Early Matters: District & Community Supports
Organize Attendance Campaigns that Reach Families with Young Children
Research conducted by the Ad Council found that parents typically want their children to do well in school. However, most don’t know how many days their student is absent each year, and few understand the connection between strong attendance, especially for our youngest students, and achievement. Families are still just learning that chronic absence, or missing just 2 days each month, starting in preschool and kindergarten can result in young children falling behind.
Community-wide messaging campaigns can make it easier for educators working in early childhood settings or elementary schools to share this important information with families and for families to hear reinforcing messages everywhere they go. Include and emphasize messages to make it clear that children with disabilities and health needs are welcome in our schools.
Typically, community wide messaging campaigns create a logo, billboards, flyers, talking points and other materials that everyone can use. Campaigns arrange for public service announcements on the radio, television and even highway billboards. They often generate resources to offer incentives recognizing good and improved attendance.
Campaigns typically start at the beginning of the school year and then continue throughout the year. They include strategies to address predictable attendance dips, for example, before and after the holidays, during rainy or snowy weather, or at the end of the year.
The ideas and resources below can be used to develop community-wide messaging campaigns.
Integrate messaging about developing the habit of consistent attendance as a readiness skill into your district’s registration drives.
Ensure messaging speaks to the realities of families with young children and families, not just those with older children. Tailor messaging to the languages and cultures of families with young children in your community. Use family handouts developed by Attendance Works (in several languages).
Make sure attendance incentive programs encourage improved attendance. Ensure that young children who miss school due to health needs are welcomed in classrooms and included in incentive programs. Offering feedback each day and at the end of a week is ideal. For tips on developing attendance incentives, watch Module II of Teaching Attendance On-Line Learning Curriculum available at no cost to those who register. We also know that incentive programs work best when tailored to local circumstances. Read our blog describing a framework for educators interested in implementing incentives to improve student attendance, with a list of questions to help shape an incentive program.
Link messaging about the importance of showing up to school with assistance to help families overcome barriers. Consider some of the Attendance Works resources for addressing barriers.
Leverage the Attendance Works national Attendance Awareness Campaign, including the Count Us In Toolkit and other resources.
Click here to read how others have developed community-wide messaging campaigns.
Site Level Practices
Schools, preschool and districts can integrate attendance into these five site level practices that support the transition to kindergarten
District and Community Supports
Whether or not preschools and schools integrate attendance into the site level practices is heavily influenced by whether districts and other key community partners work together to put in place systems to support adoption of good practice at scale. These supports create a foundation for infusing attendance into kindergarten transition efforts.