3 Ways to Reduce Truancy through Strong Family Engagement
Chronic absenteeism and truancy continue to be a challenge for educators across the nation, real hurdles to much needed learning recovery and renewed connections. Strong family engagement practices can make a real difference in so many of these critical elements of student success. Truancy is no exception. While there may be numerous challenges at play when it comes to truancy, meaningful family partnerships can help significantly. Here are three ways to help you be on your way to bring more students into school, present & learning.
Strong Communication for Strong Relationships
Do all families know the attendance policy, and is it easy for families to excuse their student’s absence? Oftentimes, a truancy incident could have been avoided if the absence reason had been properly communicated to the school. Regular reminders and communications home across various channels help build the needed understanding of when students are expected at school and what steps families should take when they need to excuse an absence.
Good communication is difficult because it’s a job that’s never done. But throughout the year, strong and consistent communications with families will help you build trust and relationships. This should not be limited to crumpled letters in a backpack emails, phone calls, texts, or robocalls. Home visits can be a great way to build deeper relationships with families who may be more difficult to reach on a regular basis. (Check out these 11 tips for a great home visit.)
Maximizing time during family-teacher conferences is another venue to highlight the importance of attending every day and help families understand attendance policies. You might find these attendance-boosting tips for family-teacher conferences helpful.
It could also be worthwhile to take a look at your truancy letters. Are they clear and easy to understand, or rife with legalese? These critical messages can fall on deaf ears when they don’t empower families as partners and instead leave them angry, scared, and sad. Truancy Support leverages restorative and accessible truancy letters that remind families that they have the agency to get their student’s attendance back on track, an approach that has proven to be 40% more effective than the standard truancy letter.
Education Around Why Attendance Matters
In recent surveys of families, we’ve found that 52% of parents believe it’s ok for their student to miss as much school as they need to – as long as it’s excused. And while excusing an absence is important so that students and families do not become entangled in the legal system, the story doesn’t end there. Every day missed at school is a missed opportunity to learn. Ensuring that families fully understand the long term impact of chronic absenteeism or truancy, like lower grades, challenges to social growth and wellbeing, and even lower earning potential, can help turn your attendance rates around. Special events, clear communication, and dedicated resources can all help build a culture of attendance where families have bought into the importance of attending every day. You could even download and hang this mini-poster at the school front desk!
Provide Supports that Address Barriers to Attendance
Students who are chronically absent or truant are often facing numerous barriers to attendance, including transportation challenges, poverty, and physical and/or mental health issues. Instead of taking a punitive approach that can be alienating and ineffective, digging into the root cause and offering support can help get students back on track for success. Truancy Support provides access to key attendance data and details, including barriers to attendance that may have already been determined and notes on past family conversations.
Proactively connecting families to district or community resources can also be effective in preventing truancy challenges. EveryDay Intervention connects families to resources on a district’s behalf through the 24/7 Family Support Bot as well as a live, multilingual Family Support Team. When families and students have the support and resources they need, getting to school every day can be a little less challenging.
For more attendance solutions to keep your students on track and families engaged, visit our solutions page!