Attendance Tips

The following tips are important to helping students maintain regular attendance.

There may be more needed to help each child. Please note that these tips aren’t just about school attendance. They can be important for any child or teenager, as they promote a healthy lifestyle, which is key for proper emotion regulation.

Establish rules at home and follow them consistently!

Establish an appropriate bed time and be consistent.
 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children ages 6-12 get at least 9 hours of sleep and that teenagers get at least 8 hours of sleep.

Establish an appropriate wake time. Children and teenagers should be waking up and getting out of bed in time for school, regardless of school attendance. Inconsistent sleep patterns and excessive sleep can cause fatigue, just as too little sleep does.

Set appropriate time on electronics. Remember: Electronics are a privilege not a right.

  • Amount of time each day. A standard of 2 hours a day gives a child time to engage in other healthy activities and can help them to build a well-rounded lifestyle. There is an association between anxiety, depression, poor emotion regulation and moderate and high electronics use (greater than 2 hours in a day).
  • Set a time they are allowed to start using electronics.
  • Set a time to shut down electronics. An hour before bed is ideal.
  • Remember: Your child will survive without electronics (if they are upset that they cannot contact their friends…encourage social activities outside the home).
  • Your child will model your activity. Consider how much time you spend on electronics. Set up family rules around electronics, such as no phones at the dinner table.

Encourage regular physical activity. There are so many ways to get physically active: going for walks, playing with your dog, family hikes, exercise equipment, go to the gym, shoot hoops, yard work, etc. Physical activity helps with sleep and fatigue.

Set sleep and wake times. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children 6-12 get 9-12 hours of sleep a night and teenagers ages 13-18 get 8-10 hours of sleep a night. In addition to how much sleep students get, we need to think about when they sleep. Setting a bedtime that will allow the child to get up at the best time to be ready for school is important. Loss of sleep (due to not being in bed or being distracted in bed by electronics) is associated with increases in depression, anxiety, and irritability. When a child has a difficult night sleep, it is important to stay on the same wake up schedule. While it may be a difficult day when the child is tired, it will keep them on track to fall asleep at the appropriate time at night. 

Plan regular family time (e.g. dinner together) Set consequences for non-attendance:

  • Loss of phone privileges until they return to school.
  • Loss of electronics privileges until they return to school.
  • Keep consequences for non-attendance short. Once you return to school…privileges return as well.
  • Make sure you follow through. If you don’t follow through, your rules lose their meaning and it’s hard to blame them for not going. If you don’t follow through, why should they?

Consequences for attendance:

  • Provide verbal praise for steps toward getting to school.
  • Provide opportunities to get together with friends (e.g. sleepover, movies) when they go to school.
  • Establish appropriate rewards for children struggling with attendance. “You’ve been having a hard time. If we follow the plan we worked out with the school and make it 8 out of 10 days for the first 2 periods, you can have your friend over for a sleepover.”
  • Again, make sure you follow through. If you don’t, they won’t.

Establish a written plan (e.g. “If you make it 8 days out of 10, we’ll _____.”) versus daily in the moment negotiations (e.g. “If you go today, I’ll buy you _____.”)

  • In the moment negotiations sets up potential for daily “Let’s make a deal.” When you negotiate in the moment the child benefits from saying “No” each day. They only get rewarded if they start the day with “No!”
  • Set up consistent daily rules that are written out so everyone knows what to expect every day.

Do not excuse absences that you know are not legitimate. If they are only mildly sick, send them to school and call the nurse. If they are feeling down or sad, send them to school and call their clinician.

Communicate with your child’s teacher and school counselor/social worker. Keep them informed about what is happening at home, and what help you might need from them.

The home environment must not be more inviting than the school environment during school hours. In other words, between the hours of 8:00am – 3:00pm students should not have access to their electronics, be allowed to sleep for extended periods, participate in social activities, or participate in other forms of entertainment.

If a student misses school for an unexcused reason, they should be treated as if they stayed home “sick.” If they are unable to attend school, they are not eligible to participate in any activities for the remainder of that day.

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