What to Do If Your Child Has to Miss School

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No matter how hard you may try, at some point during the school year, your child will no doubt have to miss a day or two of school, either due to illness, a vacation, or some other event.

Missing school during the middle school years is a little more complicated than in elementary school. For starters, middle school teachers assume that preteens are capable of keeping up, and they may put the burden of catching up on homework assignments and projects on your child.

In other words, they won't necessarily make it a priority to catch your child up on his studies when he gets back. That means that your tween will have to take the lead.

Here are a few tips that will help should your child have to miss school, for whatever reason.

Plan Ahead

You can do a lot to minimize the number of days your child misses school if you're willing to plan ahead and consult the school calendar before your commit to vacations and trips.

Try to schedule annual physicals, dental appointments, or eye exams during the summer while your child is on summer break.

Likewise, try to schedule hair or orthodontic appointments in the afternoon, after school lets out for the day.

You can also minimize missed days of school by practicing healthy living, which means making sure your child gets a flu shot and reminding them to practice good hygiene at school, such as washing hands frequently, etc.

If your tween will being missing school because of a family commitment, like a wedding, funeral, or planned vacation, remind them to ask their teachers for class assignments ahead of time.

You might even want to write a note verifying that your family will be away for a few days. That way, your child can bring some work along on the trip and stay up-to-date on school studies.

Many school systems only allow students to miss a certain number of days a year. Missing more runs the risk of possibly being held back. Know your school system's policy regarding students and missed days.

Stay in Contact

At the beginning of the school year, be sure you collect the contact information for all of your child's teachers. Many teachers are very good about responding to parents' and students' email questions.

If your child has to miss school, he or she can stay in touch with his teachers electronically to keep up-to-date on assignments and reading homework.

Get a Note

Many schools require a doctor's note if a child misses more than three days of school due to illness. Be sure to ask for one if you take your child to his doctor during the course of his illness.

Stock Supplies

It's important that you maintain a stock of school supplies at home. They will come in handy for sick days and other times your child is out of school for a few days.

Get stocked up on supplies at the beginning of the school year when products are marked down for the back-to-school rush.

Ask for Help

Sometimes children need to miss school for an extended period, like if they have a serious illness or there is a family emergency. Kids might also need to be out of school for something unusual, like once-in-a-lifetime trips.

If your child will be out of school for more than a few days, it's important to call the school to let them know about your family situation and to ask for advice on keeping your child's studies as current as possible.

For example, a classmate who lives in your neighborhood might be able to bring your child assignments and return their completed homework or take-home tests.

When your child returns, they may need some after school help or tutoring to make up what they missed. Arranging for extra help will require working as a team with teachers, principals, and other staff, but will help your child get caught up.

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  1. Allison MA, Attisha E; Council on School Health. The link between school attendance and good healthPediatrics. 2019;143(2):e20183648. doi:10.1542/peds.2018-3648