Student attendance is directly correlated to student success. It is so important for students to be at school! Making our classroom a place where students feel safe, treasured, and want to be is key. Throughout my years of teaching, I have received many messages from a parent that said something like, “Sarah is sick with the stomach bug, but she begged me to let her still come to school. She cried when I told her she had to stay home.” I want our classroom to be a place where all of my students want to be because every person in our classroom is of great importance! I want our classroom to feel like their home away from home because our students spend more time with teachers during a school day than they do with their family. While every child and family situation is different, here are four tips that you can easily put into place to help decrease student absences.
Contact the family when their child is absent
When a child is absent, I always try to send an email, text, or even make a quick call to let the family know how much we miss and care about their child. I’ll say something like “We are so sad that Ryan isn’t here today. I hope he is doing ok! Please tell him we miss him and that the class says hi! We can’t wait for him to come back to school.” So many families respond so positively to this. Who doesn’t like knowing that they are missed? You can also send a handwritten note with a sibling if the child has a brother or sister at school. Words are powerful and it’s the little things we do, like a quick text, that often can feel like big things to the person receiving it.
Make a big deal when everyone is there
I love when my whole class is present and I let them know it! During attendance, I’ll say something like “Yay! Everyone is here today!” or during our morning meeting, I’ll say something like “I’m so excited that all of our friends are here today! We are going to have the best day ever learning together!” The kids mirror this excitement and cheer right along with me with big smiles on their faces. The classroom community is so important!
Acknowledge when a friend is absent
When a friend is absent I’ll say to my kids “I’m so bummed that Alex is not here today! Hopefully he’ll be here tomorrow!” What I love is that by modeling this, kids begin doing this on their own without my prompting. I’ll hear them talking to their tablemates about how they miss a friend that is absent and how sad it is that their friend is missing out on the fun learning we are doing that day. The best part is the excitement they have when the friend returns! Creating a culture of community in the classroom is contagious!
Celebrate when a student returns to school
When a child returns from being absent, even if it’s just a day, or even if the student is late for school, it’s like the prodigal son is coming home! We throw a party! Ok, so we don’t throw an actual party, but it feels like one as we cheer and celebrate by welcoming the student back with encouraging words and lots of hugs and high fives all around. I modeled this for my students and then they started to do it without my prompting. There is nothing like the smile on a student’s face when they walk into the classroom and hear their class say, “Yay! Katie is here!! We’ve missed you!”
— Pearson PreK12 (@PearsonPreK12) September 30, 2019
Becca Foxwell is an energetic first grade teacher whose heart comes alive in the classroom! She is a TPT Teacher-Author, speaker and presenter, and 2016 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Foxwell is passionate about instilling a love of learning within the hearts of her students and believes that learning should be fun and engaging as we prepare our students for 21st century success! You can learn more about Mrs. Foxwell at: https://www.foxwellforest.com/