Thursday, 20 February 2020

Putting Students First: What happens when kindergarteners skip school

Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – Everyone knows that kids who miss a lot of school typically do worse than their peers academically.

But you may be surprised to learn that when students in the earliest grades miss just two days per month for any reason – excused or unexcused – it can translate into third-graders who can’t make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn; sixth-graders who cannot keep up in core classes, and high school students who do not graduate.

Missing 10 percent of school, which equates to about 18 days for the whole school year, is called “chronic absenteeism” and children living in poverty are more than twice as likely to be chronically absent. This is especially damaging in kindergarten through third grade when students are building fundamental language and math skills.

Even when students have good reasons to be absent, such as medical appointments or family emergencies, they still miss out on the teacher’s instruction and interaction with their classmates. Studies show it takes three days for students to catch up for every one day missed.

When you think about it, it makes sense. Let’s say a student misses a lesson. He or she comes back to school the next day and the class has moved on, having learned the new concept. The student not only missed yesterday’s concept, now he struggles to understand the current lesson because he doesn’t have the benefit of yesterday’s information.

When school changes from being fun to being confusing, from being easy to being hard, many students stop trying.

The best thing parents can do is to get their students to school every single day. This means scheduling appointments after school when possible. It means planning family trips to coincide with school holidays. It means only keeping students home for illness when they have one of these three symptoms: a fever higher than 100 degrees; diarrhea or vomiting during the previous 24 hours; or eyes that look pink and/or crusty.

At school, we do all we can to minimize the spread of germs. We teach children to wash their hands frequently and to cough into their elbows. We disinfect surfaces and empty trash cans full of used tissues. All the while, the students continue to learn.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the desire to keep kids home from school when they have the sniffles, to wrap them up in a warm blanket and feed them chicken soup. But allowing them to skip school regularly puts them behind.

School builds on material taught the day before, the week before, and the year before. When students get behind in the early years, it can be incredibly difficult for them to catch up.

Unfortunately, students who live in communities like ours with high levels of poverty are far more likely to be chronically absent than others because of factors out of their control such as unstable housing, unreliable transportation and a lack of access to health care.

If you are having trouble getting your student to school every day, talk to your student’s teacher. Let’s see if we can connect you with resources – other families who could help, district support, or assistance from other community resources.

Education is the path to success. Let’s keep kids in school every day to help them all be successful.

Dave McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

Mini Calendar

loader

LCNews

Responsible local journalism on the shores of Clear Lake.

 

Memberships:

 

Newsletter

Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.