How important is attendance in the early grades?

Do you know how essential attendance in the early grades is? Over on Twitter, people were discussing this issue. I decided to share what I found. I watch social media closely and it's my job to share some of the hot topics on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other outlets that teachers, principals, students, and parents are contributing.

So just how important is attendance in the early grades? According to an infographic posted by Alex Corbitt, it's essential. The main argument behind the importance of attendance in the early grades is that students end up missing the basic building blocks of learning. They'll fall behind in basic math skills and reading comprehension skills among others. Statistics back this up. According to the infographic, 64 percent of  students with a high attendance rate in the early grades can read after third grade. This same number is only 17 percent for children who were chronically absent (defined as missing 18 or more days during Kindergarten and first grade combined).

So how big of a problem is this? Bigger than it should be. The infographic states that one in 10 students count as chronically absent. These numbers are even worse for low-income kids (two in 10) and homeless children (2.5 in 10). Transient kids, those who are moving during the early years of school, have the worst record with four in 10 students counting as chronically absent.

attendance in the early grades, infographic, elementary school

The next question is “what can we do about it?” We're their teachers, not their parents, so it's easy to feel helpless in this situation. But we're not helpless. Let families know how important it is that their child attend school regularly. You can also teach parents and students about having a healthy life style, as poor health is a big reason many students miss school. Encourage schools to examine their transportation system and find out if students missing buses or not having easy access to one is behind their absence. It's also important to keep track of attendance so you can find out if any students are missing too many days.

What other ideas do you have to help solve this problem? Do you think this trend will continue, fade out, or stay the same? Do you think the recent increase of technology in the classroom can help solve this problem? How?

Tori Pakizer is the Social Media Editor at SimpleK12.com. She writes regularly about the use of educational technology in K-12 classrooms, and specializes in how teachers use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media. You can follow Tori and SimpleK12 on Twitter @SimpleK12. If you have ideas for using social media in schools, please send your information or tip to editor@simplek12.com.