039 - Attitude, Attendance, and School Performance

Post date: Dec 2, 2015 2:34:03 PM

Counselor Notes 39

March 27, 2015

Attitude, Attendance, and School Performance

In the book Raising Cain by psychologists Dr. Dan Kindlon and Dr. Michael Thompson they cite a rather interesting statistic:

“... Greg Duncan of Northwestern University, along with colleagues at the University of Michigan, studied a group of more than a thousand intact families in the United States over the course of twenty seven years, examining many aspects of family life that were thought to be influential in determining the future occupations and incomes of their children.... Of the dozen or so factors they considered, father attendance at PTA meetings was the most influential in terms of the child's income at age twenty-seven.” (p. 99)

I am sending this out just prior to our Parent – Teacher conferences for a reason. I don’t think it is as simple as if the father would attend Parent – Teacher conferences their child would achieve more materially later in life. Rather I think it is the attitude held in such households – the attitude that school is important. It is so important that the fathers make the effort to attend the conferences.

So while I would certainly encourage fathers (and mothers) to attend parent-teacher conferences, I am more interested in putting emphasis on families doing the things to show that school is important. At the elementary school level, some things to do that are:

1. Send your child to school each day. If they aren’t sick, they should be in school.

2. Get them here on time.

3. Leave them here for the full day. Make every effort to schedule necessary appointments with health professionals on days the child doesn’t have school. Don’t pick them up early because you are “in the area.”

4. Check homework and sign their daily report.

5. Communicate with the teacher. When the child complains of a situation in school, check with the teacher before taking the child’s word for it. Teachers have to make an incredible amount of decisions each day as they go about teaching and supervising the children in their class. They may make mistakes occasionally, but they also have A LOT of experience dealing with children and they also get to lean on the experience of their peers who have “been around the block” a few times as well.

Education can help a child earn more later in life. Making school a priority can help. The U.S. Department of Labor http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm notes:

Education does pay off so please do those things that help establish it as a priority.

“The research also shows how these missed days as early as preschool translate into weaker reading skills…. Good attendance habits begin at home with the right messages from parents and caregivers.” http://www.attendanceworks.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Attendance-in-the-Early-Grades.pdf

“Students with poor attendance in the month before taking the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress scored significantly lower on the test than their peers who had no absences in that time frame, a new analysis by Attendance Works finds.” http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/2014/09/attendance_affects_achievement_study_provides_state-by-state_look.html

I am not trying to say that material attainment is the goal of life. I would note though that it stands to reason that in today’s world a well educated child will be more likely to “be all they can be” than a poorly educated child. That being said, then I would encourage parents to establish in your child’s mind that school is a priority and do so by getting them to school every day, on time, and leaving them here for the full day. Help them with homework and communicate with the teacher. They’ll thank you later.

Doug Muha Ed.S.

School Counselor

Waverly Elementary School