With holidays around the corner, it’s time to prevent vacation extensions!
With spooky season upon us and the bustle and excitement of the holidays just around the corner, the common absence pattern of vacation extensions may emerge at your school. But with smart planning, there are strategies you can put in place now to help good attendance be one more thing to celebrate during the holidays.
To maximize attendance as we approach school vacations, your plan can incorporate any combination of the following strategies:
Send a reminder to families about the importance of planning family vacations around the school calendar to ensure students do not miss school.
- Include a copy of the calendar
- Use positive/encouraging language
- Include information about exciting and important learning activities that will happen before and after school vacations
Send out nudge letters/text messages immediately before or after vacations.
- Example: “Hello from ______! We are returning to school on Tuesday, January 3rd, and we can’t wait to see your student back on campus. Please help them get a good night's sleep so they can start the new semester off right!”
- You can send these messages school-wide, or send more targeted messages to students who have historically missed school before or after holidays. You can use an attendance analytics dashboard like EveryDay Pro or your school’s SIS to identify students who have had higher absence rates before or after holidays.
Keep up the academic rigor on the days before and after school vacations.
- Teachers and administrators can help by communicating with families about the important learning activities taking place in the days leading up to school vacations.
- Include opportunities to showcase student learning alongside winter celebrations and invite families to participate in these activities.
- Example: Elevate the typical winter party with a winter writing publishing showcase & party! This will add a sense of accomplishment to the already joyful seasonal celebration.
Add competitions and group-wide incentives for strong attendance in the days before and after a school vacation.
- Avoid perfect attendance awards, as these can be counterproductive. Instead, consider providing a low-cost incentive for classes or other groups that maintain a certain level of attendance in the days leading up to or immediately following a vacation.
- As staff members speak with students about the importance of maintaining strong attendance throughout the holiday season, the excitement of a school-wide competition or incentive adds a powerful element of excitement.
- Check out this resource from Attendance Works for more ideas about how to create effective attendance incentives.
As you design your plan for preventing vacation extension, remember: it’s okay to start with just one or two strategies that are feasible and will work for your school community. And of course, this work is a team effort! Collaborate with other members of your school team to create the plan and support its implementation across the school. We suggest starting planning early (i.e. in the next week or two) so that you have the time to make this a school-wide effort!
For more tools on identifying and getting ahead of attendance patterns, check out this post on dip days and check out EveryDay Pro, our new tool reporting on robust attendance metrics to support your MTSS.