Help kids achieve good attendance. Being in school matters!

Did you know that research shows just two missed days of school every month, even in kindergarten, can cause a child to suffer academically and decrease the chances that he or she will graduate?

While some absences are unavoidable, they quickly add up. If a student misses 18 or more days out of a 180-day school year, for any reason excused or unexcused, he or she is considered chronically absent. This has consequences for both students and their families, the biggest of which is missed educational opportunities. Arriving late and leaving before the school day ends also can rob students of their learning.

What the law says

State law requires all students who are enrolled in school to attend school regularly, with limited exceptions.

What VPS requires

Parents and guardians must provide their children’s schools with excuses for all absences, late arrivals and early departures, either before or within three days of the student’s return to school. Refer to your child’s individual school handbook for details on documenting absences or visit

District policy and state law require VPS to act on unexcused absences. These actions can range from notifying the parent(s) or guardian(s) to scheduling a conference and developing an attendance agreement. In extreme cases, legal action may be required by state law.

State law also requires staff to conference with a parent and/or guardian and their elementary-age child(ren) who have five or more excused absences in a month or 10 or more excused absences in the current school year, except when prior written notice has been given or a doctor’s note was provided and an academic plan exists to keep the student on track.

How you can help your child

Parents and families can make a difference in school attendance. According to many parents, establishing a routine is the key to getting to school on time and ensuring good attendance.

Schools can help students and families who are unable to get to class on time or attend regularly. Contact the office staff or a Family-Community Resource Center coordinator for more information.

Attendance matters. See you at school!

Tips for good attendance

On the VPS Facebook page, we asked parents to share their tips for getting their kids to school on time and helping them achieve good attendance. Here’s what they said:

Establish a routine

  • “Get everything ready the night before and go to bed no later than 8 p.m. There is nothing like a set and proven routine. A good nutritious breakfast is a must, too.” —Ella Lungwitz
  • “I have a 6-year-old who started school this year. We started waking early to get used to the time change. We went through the morning run, even walking to the bus stop at the time needed and going over bus safety and safe houses if his bus buddy wasn’t there to pick him up.” —Reashel McCormck
  • “Consistency!” —Melissa Rilette Newhouse
  • “Set a regular bedtime.” —Tamara Roark Shoup
  • “Routine, routine, routine. Kids like routine even when they argue it. They strive to know and do better. My son in all his years barely missed any school. When he was in elementary, we went to bed at 8, made and packed lunches the night before and always woke up one-and-a-half hours before we had to be out the door to give us extra time for traffic or sleeping in or something like that. In middle school, we allowed him to stay up until 9. Everything else stayed the same. In high school, he could stay up until 10 and everything stayed the same until he got his job at 16 and we had to adjust accordingly. I think the most important thing is to remember not every kid is the same. What works for one child may not work for another. You know your kid(s) the best, so work out a schedule that fits them. As an adult, you NEED to sacrifice yourself and make routine in your child’s life a priority! My son graduated last year and he was pretty much doing everything on his own in his senior year. We started him with an alarm clock when he was 8 years old, teaching him the responsibility of setting the alarm, getting up to the alarm and at night setting it again for the next morning. He ALWAYS did it himself so he felt like a big kid, even at a young age. I didn’t want to have to wake him up and sound like a nagging parent. There were VERY few times I actually had to get him up. I have friends who have kiddos in high school and they still wake them up every morning. Trust me, kids like routine. It works. Try it. Be CONSTANT!” —Mandy Lucci

Get organized

  • “I make my kids have EVERYTHING they’ll need ready the night before!” —Jenny Potts Freitas
  • “Lists on the dry erase board.” —Charlene Welch
  • “We made a poster with all the things that need to get done before leaving for school (eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, etc.). The poster also includes the time when each item needs to be done. My son checks the items on the poster against the time, which allows him to get ready on his own and get to school on time.” —Anonymous
  • “I take and pick up my grandkids, three total. I have homework boxes with needed supplies. Right after school they do their homework, and I or an adult will look over the homework. Everything goes into their backpacks and packs stay at my house. They go home and before going to bed, they prep for the next day. They come to my house in the morning and start the routine over. Never have they been late and between all three have probably never missed more than a dozen days of school, if even that. They mostly get perfect attendance.”—Pamela A. Schwartz

Establish a support system

  • “When it was hard, I sought out friends she could go to before school so I could balance work and punctuality.” —Delena Meyer

Find resources

  • “The bus!” —Sarah Trager Logan

Create excitement

  • “Have to start by getting them excited. My girls are excited to see all their friends again.” —Jeremiah Reed Cox
This and other stories originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Inside Vancouver Public Schools.