We all remember the one or two classmates who were chronically absent from school. Days, sometimes weeks would pass by and you barely even noticed the empty desk at the corner of the room. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there is a concerning number of these classroom phantoms: Over 6 million students nationwide missed 15+ days of school in 2014.
Prolonged absences, even when excused or due to unforeseen causes, can prove to be detrimental to a student’s progress and momentum during the fast-paced school year. It’s not just an epidemic of nationwide high school senioritis; K-6 students are at high risk as well.
With the right data and community initiatives, we can figure out how to get more students back into the classroom. There may be some individual strategies to implement in the meantime:
Reinforce a culture of success
For young people, the amplitudes of failure are much larger than they are to adults; failing their last math test or even an entire course can seem like an insurmountable obstacle to even getting out of bed for school.
We should keep a closer eye on students’ progress and be more involved. Online tutoring is a great way to provide non-intrusive help to students who need immediate help for specific issues. Yup provides real-time tutoring in math, physics and chemistry via a smartphone app, so students can get their work done and feel confident about attending classes the next day.
Don’t use social isolation as punishment
Truth be told, the social scene at school can make it torturous for a lot of kids. All the weirdness of growing up and feeling uncomfortable in your own skin may actually contribute to the fact that many students aren’t showing up in homeroom.
However, there’s a positive flip side to the judgmental nature of pre-teens — a student’s group of friends. We shouldn’t ground kids after school or on weekends if their academic performance isn’t up to par, or if they’ve been missing school. Their friends, who represent a huge incentive to show up for classes, may be the strongest way to improve a student’s attendance.
Working with teachers
Parents can and should maintain correspondence with teachers during prolonged absences, especially with younger students. This ensures that the student receives the necessary materials while physically away from the classroom so they can be as prepared as possible upon returning.
Parents, we want to hear from you: do you think too many students nationwide are missing school on a daily basis? What are the best ways to keep your kid from missing class? Is it online tutoring or discipline? Let us know!