Dear Winslow Family,
The winter holiday season is upon us, and with it, increased visits with family and friends, near and far! I mention this because I know family vacations become more common at this time of year. I certainly empathize with parents who can only take vacations at particular times of year and with those who have far-off families. However, the Winslow Attendance Team is observing an increased number of unlawful detentions of students due to vacations taken during the regular school schedule.
There are many things children can learn first-hand through visiting other places, and connections that can only be made in person with loved ones. Although I am not asking parents to stop or cancel these trips, I am asking you to carefully consider what is lost when a child is out of school for these extended periods.
Parents often ask classroom teachers to prepare assignments for children who will be on vacation. We are happy to make suggestions that involve math and reading/writing activities for your child while you are on vacation. This does not fully replace the learning that is lost when a child is not in class, because it is impossible to provide the active learning that our students engage in during class in the form of paperwork.
There are many factors beyond our control that can lead students to be absent from school on occasion. No matter the reason the child is absent, the learning students do in class today is very different from the prepackaged curriculum many of us experienced in school as children. Discussions and hands-on learning experiences cannot be distilled into a worksheet. Nothing takes the place of a child being in school and working with their classmates and classroom teacher every day.
Attendanceworks.org has some great information about the importance of regular school attendance, right from the start of kindergarten (and earlier)! According to a study titled, “Absences Add Up: How School Attendance Influences School Success,” “…students who miss more school than their peers consistently score lower on standardized tests, a result that holds true at every age, in every demographic group, and in every state and city tested.” Every bit of time we can keep kids in their classrooms learning helps support the success of our children!
“Getting your child to school on-time, every day, unless they are sick, is something that you can do to ensure that your child has a chance to succeed in school,” according to http://www.attendanceworks.org/about/what-can-i-do/parents/. Some strategies that can support this include establishing routines, talking with your child about the importance of good attendance, reaching out to school for help if needed, and working with your child’s teacher to catch up on missed instruction following absences.A report titled “Present, Engaged, and Accounted For,” from the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University, finds that children with poor attendance had lower levels of academic achievement. What might startle you, as it did me, is that chronic absenteeism in the primary grades can have a lingering effect on reading and math scores throughout the elementary years, with those students posting the lowest scores in fifth grade. Chronic absenteeism in secondary education is linked to a higher probability of dropping out of school.
If there is anything we can do to encourage your youngster to attend school each day, I hope you will contact your child’s teacher, our school social worker, or me so we may be of assistance. I know you will join me in supporting the daily presence of our children in school as a critical component of their learning.