Throughout my teaching career, I’ve had parents and guardians approach me to ask what their child can do when they have to miss a day (or more) of school. Here is the first part of a two part series on how I handle students missing school. (You can catch post #2 – giving alternate assignments – here!)
First, I ask parents – is this a legitimate reason to miss school?
We all get sick, and that is understandable. However, if your child is home “sick” and you let them play video games and watch TV all day – maybe you shouldn’t let those options be available to the “sick” child anymore. It’s amazing how quickly I’ve seen students want to come back to school when being home sick is “soooo boring”. (I’m not suggesting students come to school sick, but I’ve seen far too many students work the system to the point of truancy!)
Does your family vacation HAVE to fall during the school year? Yes, there are times where a vacation may actually be more educational than sitting in school. Or maybe you simply can’t take a vacation during the summer months due to work and other commitments. Teachers understand these things. Can you try to take your vacation over a longer holiday break/weekend? That way your child will not miss out on too much material. Depending on the time of year, we may be covering a LOT of new material!
Please let the teacher/s know ahead of time that your child will be gone! Giving us a heads up at the start of the school year that you plan to take a vacation in February is way early, but we like knowing you will be gone and for approximately how long. However, please don’t expect us to have your child’s work ready immediately. Yes, we do have a rough year long plan of what we will be covering, but it’s nearly impossible to know exactly what lesson we will be on months in advance. Many teachers only formally schedule out a week in advance. Some may go as far as a month, but even those can change. Heck – plans can even change as the day goes by! Please understand this and realize that your child may have a bit of make up work to do when they get back even if you thought you got all of it ahead of time.
Make sure to check your school’s make-up work policy. Some schools require students to have all work turned in before they leave (or earn a zero), while others may have a limit on how many non-medical days a student can miss in a given year. It’s important to know these as a teacher and be able to pass this information along to the student’s family.
Keep communication open. This one may seem obvious, but I’ve had students get up and walk out of class in the middle of a lesson telling me, “I have to leave now.” Thankfully this hasn’t happened too often, but I always called home after such a situation to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. For the most part, my students knew they needed to be in school to get the most out of our lessons and activities. I also kept my administrator/s in the loop. They needed to know if a student was missing too much, if I was having trouble communicating with the parents, or what else may be going on. (Those of you who work in a school with a truancy officer may even get more support than I did.)
This post is geared primarily to parents and guardians. However, check out the next post suggesting ways to handle make up work for students.
If you have further ideas or suggestions to share with parents, please leave them in the comments below.