Almost 14% of the nation’s entire student population — roughly 6.8 million individuals across the country — are affected by chronic absenteeism. There are usually 180 days of the calendar year that are dedicated to school. If a student misses 10 or more days of school, they’re considered to be chronically absent. This is a severely overlooked problem that can have damaging effects on the emotional and social development of school-aged children.
There are plenty of reasons some children are chronically absent, including compromised health, anxiety, and insufficient transportation options. Educators can only do so much when it comes to helping students who are struggling with this problem. They also need the assistance of parents to be able to fully support the child with their schooling. If your child is having trouble at school when it comes to their attendance, here’s how you can help them out.
Ensure that your child gets a good night’s rest
A persistent lack of sleep has been linked to poor academic performance and more incidences of tardiness and chronic absenteeism. Children aged 7 to 12 years old should get at least 10 to 11 hours of sleep, while teenagers should be getting between 8 and 9 hours of sleep every night. Help children get the rest they need by encouraging them to stick to a bedtime routine and keep to regular sleep and wake times. You can also teach them how to relax before bedtime to help them easily fall asleep.
Consider the reasons they’re avoiding school
The only way to properly address the problem of absenteeism is to figure out what’s causing it in the first place. Sometimes, the problem may already be quite obvious, such as chronic illness. If the chronic illness isn’t something serious, such as constant flu, then it’s often something either in the school itself or at home that may be causing it.
Teach your child proper hygiene so that they can safely protect themselves against illness-causing germs and bacteria, and make sure you’re providing them with a clean, healthy living space that’s conducive to their well-being. This includes providing a healthy lunch or hiring general cleaning services to keep your living space spotless. Don’t forget to take more specialized approaches for certain types of chronic illnesses. For example, if your child has asthma, then you may want to hire professional air duct cleaning services to keep your air clear of asthma and allergy triggers.
Other reasons may be more subtle, and you may have to talk to your child about the difficulties they’re having in school. Most of the time, they may be struggling mentally over issues such as a fear of failure, bullying, low self-esteem, or abuse from a superior or classmate. Make them comfortable enough so that they can talk openly with you about these problems, and never invalidate any of their feelings. Seek professional guidance if the problem turns out to be more serious than anticipated.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help
Remember that you and your child aren’t alone in this, and you can always ask for help from other people. The best resource you have would of course be the educators and school administrators who can help support your student while they’re in class, but they can only do so if you communicate your child’s needs to them early on. When it comes to more significant behavioral and emotional issues, it’s recommended that you seek help from medical professionals who may be able to diagnose and treat any underlying mental health problems.
With regard to issues with transportation, there’s no harm in enlisting the help of family members, neighbors, friends, or parents of other students to help take your child to school and prevent them from constantly being tardy or absent in case you can’t personally be there to oversee this yourself.
Simplify your mornings
Make it easy for your child to get out of bed and into the school bus as quickly as possible. The more time they have to delay going to school, the more likely they are to arrive late or skip school entirely. Pack all lunches and school bags the entire before, lay out clothes, and make sure you have a back-up plan in place to ensure that your child gets to school even if they miss the bus or if you might not be able to bring them to school yourself. The simpler it is to get ready for school, the less likely children will be late or absent for class.
Celebrate small accomplishments
Don’t forget to reward good behavior and consistent attendance with small rewards. It can be as simple as packing an extra snack in their lunchbox or taking them to a movie, just make sure it’s something they value and enjoy.
Chronic absenteeism is a growing problem among school-aged children. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to address it with proper intervention from both parents and educators.