At Tulsa Public Schools, we look forward to seeing our students in class every day. The reason is partly selfish - we love hearing students laugh and ask questions. We love seeing smiling faces work hard and apply what they have learned - but there is more behind why we love to see our students in the classroom.
Studies show a student's attendance plays a big factor in their overall success. Did you know that attendance is a greater predictor of high school and college success than ACT and pre-ACT scores? It can also play a factor in your future career. Studies show that students who attend school regularly are more likely to graduate and find good jobs - in fact, a high school graduate makes on average $1 million more than a dropout over a lifetime.
Just like anything else, developing good attendance habits takes practice, and you have to start early. Take pre-kindergarten for example. The experiences in pre-K help students learn patterns and these patterns help students learn how to read, how to behave in a classroom, understand schedules and more. At the same time, pre-k has one of the highest rates of chronic absenteeism rates, and that is a pattern that can be difficult to break.
"That pattern of 'school matters or school doesn't matter,' that perception is set up in your primary years. So whatever pattern is established then, most likely sticks," said Tulsa Public Schools enrollment and student information partner, Becky Baker.
Students who are chronically absent in pre-kindergarten are eight-times more likely to be absent in third through twelfth grade and are less likely to graduate, which is why it is so important to establish good attendance habits early. One of the best things you can do as a parent is to get your child excited for school.
"The most important thing is positive language. When you're talking about school, talk about how exciting it is, how you're looking forward to it. Having a positive attitude is huge. Studies show the most important thing a parent can do is to show enthusiasm and love for learning," Baker said.
Once a positive outlook on going to school has been established, the next step is creating a routine that sets your child up for success. Setting a regular bedtime and getting a proper amount of sleep, getting clothes ready the night before, and creating a backup plan for getting to school are all steps you can take to instill good attendance habits early.
And don't forget to take advantage of your school's resources.
"Reach out to your school and see what supports they have. Many schools are looking at using 'walking buses' to get kids to school. Some schools have carpooling resources. The school attendance clerk is a great resource you can use to help get your child to school," Baker said.
Being absent from class also puts students behind. We live in a world where technology rules and many times you don't have to be there to feel involved, but being present in a classroom and interacting with other students creates more learning opportunities.
"You can't do your discussions if you're not in class. You can't hear questions other students ask," Baker said. "You learn so much from other people's questions, experiences, and approaches."
Attendance is something we take seriously on a district and school-wide level. Many of our schools have created attendance teams that are developing ways to help our students and families get to school every day and be excited about attending class. We encourage you to reach out to your school to see what resources are available or to see how you can help. You can also find more tips on establishing good attendance habits on our website.