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What to Do if Your Child Has Missed Too Much School

Child SneezingResearch shows illness, both physical and mental, is a top reason why students miss school.

Research also shows that students who missed more than 18 days of school were two times more likely to fail the required English standardized tests.  Eighteen missed days works out to approximately two sick days a month.

Not included in the research was children’s school performance before and after an absence.  As a parent you know when your child is getting or has been sick, they may be at school, but they may not be fully present.  If your child was frequently absent this school year, he or she may need the summer to fill academic gaps needed to be successful in the coming year.

What to Do if Your Child Missed Too Much School

Request a Meeting with Your Child’s School

Test scores and report cards come too late to be used to evaluate the need for summer learning.  You will need to schedule a meeting with your child’s school before summer.

If your child is in elementary, meet with your child’s classroom teacher.  If your child is in secondary school, start with your child’s academic counselor and then request feedback from your child’s subject teachers.  Ask if your child missed curriculum units and/or if they have other academic areas of concern.


Consider A Third Party Evaluation

After working with the school, if you feel you still don’t have a good picture of your child’s current academic standing, do not hesitate to obtain a second opinion.  Seek a detailed evaluation of your child’s learning progress from a qualified instructor.  Look for a professional that specializes in academic advising, preferably a counselor, psychologist, or certified teacher.

It is not recommended to use a tutoring chain as they typically employ a standardized evaluation – and your child’s situation is not standard.  Addressing education gaps requires training and experience to understand and evaluate your child’s unique learning needs.


Incorporate Your Child’s Vision

Don’t be surprised if your child is less than enthusiastic over continuing school through the summer.  Struggling in school discourages most students so you need to help build confidence and bridge over learning resistance during the summer.

The best summer learning programs are tailored to fit the student’s needs and interests so they want to go.  The level of customization your child needs depends upon his or her level of commitment, academic deficits and learning style.  Shop with your child and keep looking until you find a summer program your child thinks he or she would like.


Request Private Instruction

If your child has missed too much school, his or her needs are unlikely to fit the traditional classroom style remedial summer schools.  Your child had inconsistent attendance which means subject gaps, not the need to repeat the entire class, so avoid group instruction.

A hybrid group where your child does independent work while the teacher supports 2-3 additional students may work, but expect it to delay your child’s progress as they will be waiting on other students.


Require Flexible Scheduling

If your child is still recovering from illness, you must find them a flexible summer school.  Look for a school where the teacher is willing to come to your home.  Reporting to a classroom every morning is not the only way to make up missed school, so shop around until you find a summer program that fits your child and your family.

Summer school should also be flexible enough to accommodate your family vacations.  Your child only has so many summers off so protect this precious time for them and for your family.

Missing school is an indicator of academic risk, not a determinate.  Using summer to help your child make up for missed school gets them back-on-track and ready for the fall.  And, when done well, summer school can be something your child not only needs, but actually loves.

Research Sources

Erbstein, Nancy. UC Davis Center for Regional Change. Factors Influencing School Attendance for Chronically Absent Students in the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD)

Finck, Julie Baker.  Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation.  When Students Miss School – the High Cost to Houston

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