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Everyday Does Count

We all suffer from ‘Monday-itis’ and have the urge to hit the snooze button a couple of times or just let the kids sleep in and they can have a quiet day at home, one day will not matter too much. The trouble is all of those individual days actually start to add up.

I attended a professional development regarding student absenteeism in primary and secondary schools and the various reasons behind this and seriousness of it. There are genuine reasons for students being absent and winter is certainly proof of ill health affecting not just student health but also staff health. Schools, like other work places, can go through periods where there are an unprecedented number of staff absent due to ill health or they are looking after family members who are ill. These are genuine circumstances, which is a part of life. It is the ‘Monday-itis’ days and quiet days where students are not at school which can be a problem.

There is an increased number of students across the board, who attend school in a ‘part time’ capacity for a number of reasons. Such reasons include family situations, mental health issues including anxiety, genuine ongoing illnesses and so on. Then there are those students who are given days off for reasons such as their birthday, it’s too hot, it’s too cold, they are tired and many others. Over my many years of teaching, I have seen a lot of different absent notes and heard a lot of different reasons which have amused me!

The impact on students missing many days of school can be huge and if this starts in primary school, it can be a pattern that continues into secondary school. Students who arrive late to school in the mornings miss out on so much let alone an entire day. For the junior students, they miss morning reading sessions and the routine for the day and for the older students, it is that social talk, routine and plan for the day. Arriving on time is equally important and again, sets a pattern for later in life. Would you be late for work every day and expect your boss to be ok with it? The same applies in a school environment. Yes there are times when things go wrong, traffic or unavoidable situations but day in and day out impacts students.

Missing numerous days means missing out on new topics that are introduced, consolidating others, the routine of each day, missing specialist classes and the experiences they bring, developing friendships and working on those friendships, confidence and the basic foundations for their learning that they will need as they move through their primary years. As teachers, we must write reports that, requires a lot of work and various assessment tasks that students need to complete. When they are away, they miss tasks and come back to school often faced with new assessment tasks plus the ones they have already missed out on. We need to get the most accurate picture to write an informed report for each student and this can be difficult when students are away for reasons other than genuine illness or approved absences.

If you are having difficulty getting your child to school for whatever reason, contact your child’s teacher or the school for support and assistance. They may be having friendship issues, finding the work too hard or not enjoying school for other reasons. This is certainly, not what teachers like to hear but they will be able to support you and your child.

Yes, there are days when my alarm goes off and I wish I could turn it off and roll over and go back to sleep but that doesn’t last long. Sometimes our children need the motivation and modelled behaviour from us as parents to get up and get going in the mornings even when times are tough and it is cold outside!

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