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How to avoid school absences for your young child

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School-aged child with smiling with backpack on

Here are eight tips for how to encourage your young child's commitment to attend school from Attendance Works, a national initiative that promotes the importance of being in class.

In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:

1. How do I help build your child's interest in going to school?

2. How do I get support from school staff?

CREATE A ROUTINE. Set a regular school-night bedtime and an easy-to-follow morning routine — and then stick to them. The night before, choose clothes with your child and lay them out to avoid delays and indecision. Pack lunch (if needed) and place it in the refrigerator, and put books and supplies in the backpack the night before.

BUILD ENTHUSIASM. For preschoolers and kindergartners, start talking about — even singing about — school during the summer to build anticipation and excitement. Play a game to count down the days to the first day.

MAKE A PLAN. Life is complicated. So make a backup plan ahead of time with relatives, friends or neighbors to ensure your children get to school even if you can’t be the one to take them there. Emergencies come up for all parents, so find — and be — one of those partners who can pitch in with a ride or take turns on the walk or waiting at the bus stop.

PUT SCHOOL FIRST. Schedule medical and dental appointments for after school. Try to avoid extended trips during the school year whenever possible.

ENGAGE THE SCHOOL/STAFF. Palm Beach County schools have numerous opportunities for parents: teacher conferences, PTAs and School Advisory Councils. Introduce yourself and meet the teachers before school starts. Ask for updates to make sure your child is showing progress. Share tips and troubles with other parents you meet at the school. See what works to help them get out the door in the morning.

ASK FOR HELP. If your child seems anxious about going to school, ask for advice from teachers or counselors about any concerns. There may be another problem hiding beneath the surface, like bullying or student safety. Get advice on how to keep your child comfortable at school and excited about learning. If you need help outside your school, reach out to these community resources:

BE FIRM. Don’t let your child stay home unless she is truly sick. Remember that complaints of a stomach ache or headache can be a sign of anxiety and not a reason to stay home. Again, reach out for help if you think your child is avoiding school.

GET INFORMED. Check the School District calendar online in mid-summer to make sure you know what day school begins. If your child is just starting school, make sure he or she has all the required shots. If you live outside the walking/driving area, look up the bus stop location and time for where/when your child will be picked up and dropped off.


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