Dr. Lynn Moody: School attendance matters

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 22, 2016

By Dr. Lynn Moody

Special to the Salisbury Post

Be sure your children know good attendance matters.

Sounds simple — but we need our children in school. Time with our students is precious and limited, and every minute of instructional time is valuable. The importance of school attendance is often underestimated, but for a child to be successful in school, they need to be there every day and arrive on time. We encourage you to set the example and talk with your child about the importance of good school attendance.

Arriving late or leaving early

While visiting schools, I frequently observe a parent or guardian checking their child in late or checking them out early. It concerns me that the child is missing such valuable instruction. When students are absent from school, they are missing so much that is important to their success.

If your child is late on a regular basis, they could easily miss 10 percent of the school year. This results in children feeling stressed and frustrated because they have missed critical instruction. They begin the day behind since their peers are already well into their class work for the day. School is much harder for students that arrive late or miss the entire school day.


We understand when your child is sick. But even when students miss school for excused absences, they can quickly fall behind with instruction. I ask that you please work with your child’s teacher or the school counselor to make up missed work. Too many sick days can create a substantial loss of learning time, so be sure you are talking with the school counselor or school nurse should your child have extended illnesses.

Kindergarten and first grade

Often kindergarten and first grade parents may think attendance is not important. However, research shows that missed days in kindergarten and first grade significantly reduce the chance of your child learning to read by third grade. Start early to build the habit of good attendance beginning in kindergarten to increase your child’s chance of being successful throughout their school and college years. Be sure your child knows that school is their first and most important job.

Consideration for all students

Even being five minutes late for school can impact the entire class. Tardiness can cause disruption and slow down instruction. Teachers often need to start over or change their lesson plans to accommodate students who are tardy or absent.

Working together

As we work together to provide the best school experience for all our children, here are a few tips for parents to help guide you in this process:

  • Plan family vacations on non-school days.
  • Schedule doctor appointments after school.
  • Talk with your child about the importance of a healthy work habit that begins with regular school attendance.
  • Remind your child that their future success in college can be determined by regular school attendance.
  • Establish regular morning routines.
  • Establish regular bedtime routines, including packing book bags and laying out clothes the night before. Remove cell phones, video games and computers from your child’s bedroom. Ensure your child is getting eight to ten hours of sleep.

We are here to help

Most important, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are facing tough challenges, ask the school for assistance. If you need help with transportation, health care or food, let us know. If your family is experiencing a crisis, we want to help you. We are ready and willing to be your partner.

Set goals 

Set 100 percent attendance with your child as the goal this year and watch their academic performance increase!

For more information, please refer to the following website that was used as a source for this column: http://www.attendanceworks.org


Dr. Lynn Moody is superintendent of the Rowan-Salisbury School System.