My daughter spent years of her life in school feeling awful. She battled chronic Lyme Disease which was hard enough, but the real fight was battling the bullies she was faced with every day.For her, missing school meant missing the bullying. It was her way to avoid the war zone that school had become.
When you are bullied in school, getting up and going to school feels like going into battle. You never know what dangers lie around each corner. That was one of the reasons that my daughter missed a LOT of school. Ally never felt well. She had stomach pains for years- stomach pains that we had a hard time getting true diagnoses for. She’d get up and go to school, for me only to get a call an hour or two later from the nurse asking me to come and get her. She would miss one or two days a WEEK. Her teachers were very good about it, perhaps because I sent daily emails about her and how she was doing, and I made sure she was keeping up with her studies and her work.
However, I was worried. I knew that missing school would hinder her. In fact, studies show that every absence matters. Studies show that students how miss just two days of school each month, or 18 days in a year, are more likely to fall behind in reading, writing and math and less likely to graduate from high school. I am pretty sure that Ally’s frequent absence led to a big drop in her grades. Ally had previously been an A-B student, and now she was bringing home C’s and D’s. She was chronically absent, and it showed.
- A student is chronically absent even if they miss only two days of school each month (18 days per year), whether the absences are excused or unexcused.
- Chronic absenteeism can affect students as early as elementary school.
- Children who are chronically absent in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade are much less likely to read on grade level by third grade.
- Students who cannot read at grade level by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
Ally didn’t drop out of school- we decided to withdraw both her and her brother and home school them. That worked the best for them, but not everyone is able to or WANTS to home school. Absenteeism in school can be a big problem and I know that some parents feel helpless about it. I did!
AbsencesAddUp.org offers advice and tips about how to help keeping your kids in school. There are ideas on how to address the underlying cause of your child’s absences, like asking teachers and community leaders for advice and specific resources and reaching our to others parents for help and tips.
Ally graduated on time from our home school and is working for a year before attending college. She’s healthy and happy and we were able to find a way that worked for her to get her education. I do know that missing school added to the classes I had to teach or reinforce at home. I was impossible to find resources to help me when I needed help. AbsensesAddUp.org is a great place to start if you need help getting your child to go to school.