4 Ways to Galvanize Families As Partners in Reducing Chronic Absenteeism
It’s no secret that families can be a powerful partner in a student’s educational and overall success, and that success can falter when students aren’t consistently present at school. That’s why when it comes to reducing absenteeism, a family’s influence should not be underestimated. As you gear up for a successful new school year, consider incorporating these four strategies into your family engagement work as you improve student attendance and keep students growing and thriving.
1. Ensure Families Understand Student Attendance
We can’t meet an expectation that we don’t understand. Be sure that families understand your district’s attendance policy, and that every missed day matters, regardless of whether it was excused or unexcused.
It’s also important to keep families up to date on their student’s attendance, so that they can take swift action to get their student’s attendance back on track. In our research, we’ve found that families underestimate their student’s absenteeism by a factor of 2, so knowing the far less rosy reality can spark action. Having an early warning system in place that keeps families regularly informed of their student’s attendance can be a powerful way to get ahead of absenteeism before it becomes more severe. This can be done through an attendance intervention like EveryDay Intervention that sends personalized mail and text nudges, inviting conversations and connecting families to district resources.
2. Keep Lines of Communication Open
A strong partnership of any kind is built on effective communication. As you keep families informed throughout the year, it’s equally important that families know who to reach out to in case they have questions or challenges. This open dialogue allows for timely interventions and support. When families feel heard and know that their school is there to support them, they’ll be more likely to voice challenges they may be encountering and be receptive to resources & guidance to help them get their student’s attendance back on track.
3. Nurture Wellbeing Together
Regular attendance is incredibly challenging when student well-being wavers. From chronic health challenges like asthma to debilitating anxiety or school refusal, families know the issues their students are facing, but do they know that your school can help?
Your district likely has many resources already in place to support student wellness, including social workers and connections with local health clinics. How much are they being utilized? Making these connections may be easy for some educators, but more time consuming for others. Strategic partnerships where interventions are delivered on your behalf can help make these critical connections and give time back to busy educators. For example, EveryDay Intervention highlights district resources on mail nudges, and connects families to vital supports via the 24/7 Family Support Bot and live, multilingual Family Support Team.
Post-pandemic, district health policies may have encouraged families to be extra cautious and keep their students at home even with just a mild sniffle. While not easy, it’s important to take time to review your attendance & health policies and make sure it’s clear when families should keep their student home and who they can reach out to with any clarifying questions. This clear communication not only supports family-school partnerships in general, but can also help avoid unnecessary truancy incidents by ensuring that a health-related absence is in fact excused.
4. Partner to Set Achievable Attendance Goals
Having an achievable goal can be a motivating way to get attendance back on track. Educators, families, and students can work together to set attendance goals that inspire students to join their peers and teachers every day to learn and have fun. This collaborative approach empowers students and their families to take ownership of their education and attendance. Discuss the importance of regular attendance, the benefits it brings, and the consequences of chronic absenteeism. Celebrate milestones and achievements when attendance goals are met, reinforcing the value of their commitment.
Families play a significant role in reducing chronic absenteeism and keeping their child on track for success. By understanding attendance policies and attendance data, fostering open communication, prioritizing health and wellness, and collaboratively setting attendance goals, families and schools together can contribute to a supportive learning environment that encourages regular attendance and nurtures student success.