Early Education Providers

Preschool is the ideal time to introduce children and families to the importance of consistent on-time attendance and to encourage strong attendance habits. Educators, policymakers, researchers and families agree: Early education is vital to a child’s success. A high-quality preschool program can build early literacy and math skills, as well as develop the social and emotional foundation children need to persist in school. But preschoolers only receive the full effect of these benefits if they show up for class regularly.  What happens in preschool and early education can lay the foundation for good attendance habits in kindergarten and elementary school. This Why Attendance Matters handout lays out why early education providers should care about attendance and how they can establish good attendance habits from the start. Below are additional resources to help you take action.  
Research
  • Research documents that missing more than 10 percent of school starting in preschool  compromises the capacity of even a strong preschool program to instill the skills necessary for reading readiness and other school readiness skills.

    Attendance works has  summarized a number of research studies in the handout Why Attendance Matters for Early Education that explain how chronic absence in preschool and kindergarten can predict poor attendance and weak academic performance in the later grades. Find more research showing how chronic absence in early childhood education years can predict who will miss too much school later on in our Early Education Research section.

Family Engagement
Educating and motivating parents and caregivers to promote attendance during the early childhood years is essential. Since parents may be reluctant to show up for an event specifically on attendance, it often is more effective to build the topic into broader family occasions.  Try these key resources for engaging families:  
Children's Engagement
When children are engaged in tracking their own attendance, they can help motivate parents to get them to preschool on time. Materials from the Perfectly Punctual Campaign suggest a structure for how to engage children directly.
Self Assessment
Use this tool to examine whether your program has the right policies and practice in place to improve student attendance. If possible, find an opportunity for a team of key stakeholders to take the assessment. Compare your answers. If you have differences in opinion about an item, take the time to explore why you may have different perceptions and what that might mean for action steps.
Toolkits
Preschool Attendance: The goal of the Attendance Works’ Early and Often toolkit is to help high quality preschools engage families so that they get their children to attend preschool every day possible.
The Chicago Office of Early Childhood Education developed this toolkit to help preschool programs promote good attendance.

Kindergarten Transition: The University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development has developed a toolkit to help preschoolers manage the transition to kindergarten, based on a program used in the Pittsburgh Public Schools in recent years.