Attendance Challenges? Get to the root cause first and determine barriers to attendance. Here’s how.
To truly support students with excessive absences, it's important to first determine the primary reasons why they are missing school. Once those reasons are identified, school teams should then look at their available resources and align them to support the student and their family. Having attendance interventions that are specific to the needs of the student is imperative; one size does not fit all. A student that is missing school due to bullying or safety concerns requires a much different intervention than a student who isn’t attending because of transportation issues.
Getting to the root cause of a student’s situation requires a supportive and thoughtful conversation with the student and/or family. Since younger students may not be able to provide you with enough details to truly understand their situation, in most cases it’s best to speak with the families of elementary and middle school-aged students.
Before contacting the student or family, be sure to review their attendance records and any other available information relevant to their circumstances. This will help provide the context needed to ask the right questions. Also, make sure that your contact with the family comes from a place of support versus condemnation. Many students and families have experienced hardships over the past few years and continue to have challenges. Be mindful of this and be sure to convey that the school team is understanding of their situation and wants to do all they can to support them. The family should feel that the school is partnering with them to address the barriers leading to poor attendance, not wagging a finger.
The following questions can help start conversations with parents and students and spark dialogue that will start uncovering the root causes of poor attendance.
Attendance Probes for Students
· Do your parents know that you’re missing school?
· What are the challenges or obstacles keeping you from coming to school every day?
· What would help you be able to attend school more regularly?
· Is there something going on at home or school that makes you feel unsafe?
Attendance Probes for Families
· What challenges are interfering with your child attending school every day?
· What would help your child be able to attend school more regularly?
· Are there any family issues impacting your child’s attendance?
· Does your child have any medical, physical, social, or emotional health issues that could be impacting attendance? If so, can you tell me more about these issues.
· Has your child ever spoken about a fear or dislike of school?
After your conversations, reflect on what you’ve uncovered and how you and your team can help students overcome barriers to attendance.
If you’re looking for new tools, EveryDay Pro has a multitude of resources to help you implement, coordinate and track the progress of numerous attendance interventions across your team. Are you finding that many of the families you spoke with need help accessing more of the district’s resources? EveryDay Intervention could be a great help in supporting a larger number of families by connecting them to resources across the district through the Family Support Team and Family Support Bot.
Visit our website for free resources on partnering with families for student success and much more!