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It seems like missing one day of school would not be that big of a deal. Some parents feel free to keep their children out of school fairly often (even when they are not sick). It is appropriate to keep your child home if they are running a fever or have the stomach flu. And, of course, family e...

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Student Absences: They Hurt Learning More Than You Might Think

Posted by: Livia McCoy on Jun 05, 2012 in Livia McCoy, Kids Learning, Homework


Livia McCoy
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It seems like missing one day of school would not be that big of a deal. Some parents feel free to keep their children out of school fairly often (even when they are not sick). It is appropriate to keep your child home if they are running a fever or have the stomach flu. And, of course, family emergencies affect attendance. But, if there isn’t really an emergency or if they are not really sick, they should be in school. And, here is why.

What you learn in school each day builds upon earlier learning. This is true in all subjects, and on some days it is truer than others. For example, on Monday, students discuss chapter 7 in their literature class. In chapter 7, a new character is introduced in the story. Class discussion is about this new character and how she might impact other characters in the story. Students predict what is going to happen next in the story.  On Tuesday and Wednesday the next few chapters are taught. Students revisit their predictions and analyze whether they were correct. They free write about whether their story line would have been as exciting as the story line in the book. If your child is absent on Monday, she is not ready to participate on Tuesday and Wednesday. So it is more like 3 missed days of instruction, not just one.

You might think this isn’t really a problem because your child’s teacher has an appointment scheduled with your child to go over what your daughter missed when she was out. But, this is not as good as hearing the full class discussion and all the ideas that were shared. It is not possible to recreate a discussion, the questions the other students asked, and everything else that happened in class. Additionally, the sequence of instruction is out of order.

I have a few students who are frequently absent on Mondays, especially during first period. Their absences amount to approximately 15 percent of the total number of classes. Given this discussion, you can see how missing 15 percent of the classes can drop a child’s grade from an “A” to a “D” or even lower. If a child struggles in school everything I’ve said here is even more important.

When my children were in school, I never allowed them to stay home unless I was sure they were really sick. If they were sick and did stay home, they stayed in bed all day with no television or electronic devices. (I did allow them to read a book—I’m not a total ogre!) It was a good rule of thumb then, and I would do the same thing again if I had the opportunity. It is hard to do this as a parent. But, it is really important for a child’s education. If school is in session, children need to be there.

 

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