Engaging Families: Universal and Targeted

Especially when children are young, engaging their families is critical to promoting good attendance. Warm welcomes, solid information about classroom activities, constructive problem-solving when attendance is an issue, and recognition as progress is made are the core strategies for engaging families. 

Positive family practices that promote good attendance developed during the preschool years can lay a foundation for what happens in kindergarten and beyond. 

Start with Tier 1, universal strategies that support prevention and awareness by engaging families.  Tier 1 activities involve all students and all families all year long. Educators engage children, parents and staff toward making attendance a high visibility value, creating a culture of attendance and celebrating progress toward consistent on time attendance. Click on the linked titles for details, tools and templates.

  1. Create a welcoming environment. Nothing beats a smile as a welcome mat.  Greeting children and parents at the door with a smile and a word of welcome at the start of the day, and a similar farewell at dismissal is powerful. Everyone from the bus driver to the office staff to the director, teachers, social and health services staff have a role in creating a warm welcome.
  2. Help families keep students healthy. Illness plays a significant role in early childhood absences. Helping families understand when to send a child to school or keep her home, and manage chronic conditions can empower families. 
  3. Use large gatherings to introduce the importance of preschool attendance and monitoring absences. School orientations, back-to-school nights, parent workshops and other family events provide important opportunities for directors and teachers to raise awareness and engage families in dialogue and activities about why attendance is important.  
  4. Celebrate to promote attendance improvements. Recognize good and improved attendance on a predictable routine. Acknowledge the child more frequently, and honor the parents or caregivers. 

Targeted strategies for when absences reach 10 percent or more.

Tiers 2 and 3 personalize and intensify the use of information, strategies and materials provided in Tier 1. Educators, family outreach and health staff, in partnership with parents and caregivers, problem solve around issues that impeded good attendance with individual students.  Click on the linked titles for details.

  1. Tier 2: Reaching out to parents when absences reach 10–19 percent. Use Tier 2 strategies to support, nurture and encourage good attendance when absences begin to add up. The earlier the intervention, the more likely a positive outcome.
  2. Tier 3: Engaging parents when children’s absence is 20 percent or greater. Preschool teachers and family outreach staff are not expected to address the complex needs that arise on their own. Instead, help vulnerable students and their families to tap into resources and supports offered in your community to help them overcome attendance barriers.