Attendance Awareness: Showing Up Matters

A new toolkit outlines how schools can build routines, increase engagement, provide access to resources, and support learning to reap big rewards when it comes to student attendance.

Topics: Family and Stakeholder Engagement

For Attendance Awareness Month, which takes place in September, Attendance Works has created a new framework—the R.E.A.L. Framework—that breaks down how schools can better communicate key messages that highlight the importance of attendance in student learning. The framework is designed to help school leaders explain to families the importance of showing up to school, especially given the challenges experienced and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to help you reflect with your staff on what your school needs to do to make showing up worthwhile.

What’s the R.E.A.L. Framework?

This new framework is an opportunity for schools to build routines, increase engagement, provide access to resources, and support learning, or R.E.A.L.

  • Build Routines: Daily attendance routines, created at home or in school, can reduce stress for students and families and create a sense of safety and security, especially after chaotic transitions.
  • Increase Engagement: Being in school helps students to get to know peers, teachers, and school staff and to create trusting relationships that motivate students to participate in learning.
  • Provide Access to Resources: Schools help students and families gain access to basic resources such as meals, physical and mental health services, and fun enrichment activities like sports, clubs, music, afterschool, and summer programs.
  • Support Learning: Learning is most meaningful when it is active, social, and allows students to apply concepts to real life situations. Showing up to school regularly helps students engage in learning that builds proficiency in reading and math that will help them to graduate from high school.

Getting Started

When adapting the framework, consider where people in your school community have the greatest challenges. Get to know families so you can decide which talking points make most sense. For example, if families are struggling with housing or basic needs, you might want to start with offering Access to resources rather than emphasizing routines.

Use the ideas in this framework in interactions with students or families, including during morning greetings, one-on-one conversations in the hallway, calls home, parent-teacher conferences, or comments delivered at school or community events. Keep the tone positive, respectful, and supportive, whether you are speaking face-to-face or in writing.

Learn more about Attendance Works’ R.E.A.L. Framework.