Vollmer Principal's Message from Lisa Farina

Lisa Farina
  • December 2019

     

    Dear Vollmer Family,

     

    Every month, the Vollmer Attendance Team meets to discuss individual student's absence rates from school. There are many factors beyond our control that can lead students to be absent from school on occasion. However, one reason for absenteeism from school is vacations during the school year. We continue to see an increase in the number of families who are arranging vacations during the regular school year. 

    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. There are many things children can learn first-hand through visiting far-off 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.

    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 on the influence attendance has on success in school, “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!  

    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.

    Consider this: “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.

    The attendance of my Vollmer children continues to be on my mind, and I wanted to share my concerns with you. 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.

     

    Warmly,

     

    Lisa Farina

    Vollmer Principal

    359.5558

    lfarina@rhnet.org