Attendance Awareness MonthSeptember 6, 2013 Mobius
As the school year begins, teachers are taking attendance and there are children who aren’t present. Chronic absenteeism is a widespread issue, but one that we can work together to address. September is Attendance Awareness Month and community and education youth development organizations throughout the nation are working to raise awareness and promote ways to reduce absenteeism in schools.
Simply put, children can’t learn and benefit from school if they are not present. As noted in research compiled for the Attendance Awareness Campaign, children who are chronically absent in early grades often continue to have low attendance later on in school, are more likely to not graduate on time, and have lower academic outcomes than their peers with better attendance. By ensuring students go to school, we can work towards closing the achievement gap and help youth perform better in school and eventually in the workplace.
There are many different ways communities are working to combat this problem, but one proven method is mentoring. National research shows that mentored youth are 52% less likely to skip school. Mentoring promotes positive relationships with peers and adults and builds self-esteem. Mentors act as friends and positive role models for young people who need additional support in their lives. They encourage kids to explore their skills and interests, and help emphasize the importance of academics. On a very basic level, mentoring provides a child with something to look forward to in his or her week. For a student who is struggling to fit in at school, that time with a mentor might very well be the reason he or she came to school that day.
In the past five years, more than 50 school-based mentoring programs have been established in Vermont with support from The Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children, The A.D. Henderson Foundation, the State of Vermont, school districts, and existing mentoring programs. Mobius, Vermont’s Mentoring Partnership, is working with these partners to establish new school-based mentoring programs in underserved areas of the state and to build an infrastructure that allows mentored kids to transition from school-based mentoring programs into community-based programs as they get older, in order to ensure they receive the support they need all the way through successfully graduating from high school.
Mentoring has many benefits and helping to combat chronic absenteeism is just one of them. If you are interested in making a lasting difference in the life of a young person and being that person that he or she looks forward to seeing at school each week, please consider becoming a mentor. With just one hour a week and by just being a caring, consistent presence in a young person’s life you can make a world of difference. To learn more, and to find a mentoring program near you, we encourage you to visit our statewide directory of mentoring programs.