By Patrick Dowd, executive director, Allies for Children
As the summer comes to an end and kids head back to school, it’s important for the adults in their lives and all throughout our community to take a meaningful effort in encouraging kids to attend school every single day.
When kids are not in school, they’re not learning; they’re not making friends; they’re not developing social skills; and they’re missing critical information and lessons. In fact, research shows that kids who miss just two days of school a month fall behind in their academics and relationships and are more likely to be suspended.
On the flip side, when kids are at school consistently, they are better able to keep up with their lessons, make positive relationships, better prepare themselves for their futures and thrive with their learning.
There are many ways that as a community, local leader, parent, agency – whoever you are – can encourage positive attendance for kids. Here are the top three:
- Simply ‘Be There.’ United Way’s Be There initiative is about one human being caring for another and showing up for kids so they continue to show up to school.
When adults, social workers and teachers in the community take the initiative to partner with agencies like United Way and Allies for Children to promote positive incentives and programs that encourage attendance, we will see the change in our kids. When we show our support, we will see kids’ excitement to show up to school each and every day to make themselves and the adults in their lives proud.
- Support strong after school programs. According to AttendanceWorks.org there is a direct correlation between after school programs and increased school-day attendance.
Some might wonder, “how?” Well, kids who attend after school programs are making friends, socializing and building confidence. They won’t want to skip school and miss out on the fun things their friends are participating in. After school programs also provide kids with the opportunity to connect with caring, stable adults who can help encourage the importance of attendance in school. Kids who attend after school programs develop persistence and learn to connect the link between effort and results – they’ll not only want to show up to school, but work hard while they’re there.
- Volunteer at a local school as a team. By partnering with a local school or connecting with United Way’s Adopt-a-School program, your company or organization can encourage attendance together.
Consider sending a group of employees to a school each week to read to kids. Sign your whole team up for United Way’s Be a Middle School Mentor. Organize a few special field trips or projects with a school. There are a lot of ways to make a difference. The kids will be excited to engage with successful adults, learn from your experiences and have a break from the classroom through an engaging activity.