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Don't Skip Class

By Jendi Coursey

As adults, it's hard to remember all the stresses of growing up--learning how to get along with classmates, wanting to be accepted for who you are, trying to understand new academic subjects, and dealing with family dynamics that aren't always easy or straightforward.

Falling behind in school can make life even harder: It lowers self-esteem and can become a negative reinforcing cycle. At Ukiah Unified School District and across the country, students who miss school just two or three days a month (excused absences or not) often struggle to keep up. Over time, missing school puts them at a terrible disadvantage socially and academically. The statistics are clear, missing school means missing out.

Many parents of young schoolchildren--kindergarteners through second graders--mistakenly believe that when their children miss school, it's no big deal. The fact is, by third grade if children do not meet minimum reading standards, their chances of graduating from high school drop. By sixth grade, poor attendance, misbehavior, and course failure can be used to identify 60 percent of kids who won't graduate from high school, according to Attendance Works (attendanceworks.org).

When a child misses a day of school, it takes about three days to catch up, putting him or her at an unfair disadvantage. Not only does the child fall behind, but teachers often must take time away from other students to help the absent student. Absenteeism hurts everyone.

Consistency is the key to success in school. When possible, families should schedule vacations during school holidays, and work together to get kids to school on time every day. If students are sick, parents can refer to the insert "When Is Sick Too Sick for School?" to learn when to keep kids home from school.

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