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Preventing Your Child from Missing School

When a bright, capable, and promising child comes home with a below average or failing report card, many parents respond with anger and frustration.

Bright teenagers with behavioral and emotional problems often manage to keep up their grades and create the illusion that all is well. When those grades begin to slip, or suddenly drop precipitously, this serves as an urgent warning to moms and dads that the teenager who was furiously treading water is now drowning. Underachieving teens often find themselves in a vicious cycle.

Cycle of School Failure:

1. Poor grades
2. Negative reaction by teachers/parents
3. Drop in self-esteem
4. Struggle to catch up
5. Worse grades
6. Teachers begin to "give up" on the child
7. Another drop in self-esteem
8. Apathy
9. Worse grades
10. Student begins to skip school or drop out all together

Failing school can lead to social impairment if the student is held back, economic impact if the student drops out or cannot continue his or her education, and emotional impact as the cycle of failure diminishes the teen's self-esteem.

If your child is failing in school, avoiding homework, skipping classes, or threatening to drop out, or simply not achieving at his or her potential, there are probably underlying behavioral and emotional problems causing the academic issues.

If your teen is frequently absent or truant from school, he or she is statistically at highest risk for dropping out of high school. If your teen has repeated a year due to failing grades, he or she is at even higher risk of dropping out before finishing his or her education.

High School drop outs are 72% more likely to be unemployed and they will earn 27% less than high school graduates.

The National Dropout Prevention Center has identified many strategies that have had positive effects on the dropout rate. Among them are:

• Service learning
• Reading and writing programs
• Out-of-school experiences
• Mentoring/tutoring
• Learning style/multiple intelligences strategies
• Instructional technologies
• Individualized instruction
• Family involvement
• Conflict resolution
• Community collaboration
• Career education/workforce readiness
• Alternative schooling

You can help prevent your child skipping school by:

• ask about school work and encourage them to get involved in school activities
• discussing any problems they may have at school - inform their teacher about anything serious
• making sure they understand the importance of good attendance and punctuality
• not letting them take time off school for minor ailments, particularly those which would not prevent you from going to work
• taking an interest in their education

Arranging appointments and outings after school hours, at weekends or during school holidays will help to prevent disruption to your youngster’s education and to the school. Under normal circumstances, you should not expect the school to agree to your youngster going on holiday during term time.

There are many different issues which can affect school attendance. Examples include problems with:

• work and money
• transport to and from school
• housing or care arrangements
• bullying

If your youngster starts missing school, there may a problem you are not aware of. Ask your youngster first, then approach their teacher or form tutor.

Support from the school—

Your youngster’s school is the first place to go to discuss any attendance problems. The school should try to agree a plan with you to improve your youngster’s attendance (e.g., the fast-track to attendance program). If you don’t follow the plan and things don’t improve, the school will take further action. 1,200 schools are currently using Parent Support Advisers (PSAs) to work with moms and dads to improve kid's behavior and attendance. The government is expanding the availability of PSAs to allow them to reach 10 to 15 schools in each local authority.

Support from your local authority—

Your local authority can also help if you are struggling to ensure that your youngster goes to school. Potential forms of support include:

• working with families and schools to overcome bullying and other serious problems
• support to help reduce the burden on kids where families are in difficulty (for example, if a youngster is spending a lot of time caring for someone)
• home tuition for kids with long term and recurring illnesses, so they do not fall too far behind

Parenting contracts—

If your youngster is missing school without good reason, one option the school or local authority might suggest is a parenting contract.

A parenting contract is a voluntary written agreement between you and either the local authority or the school’s governing body. Parenting contracts aren’t a punishment - they’re used to help you and the school or local authority work together to improve your youngster’s attendance, and get you access to practical support. Under the contract you agree to do certain things - for example, ensure that your youngster arrives at school punctually every day.

If your youngster is not attending school regularly, however, and you refuse to agree to a contract or do not keep to its terms, this can be used as evidence if the local authority decides to prosecute you.

Here is a sample “Parenting Contract” regarding school (adjust to fit your child’s needs):


Parents' Commitment—

ATTENDANCE:

 We understand that every three unexcused tardies or early dismissals will be recorded as an unexcused absence on our child’s record and put him/her at risk of repeating the grade.
 We understand that if our child is absent for more than 12 days in the school year without a school-approved excuse, he/she will need to repeat the grade.
 We understand that if our child is late for school without a school-approved excuse, he/she will be required to serve after-school detention that same day.
 We understand that our child will not be permitted to enter the school building before 7:15 a.m.
 We understand that our child will not earn credit for work missed after absences.
 We understand that the school day ends at 4:30 p.m., and we will make arrangement so that our child can remain at Foundation Academy until that time and be picked up promptly at that time.
 We understand that the school year runs from the beginning of August through June and we will not plan family vacations or other extended absences to occur on school days.
 We will ensure that our child comes to school every day by 7:30 a.m.
 We will make sure that our son/daughter promptly makes up missed work following absences.
 We will telephone the school prior to 8:00 a.m. on the day of any absence to report why our son/daughter is out.

HOMEWORK:

 We agree to check our son/daughter’s homework daily to ensure that it’s complete, accurate and neat.
 We understand that our son/daughter will be required to serve an after-school detention the same day if he/she does not complete assigned homework or completes homework that does not meet Foundation Academy standards.
 We understand that our son/daughter will have 90 minutes to two hours of homework each night, including weekends.
 We will provide a quiet, undisturbed time and space for our son/daughter to complete his/her homework.

DRESS CODE:

 We understand that if our son/daughter comes to school in violation of the school dress code, he or she may not be permitted to attend class, may need to wait for the appropriate clothing to be brought from home and will receive an automatic after-school detention to be served that day.
 We will ensure that our son/daughter comes to school each day in proper dress, according to the guidelines listed in the Parent-Student Handbook.

PROMOTION POLICY:

 We understand that our son/daughter must pass all but one class in order to be promoted to the next grade. More than one failure will result in retention.

DISCIPLINE:

 We understand that detentions happen on the day of the offense.
 We understand that if our son/daughter is suspended that he/she will have to be picked up from school on the day of the offense, that we will have to accompany the child for a meeting in order for the child to return to classes and that our son/daughter will have to present a sincere written and verbal apology before the community.
 We understand that it is our son/daughter’s responsibility to contact us and let us know that he/she has earned an after-school detention.
 We understand that our son/daughter cannot be excused from detention unless there is a documented family emergency.
 We understand that our son/daughter may be suspended if he/she misses an after-school detention.
 We understand that our son/daughter will have to remain in school until at least 5:20 p.m. if he/she commits a detention-level offense and that we are responsible for ensuring his/her safe transportation home after detention.

FAMILY SUPPORT:

 We understand that we are not required to sign this contract as a term of our son/daughter’s admission to Foundation Academy, but do so voluntarily because we believe that Foundation Academy is a partnership between moms and dads and teachers in creating the best possible education for our son/daughter.
 We agree to support our son/daughter’s academic work by communicating regularly with our son/daughter’s teachers.
 We agree to attend all Parent-Teacher Conferences for which we are scheduled so that we may collect our son/daughter’s report card and meet with his/her teachers to discuss our son/daughter’s performance in school.

Student's Commitment—

 I commit to consistently work, think and behave in the best way I know how and will do whatever it takes for me and my classmates to learn and to prepare myself for college.
 I will attend Foundation Academy from the beginning of the summer session in August through June.
 I will wear my uniform to school every day and adhere to the Foundation Academy dress code.
 I will complete all of my homework and reading every night.
 I will raise my hand and ask questions in class if I do not understand something.
 I embrace and will consistently model the values of caring, respect, responsibility and honesty.
 I am responsible for my own behavior and I will follow the teacher’s directions. If I make a mistake, I will tell the truth to my teachers, accept responsibility for my actions and sincerely apologize to those who I have wronged.
 I will remain at school daily until 4:30 p.m.
 I will arrive at school every day by 7:30 a.m.

Parent’s Name: _______________
Student’s Name: _______________
Date: __/__/__

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