Preventing Truancy

ParentGuide to Building School Connectedness

andPreventing Disengagement


Students who feel connected to theirschool attend regularly, get better grades, score higher on standardized tests,are more likely to graduate and continue their education, and avoid risky orharmful behaviors.  Making sure that yourchild is in school or class and actively engaged can ensure that he/she receivesthe education that is so critical to life success.  There are specific things you can do to helpthe school staff make your child an involved student.


Communicate with YourChild:

  • Listen and pay attention to what your child issaying and doing
  • Take an active interest in your children’s activities andschoolwork
  • Encourage them to talk about what is going on - what theyare proud of, what they are doing, what they are worried about
  • Ask your child how you can help
  • Think about what situations he or she might faceand talk about ways to handle these situations before they occur.
  • Know the children your child associates with and meet andcommunicate with their parents


Talk aboutExpectations:

  • Let your children know education is important
  • Structure home life with school as a priority
  • Talk with your child aboutacceptable and unacceptable behavior and grades
  • Discuss homework rules and school attendance andmake it clear that you do not approveof unnecessary absences
  • Have clear and consistent expectations
  • Provide incentives – Always reward appropriatebehavior and progress
  • Develop and impose consequences for failure toattend, failure to make the effort to fulfill expectations - some examples:losing television or video game time, limiting time with friends, loss ofcomputer or cell phone privileges 


Be Prepared:

  • Prepare your child for school with study space, requiredsupplies, etc.
  • Learn the teacher’s and school’s expectations regarding learning,behavior and communication
  • Know the school’s attendance policy andschedule, as well as the difference between an excused and unexcused absence, and sharethe information withyour child
  • Establish an appropriate time for your child togo to bed, wake up, have a healthy breakfast, arrive at school, and completehis/her homework
  • Monitor things in your home such as familyroutines that may prevent you or your child from keeping to the school day schedule
  • If you need assistance, reach out for helpthrough school and community resources


Make School a Priority

  • Plan visits to the doctor or dentist after theschool day ends, on Saturday or school holidays
  • If you must take an appointment during theschool day, allow the child to miss only time needed for that appointment
  • Encourage your child to participate in schoolactivities
  • Facilitate extracurricular activities with peers,sports, dance, clubs, etc. but not to the degree they interfere with schoolwork
  • Plan vacations around school: Always talk with the school before you plan yourholiday or vacation
  • Don’t take students out of school for frivolous reasons. Refuseto write an excuse for unacceptable reasons
  •  Limit time on TV, computer and video games till homework isdone
  • Check homework
  • Ask child to demonstrate what he/she learned in school
  • If child needs help you cannot provide, find someone whocan.  Talk to the teacher. Honor societystudents often tutor and some schools have mentoring/tutoring programs


Work with the School - Stay Informed & Get Involved

  • Read school newsletters, notices and email communications
  • If English is not your primary language requestmaterials and communications in your language; request a translator for allmeetings                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  •  Attend home/schoolmeetings, back to school nights, school events
  • Communicate with teachers
  • Contact guidance counselors, nurse or other staff as neededto support your child
  • If possible volunteer in the library, classroom and/or atspecial events; offer to share aspects of your culture or job with a class
  • Beavailable: Make sure the school has correct contact information, home, work& cell phone numbers for you, other family members and designatedcaretakers.
  • Behonest: Talk with the principal and school social worker regarding changes thatmay affect the child’s behavior such as divorce, death or sickness in thefamily, a missing pet or possible move. If your child has special needs, inform the teacher at the start of theyear.
  • Help theteacher connect with your child: Tell the teacher about your child’s hobbiesand interests
  • Getadvice: Ask the teacher for suggestions related to attendance
  • Collaborate:  Be familiar with the school district’sdisciplinary policies to ensure that actions at home support or reinforce theactions of the school
  • Followup:  When your child must miss schoolbecause of illness, contact the school immediately and arrange to pick upassignments, if necessary


Howdo I address problems?

If you know your child is late to school, missingschool, skipping class, not making an effort or not interested in attendingschool, you can help.


Be Alert:

  • Look for early signs of a child’s decision thatschool is not worthwhile
  • Monitor changes in friendships, teachers, andclassrooms or within the family.  A move,death, divorce, etc will affect a child and may interfere with schoolperformance
  • Recognize good behavior and accomplishments, butbe aware of negative behavior changes such as not bringing work home, avoidingschool work, or former friends, and for adolescents associating with lessdesirable peers, alcohol use or staying out late
  • Be open to possible problems with learning orwith peer relations
  • Take your child’s complaints about difficultyreading, doing math, concentrating etc. seriously and talk to his/her teacher, guidancecounselor or the Intervention & Referral Services chairperson.
  • Seek a counselor if your child’s behaviorbecomes distant, withdrawn, anxious, depressed, delinquent or aggressive


Look for Alternatives:

  • If your child tells you he or she is bored atschool talk to the teacher and consult with other school personnel for guidance
  • Help your child build on strengths and feel goodabout him/herself and about school
  • Consult with school personnel for guidance andhelp
  • Pursue in-school enrichment activities; helphim/her find a new experience or role in school (i.e. help a teacher, read toyounger children, tutor, help in the library, pursue a special interest)
  • Seek activities in or outside the school thatwill build self worth and confidence. (Examples: music lessons, sports, clubs,neighborhood or church-related youth groups, or mentors)
  • Enroll your child in a tutoring program, ifnecessary (often honor society students offer tutoring)


Be Pro-Active:

  • Pay attention to what your child is doing, howhe/she is using time, who the friends are, what is going well and whereproblems could be developing
  • Have clear and consistent expectations and agreedupon rewards and consequences
  • Work at maintaining open communication
  • Check in with his/her teachers on a regularbasis regarding performance and attendance.
  • Review test papers and projects
  • Speak to other parents and guardians who haveexperienced the same issues and problems as

this can be a great way toget valuable advice and information 

Involve People, Churches, Businessand Community Resources in the Education of Your Child:

  • Participate:  Sign up and attend parenting educationprograms.  This is a great place to learnnew techniques and to share what you have learned
  • Create ahomework or study group:  Seek otherparents or older children who are willing to help you and your child withhomework.  Make your home the homeworkcenter or develop a telephone or internet tree to make help available to allthe neighborhood children and their parents
  • Makeyourself aware of what is going on in the community that could benefit youand/or your child, ex activities at the Library, recreation and enrichmentprograms, school board meetings
  • Seek consistency:  Insist that all community agencies, socialworkers, school counselors or juvenile officers work together to develop acoordinated plan of support for your child
  • Be a schoolvolunteer or mentor: Volunteer to be a mentor and help children address remedialneeds and/or needs not currently supported in school such as music, arts, otherenrichment areas, even poetry
  • Vote:  Vote in local school board elections andvoice your opinion about what is working or not working in schools