Attendance, proper rest are essential to school success

Sara Lucero
Guest Columnist

Let me be the first to say, welcome back to the 2017-2018 school year! The schools have been cleaned and teachers have been working hard preparing for the new year. We are all eagerly awaiting the first day and the opportunity to meet our new students and greet our returning students. While there is still some time before the first day of school, now is the time to start preparing. Aug. 29 is the first day for grades 1-7 and 9. Aug. 30 is the first day for kindergarten and grades 10-12.

Attendance and being on time for school are very important to students. Students who are late to school are often running from behind when they enter the classroom. This causes students to be on edge when they walk in the door and for many students it is very difficult to turn their day around. Establishing morning routines and teaching students to wake up to an alarm are two easy steps to help students get to school on time. Additionally, a morning picture schedule or checklist can help younger students become familiar with a morning routine. Not only is getting to school on time important, but so is attendance. A 2008 study at Arizona State University by the Rodel Community Scholars found that drop out patterns were linked with student attendance patterns starting in kindergarten. In fact, by 6th grade, chronic absenteeism becomes a leading indicator for a student who will drop out. Attendance is so important that, even in early elementary school, poor attendance can negatively influence a child’s reading proficiency by 3rd grade. 

Consistent bed times and bed-time routines can help students start the year off right. The National Foundation for Sleep recommends that children who are 3-5 years old get between 10 to 13 hours of sleep, children who are 6-13 years old should get between 9 to 11 hours of sleep, and teenagers should get between 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night. Starting a bed-time routine one week before school starts can help set students up for success as the new school year begins. 

For our new students, those changing schools, or even students returning to the same school, a new school year can cause students to be nervous or overwhelmed. To combat feeling of angst it is important to talk about the transition, visit the new school before school starts, plan walking or biking routes for getting to and from school, and attend open houses. 

Finally, read! Read to your kids. Read with your kids. Model reading for your kids. Listen to audiobooks and talk about the story. Twenty minutes of reading a day can have an immense impact on your child’s academic success. 

As always, my door is open. Please feel free to stop by or call me if/when questions arise. 

I can’t wait for the first day of school. I still get butterflies in my stomach!

(Sara Lucero is principal of Jefferson and Highland Park elementary schools.)