William Rowen Healthy Roar reporters recently sat down with Mr. Anthony Marable, school climate manager, and Mrs. Sophia Parker, school counselor, to ask why school attendance is important.
School is good for your emotional health and your physical health, according to an 2016 article by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says regular attendance is important for children’s health because schools can provide nutritious food, positive role models, emotional support, connections to community health services, and opportunities for regular physical activity.
This interview has been edited and shortened.
Question: Is regular attendance at school important? If so, why?
Mr. Marable: Yes. Pennsylvania law requires students ages 6 to 18 to go to school every day. That’s the law.
Mrs. Parker: In order to have a good job and make money to support yourself when you grow up, you want to come to school as often as possible so you can learn about as many things as you can to make that happen. Every child is going to be an adult and they will have to get a good job to support their families, to function well in society with others. It’s important that they’re in school learning all the skills they need.
Question: How is our school helping families get their kids to school every day and on time?
Mr. Marable: Some students take the bus to school which helps them get to school on time every day. If a student is late, I’ll call the parent to remind the parent of the time school starts in hopes they will get them to school on time in the future.
Mrs. Parker: It depends on the circumstances. Sometimes we talk to parents. I talk to them to find out why kids are out [of school] and try to help them strategize and get them support. We meet with parents all the time to try to get them to get kids to school.
We also make referrals to get the family support from outside programs that can help the families get their kids to school.
Question: What are some ways that teachers can help students have good attendance?
Mr. Marable: The teacher could reach out to the parent. Teachers can reach out to parents through Class Dojo to remind families to get you to school on time.
Mrs. Parker: Teachers also can check in with Dr. Murray, Mr. Marable, or me. If you know there’s something preventing you from getting to school each day, talk to your teacher. They may have an idea for some ways they can help.
Question: What tips do you have for families who may be having a hard time getting to school every day? What tips are especially good for children to remember?
Mr. Marable: To have a regular bedtime. To set an alarm in the morning. Parents can always call here and speak to us directly if they are having trouble with attendance. Put your gadget down an hour before bedtime. It keeps you awake.
Mrs. Parker: Check on uniforms. Sometimes kids don’t want to come because they don’t have a uniform ready. Make sure you have a uniform out before you go to bed, lay it out the night before.
Even better is, on the weekends, check for clean clothes and tell your family if you need to get more clean clothes so you have your uniforms ready for the week.
Question: Do you think that getting enough sleep is connected to good school attendance?
Mr. Marable: Good sleep, yes! If you don’t get enough sleep, you might wake up late, or you might be slow moving in the morning. You should be getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night.
Question: Why do you want to reach out to parents to encourage them to bring their children to school every day?
Mr. Marable: Because the more time you miss of school, the more your grades suffer. It’s in your best interest to come to school every day.
Mrs. Parker: I reach out because I care. I know that one day you’re going to be an adult out in that world. I want you to have the best schools, to feel happy, feel self-confident, be a problem solver.
When you’re an adult and you don’t have teachers on your back, you can make all of your own decisions. I want to know that we’ve helped you. I want to help.