Showing Up Matters for R.E.A.L. Step 1

Explain Why Attendance Matters

Promoting daily attendance starts with effectively making the case that it matters. Even before the pandemic, research found that families had high hopes for their children, yet did not always realize that showing up nearly every day to school was crucial to academic achievement. Families thought absences weren’t a problem unless they were unexcused. Most often they did not realize how many days their child had missed, and did not recognize that missing just two days a month could cause their child to fall behind.

To re-engage students after two years of off-again, on-again schedule changes and increasingly infectious pandemic variants, educators and community partners need to adjust how they explain the importance of attendance. That also means taking into account the needs of the whole child as well as the experiences of the pandemic.

Each stakeholder should be able to explain that daily attendance matters, not only for academic success, but because school offers an opportunity to develop social and emotional skills such as listening, paying attention, problem-solving and self-regulation, all which are needed to grow and learn. School staff and community partners can use the R.E.A.L. framework to clarify the value of school and tackle any lingering misperceptions.

Ideas and Resources

Here are strategies to help you to effectively communicate with families about why attendance matters. Each of these can be incorporated into what you are already doing. Keep the tone positive, non-threatening and supportive, whether you are speaking face-to-face, via a video call or in writing.

  • Agree upon the key messages that you want to highlight in your community. Consider adapting the concept of R.E.A.L. when communicating with families with young children and older children, and when talking with youth/teenagers. Click here to learn more about R.E.A.L. and find the concepts tailored for talking with different groups.

  • Create visual reminders of the importance of attendance for student engagement and learning in the classroom or hallways, or on the school website, using downloadable resources such as attendance posters and Attendance Awareness Campaign badges.

  • Integrate talking points into daily interactions with students and families using morning greetings, robocalls home (find scripts for Back-to-School, or Summer Opportunities), and recognition of positive behavior. Updated materials coming soon!

  • Leverage social media. Updated materials coming soon!