How to Sustain a Culture of Attendance? Here are 6 ways.
As districts nationwide return to school and celebrate National Attendance Awareness Month, it’s prime time to set some strong practices into place that nurture a culture of attendance that will encourage consistent engagement all year long. Read on for six ways to help reinforce the importance of showing up every day for better grades, more fun with peers, and long term success.
1. Clear Communication & Expectations
The 3 C’s of Attendance Policy (Clear, Concise, and Communicated) set the foundation for a healthy culture of attendance, so that the entire school community understands attendance expectations and why they are important. Clearly communicate attendance policies, procedures for submitting an absence, and the negative consequences of absenteeism, both excused and unexcused. Don’t be afraid to use multiple communication channels, such as newsletters, school websites, and meetings, to keep everyone informed.
2. Positive Reinforcement & Recognition
While there are several different schools of thought around celebrating good attendance, rewarding the hard work that students and their families have made to attend school consistently and recognizing improvements can be a profound motivator. This could involve certificates, special parties, or even small incentives like extra recess time or preferred seating. Try to avoid perfect attendance awards, which can be demotivating and counterproductive. Recognizing and celebrating good attendance can motivate students to prioritize coming to school regularly— check out this resource from Attendance Works for more on attendance incentives.
3. Engaging and Relevant Curriculum
Curriculum and educational content that is meaningful for students and prepares them for our ever-changing world can be a huge incentive for showing up to learn every day. Project-based learning and culturally relevant books are just two ways to really get students fired up about the opportunities school will bring. When students understand the value of what they're learning, they are more likely to attend school consistently. Collaborate with teachers to create dynamic lessons that capture students' interests. This Build Connections for Classrooms activity from Character Labs helps educators show students the connection between their own interests and what’s on the menu at school.
4. Supportive and Inclusive Environment
As youth and adults nationwide continue to face mental health challenges, a safe, welcoming, and inclusive school environment where students feel a sense of belonging is more important than ever. When students feel connected to their school community in some kind of way, they are more likely to attend regularly. Pam Allyn, founder & CEO of Dewey, presented numerous ways to bring joy and inclusivity into every day of school in this great keynote at the Power of Present Summit,
5. Early Intervention and Support
Identifying students who are struggling with attendance early on and acting swiftly can save educators a lot of time, work, and lost instructional time in the long term. EveryDay Pro automatically surfaces attendance patterns, including early absences, vacation extenders, and day of the week absences. By using an MTSS platform like EveryDay Pro, you can implement and coordinate interventions for students who are frequently absent and help them get back on track. This could involve a counselor or attendance team that works with students and their families to address the root causes that might be contributing to absenteeism.
6. Engaging Families as Partners
When families understand why attendance matters and are invested in your attendance improvement initiatives, big changes happen. Communicate the importance of attendance and collaborate with families to address any barriers to attendance they might be facing. Workshops, conferences, and open lines of communication can facilitate a partnership in promoting attendance. Many families believe that absences don’t matter if they are excused. Take time to highlight the negative impacts on academic, social, and career success that come with poor attendance. You can even download and hang this mini-poster in your front office to help get the message out!
Building a culture of attendance takes time, consistency, and a collective effort from school staff, students, families, and the community. By implementing these strategies and continuously assessing their effectiveness, you can create a positive environment that encourages regular attendance and sets the foundation for student success.