It turns out that attendance matters as early as preschool in high quality programs. Recent surveys and focus groups show that while parents place a high value on their child’s success they don’t fully understand the connection between good attendance and academic achievement. Among the misperceptions about preschool programs is that absences only begin to matter in first grade. Another misperception is that absences only matter if they occur several days in a row.
Despite these common beliefs there is growing evidence that preschool education in a high quality program is important to school readiness and to reading on grade level by grade 3, a pivotal time in a child’s academic success. Research finds that if young children are chronically absent for more than one year, they are less likely to read proficiently by the end of third grade, and more likely to be retained in elementary school.
Our new Early and Often toolkit is designed to provide you with ideas and materials to help children and families develop strong attendance routines from the outset of schooling. A quick review of the toolkit will orient you to research and strategies that have worked for others. When you invent a strategy that works well, we hope you’ll share the information.
Early and Often’s tools, templates and messaging will encourage good attendance in high quality preschools, and can support your efforts to:
- Welcome and engage children and families as they enter school.
- Provide high visibility for attendance through messaging and engagement.
- Recognize children and families weekly, monthly and at special events.
- Notice when absences, particularly those for health reason, are adding up and guide your efforts to address the issue in a supportive way.