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Winter Vacations and Chronic Truancy

School Counseling Confessions

It’s getting cold up here in the northeast.  It’s snowing with wind chills at or below zero-  Brrrrr!  Can’t you just feel the chill.   All the perfect ingredients for some of my students to take a trip to the tropical countries where many of their families are from.  Just this week alone I have had 3 families that are leaving school for an extended period of time.   Many times they let us know just days before there big trip or sometimes not at all, which drives me crazy!

It’s not that I am against family vacations.  It is so important to unite as a family and enjoy quality time together.  It is long amounts of time from school,  many times they can extend for a month or longer, where I feel like my hands are tied.  Chronic absenteeism (absences that consist of 10% of the school year, that is 18+ days or more!) is a big problem in school districts across the country.

Chronic absenteeism at my school is on the decline but not without hard work.  The entire school stresses to students each day about being “in school, on time, everyday”. Many times students want to come to school and it is the parents in an elementary school that are the cause of truant behavior.

Teaching parents as well as students the importance of coming to school everyday is so important.  I encourage you to do this with your students and your parents.  Many parents do not understand that just 2 days a month can lead to chronic absenteeism at the end of the school year.  I also have to teach parents that in my school district every 4 TARDIES= 1 ABSENCE.  This can be complicated but it is so important for families to understand that just a few minutes late everyday can have major implications, such as truancy court.

I fully realize that truancy court is not the answer for every absent student but what do we do for the student who repeats first grade from only attending 40 days of school last year? Or the families that I have filed truancy petitions on year after year and there is still no change in their behavior?  We know that the dropout rate increases with each year a student is chronically absent.  What are we to do?  For me, truancy court is a last resort but is necessary for parents who do not put their child’s education first.

 I can only show you the small difference that I am making in my school.  Hopefully, if we all work together state to state and district to district we can work together to stop chronic absenteeism.  

How to increase attendance in the WINTER- (1)

The vacation request form, a FREEBIE on TpT,  is used with teachers and the office staff so we can document any vacations and reasons why.  I feel that it is important to track the amount of vacations a student takes in the school year and to compare the data from year to year. Is the same student taking the same time off each year?  The policy also lets parents know that they are responsible for the missed work.   If the vacation is longer than 2 weeks they have to meet with the principal and myself to go over the school policy and to remind parents that the days missed are unexcused absences.  Also, I reiterate the fact that you can NEVER replace those days that are spent in the classroom learning.

Vacation request form tpt cover

Many school counselors, administrators and educators know about AMAZING website, that gives tons of information about attendance.  If you don’t you know about it, click on the link above and get well acquainted with it.  Join there newsletter and stay informed.  Join Attendance Awareness Month, each September were you start the year off right and have activities and try to boost attendance from the beginning.  Let’s work together!  What do you do to try to decrease chronic absenteeism in your school or district?  Share with me on Pinterest and Instagram.

**I get no compensation at all from, they just really know there attendance information:)

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  1. I agree with you about the importance of attendance. Teachers must also exercise this and be good examples.

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