Chronic absenteeism is a growing concern in the United States. According to the U.S. Education Department, as many as six million students miss up to two weeks of school annually. These absences equate to about two days per month. In high schools across the country, about two million teenagers are missing school for as many as 15 days of the year. Studies show that these kids suffer academically as a result.
Long Term Consequences of Chronic Absences
There are a number of reasons kids may be absent from school in addition to the standard health issues. Students who are not engaged in the lessons or who are falling behind may find reasons to avoid going to school, not realizing that extra absences only make the problem worse.
Some chronically absent students choose to drop out once they reach high school, while others get poor grades and begin skipping school, according to a report in Time Magazine. The report cited by Time found that the more days kids missed the less likely they were to graduate from high school and to attend college.
According to AttendanceWorks.org, “Research shows that missing ten percent of the school, or about 18 days in most school districts, negatively affects a student’s academic performance.” And these statistics are the same even for students who have legitimate reasons for missing school.
Is Missing School Ever Okay?
Some children may have valid reasons for missing school. Medical issues, stress inside or outside of personal/family life, other commitments, extracurricular activities, or even sports may take a physical toll, leaving the child exhausted and unable to cope with the demands of scholastic hours.
Whether the reasons are valid or not, parents must still be diligent if their children begin to miss school or the chronic absences may ultimately hinder the child’s academic progress.
How to Address the Consequences of Chronic Absenteeism
Parents whose children are missing school may want to try these steps to address the issue:
Speak with the child’s teacher and educators
Parents should know what the child experiences at school. Does he or she not have enough time for breaks or physical activity between classes? Could the teacher make some allowance or leeway for the child to have less stressful assignments? Is there a serious problem at school that should be addressed, such as problems with the curriculum or excessive bullying. Can the teacher provide homework and ways for the child to catch up?
Speak with the child
Parents need to understand the child’s perspective on the reasons for skipping. What are the challenges they may need help facing? How does the child feel the parent could provide better support?
Try to create an open line of communication
Parents should explain to their child that they only have his or her best interests in mind. They should also work hard to avoid showing too much anger or frustration when students miss out on school hours. Showing an understanding about stressful days can make things easier all around.
If a child’s school situation is causing chronic absenteeism or a child must be absent from school for health or other reasons, parents may want to consider choosing another school. Online schools can be an excellent alternative for students who have trouble regularly attending a traditional brick-and-mortar school. Students still receive a public school education with certified teachers, but they have more freedom in their schedules that can keep them from falling behind if they are not always available during the standard school hours.
For more information about virtual schools, visit K12.com.