The following is a guest ViewPoint from Jeanne Muckerman, Chairwoman for the United Way GRACES Leadership Council
September has been named “Attendance Matters” Month, because we need to start positive habits in both students and parents early in the school year.
Chronic absence is a problem we can fix if we start early enough. Chronic absence means missing 10 percent of school days for any reason, excused and unexcused, over an academic year. This is not the same as truancy, this term simply refers to the number of days the student is not in class, in a learning environment. According to a 2008 study, nearly one in 10 kindergarten students misses a month of school every year.
For children to succeed in school, they need to be present. This is not a problem that only plagues younger students, though. Missing class means missed opportunity at any grade level.
Again, Chronic absence is a problem we can fix if we start early enough. Schools and communities are seeing attendance rates improve within months the chronic absence data is monitored and discussed. If we reach out to children and families to encourage good attendance, we can help them overcome barriers to a successful academic experience. We can begin building lifelong values that start with making attendance in school a priority. The result is a more educated and committed workforce as these children grow up. The whole community benefits.
United Way’s GRACES Women’s Council is promoting early grade level attendance by sending home information with our area Kindergartners and 1st graders, and offering them a reward for perfect attendance. We hope others will join us in promoting this important message. Parents, we are asking that you make it a point to get your kids to school every day; their future success depends on it.
P.O. Box 100
Cape Girardeau, MO 63702