The Importance of School Attendance

Many families are not aware of how quickly absences add up, which can lead to academic failure. All absences affect how well students learn.

By Anne E. Mead, Ed. D.

 Students who have poor attendance can be retained and, later in life, become dropouts. Children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are less likely to read well by the end of third grade. Positive attendance now in schools develops a lifelong practice of high achievement. 

Chronic absenteeism is missing 18 or more days per year. Children should only be absent when they are ill. Parents often feel that missing a day here or there or two per month doesn’t affect their children’s learning. Children that are missing two days a month are missing 10 percent of the school year. There is a feeling that missing days in kindergarten isn’t important. For many children, kindergarten is their first experience in formal learning, and every day must count. Other factors that impact attendance are extended vacations, being late to school, and doctor and dental appointments. Aim to limit these activities as much as possible. 

Even as children grow older and more independent, families play a key role in making sure students attend school on a regular basis and in understanding the link between positive attendance in school and success later in life. Families play a major role in ensuring their children get to school on time. Children who are often tardy for school miss the opening activities of the day, when the teacher works on foundational skills that are important to their academics. 

Here are a few items to do daily to encourage regular attendance. Talk to your child about the importance of showing up to school every day. As a parent, you might share that you go to work, and your boss expects you to be there every day on time, and that school is no different. Help your children maintain daily routines, such as finishing homework when they get home from school and getting a good night’s sleep. Preparing the night before will avoid last-minute lateness in the morning. Let your children choose the clothes they will wear, and pack lunches and snacks the night before. 

Try not to schedule dental and medical appointments during the school day. Rather, schedule them at the end of the day or on Saturday. Keeping your child healthy through good nutrition, sleep, and regular physical check-ups helps your child to be in school daily. If your children must stay home because they are sick, make sure they have asked teachers for materials to make up for the missed learning time. 

Families who are concerned about their children’s absences or need help to ensure their children are in school each day should reach out to the teacher or the school principal for help. Excellent attendance in elementary school means children will read well by third grade; middle schoolers will pass important milestones, high schoolers will stay on track for graduation, college students will earn high-paying degrees, and workers will succeed in their jobs. 


Anne E. Mead, Ed. D. is the Director of Family, School & Community Partnerships for Danbury Public Schools. She can be reached at 203-830-6508 or by email at