The School Keeps Complaining About My Child’s Attendance
Getting to School On Time
The School Keeps Complaining About My Child’s Attendance
Why do schools care if my child is only ten minutes late to school? I have to get her ready after work or before work and drop her off on my way to work. The school is unreasonable and will not adjust for my schedule. They have sent me official letters and want to put me in front of a truancy judge (or School Attendance Review Board). What should I do?
Schools take attendance and tardiness seriously for a couple really good reasons. I believe that you will reconsider your child’s prompt arrival to be important after you think about how being absent or tardy affects your child both socially and academically.
As you know from your own experiences as a parent, routine is very important to children. I am sure you have some of these (if not all) rules in your home. Children need to know that they are expected to eat their vegetables or they get no dessert. You do your homework and your chores before you watch television. You take a bath before bed to help be clean and relax to sleep. You brush your teeth every morning and at night before bed. You read a story to them before they fall asleep
Why do you have rules like this at home? Simply because you are a great parent and you want to raise your children to be healthy happy adults.
Now think about school. Every classroom worth mentioning has a morning routine. This routine allows students to arrive at school and settle in. The routines help your child feel safe. These same routines help them to organize and prepare for their day at school. It is essential that your child knows classroom expectations. How, when and where to turn in homework (which is usually first thing in the morning) helps students work to be collected and graded on time.
Things as simple as taking a lunch count is done first thing in the morning. When your child comes in late, they miss out on all announcements from the school and the teacher.
In early grades, and sometimes even in junior and senior high schools, teachers begin by greeting students at the door. A good teacher takes time every morning to look the students in the eye. Teachers assess students during the brief welcoming and allow students the opportunity to talk one-on-one to them. I remember one morning when Suzie came in and whispered in my ear. “My mom had a baby girl on Saturday. We thought it was a tumor.” I was able to ask if we could celebrate her birth and Suzie lit up like a morning star beaming, “Oh Good!”
Does he look rested? Does he tell me he finished his homework, or didn’t? Is he clean? Students LOVE being personally welcomed every morning. When a student is late, they miss out on this personal greeting and warmth. Instead of a warm acceptance, the late student walks in to a room of students who are already busy at work. They might be writing or having a class lesson or discussion. Maybe they do some sharing every morning and your child misses out on that every single day.
Whatever is happening must be interrupted for the teacher to tell the student what they missed and what the assignment is. I always started the morning with a quick write lesson. A topic to write about was part of it. The other part was a focus for the writing. We might be working on topic sentences, capitalization, writing directions or telling a story about a pet. I spent time teaching the lesson and motivating the writing. The late student misses all that. They come in and are told by me or another student, “Write about a dog.” They have missed all the important parts of the lesson. If they are late often they may never be taught about topic sentences. They miss a lot of instruction. How sad is that.
If you were getting your children to the car or bus stop to go to school and the neighbor showed up with muffins right as you were leaving, would that bother you? Would that disrupt your flow? Even something as good as a muffin can toss your routine in the trash making everybody in the family late for school and work. Think of how disruptive it can be to a classroom when a student is late.
The late student walks in without knowing the directions for the task. They don’t know what to do with their homework because the teacher has already picked it all up. The student often forgets to turn in their homework and it piles up on the bottom of their backpack. The teacher has to stop everything to reteach the lesson or ignore the late student and simply let them be ignorant about the subject.
Parents have pointed their fingers in my face and said things like, “I pay your salary, you work for me.” in regard to the funding that does pay my salary. The funny thing is that these parents are often receiving assistance and it is the teacher who is paying their welfare. I have never collected food stamps or welfare even when I worked for so little wages that I qualified for them. I have never missed paying my taxes which are way too high (aren’t they all). Please do not put your finger in my face and talk about my wages. You seem very ignorant if you do that.
Be a smart thoughtful parent. Be confident that your child will have the best start of a day if they are not late – or way too early. The schools usually have adults on campus doing yard duty no earlier than 7:15 am (early start schools) and sometimes it is not until 8:00 or later. If you drop your child off before this time you are putting the school and your child in a dangerous situation.
Early birds are sometimes welcome and sit in the library or cafeteria to wait for the teacher on duty. This means that the cooks are watching them – now are the cooks really watching your child’s early bird behavior? NO, they are cooking. Is the librarian there or is this leaving kids unsupervised in a different setting?
When your child is unsupervised in any are of the school the weight of responsibility lies on the back of the principal or assistant principal.
If you need to drop your child off early and have no other options -talk to the principal. Do not put the secretaries on the spot by asking them to watch your child. Most offices will agree because they really want to be helpful and are awkward in saying no. Arrangements can be made to keep your child safe and warm in these extra early morning drop offs.
My last comment is on taking attendance. Teachers are required to take attendance electronically first thing in the morning. First thing, not later on. If my attendance is not done within the first ten-minutes I get a call from the secretary asking me where it is. Then the auto-caller starts their work of calling parents to tell them that their child didn’t show up at school that day. What a big mess just because your child is tardy.
Now you show up ten minutes late. Your child must check in at the office, no sneaking in the classroom late. The attendance has automatic phone calling that is required to tell parents that their child has not shown up at school. This is because we all want to be sure your child is actually at school where you sent them.
. The office is supposed to take their lunch count. You can hope that is all working properly. I think it would be embarrassing to have the principal look at me and ask why I am late. What is a good reason? My dad or mom wouldn’t wake up? I have heard that hundreds of times. Kids throw parents under the bus – honest or not.
Commitment is demonstrated from the very first day of school. Is school actually important to you? How will it be important to your child if it isn’t a priority to you.
If you need help getting your child to school on time – talk to the principal. Everyone is on the same team. The team is for your children! Remember these are YOUR children. I hope you appreciate all of the educators who are working for your children to have a great day, every day, at school.