they know you believe in them, have high hopes for them, and are there to help them do their best.

Assuring that your child attends school daily and gets a good education is one of the best gifts you can give as a parent. You are helping make their future a bright one!

(Dr. Corry is Supervisor of Attendance, PBS Coach for Cannon County Schools)

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