Whether due to prolonged illness or a family vacation, extended student absences are difficult for both teachers and students to manage.

Unfortunately, absences, both student and teacher, are part of school life. While teachers are often able to prepare in advance for their own absences, children don’t always have that opportunity, which can be detrimental to their learning progress. Life happens, and things like a death in the family, severe student illness, or family vacation can lead to extended student absences.

Regardless of the circumstances, student absences will cause pupils to fall behind their classmates. “Examining students’ school attendance and their scores on the NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) 2013 mathematics assessment sheds light on the link between school absences and achievement,” according to the National Center for Education Statistics. “Students with fewer absences, on average, scored higher than their peers with more absences.” These effects might be temporary and children could potentially compensate for absences, but a student’s education shouldn’t suffer simply because he or she is unable to attend class within the classroom. Use the following tools to support a child’s educational advancement during extended student absences.

1. Create a Curriculum Care Package

student absencesCreate copies of lesson points and organize a set of materials that are distributed during the school day. By showing a child that you’re going the extra mile to provide an education, he or she will be more inclined to compensate for time spent outside the classroom. Within the care package, include points that will be covered upon the student’s return if the duration of the absence is predetermined.

2. Use the Buddy System

Enlist other students to deliver the care package to the absent student’s home. Try to pair students at the beginning of the school year to prepare for absences. Through this method, teachers are able to cultivate an environment of teamwork within the classroom, which will help students throughout their lives. Be sure to receive parental permission from all parties involved prior to organizing this buddy system and encourage a guardian to accompany the student who is delivering the materials.

3. Have a Skype Session

student absencesIf possible, arrange for students to join class via Skype when they are away from school. With many students taking remote college courses and employees working from home, this could show children that there are no roadblocks to learning and working hard. This tactic will allow children who are absent from the classroom to listen in on lessons and also participate in the learning process. Always discuss with parents to ensure children have access to the appropriate technology.

4. Enlist the Administration

Hold a meeting with school administration to discuss the prolonged or excessive student absences. Examine district policy and brainstorm regarding how to keep the student current during his or her time away from the classroom. It takes a village to raise a child. Remember that the administration exists to work in the best interest of the student and help you to educate children.

While dealing with student absences using the methods listed above can help, teachers must also be proactive. Combating absenteeism will provide greater results in the long run. For teachers, keeping in mind that extensive time spent away from the classroom might be the sign of a larger, more serious issue at home is important. Know how to identify the signs that a student is facing trauma, rather than facing a temporary illness or enjoying a vacation.

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