As the school year goes on and the weather gets colder, students spend more and more time indoors. While there are some great things about the fall and wintertime, one thing that’s a lot less fun is cold and flu season. While most of the diseases that get passed around schools are pretty minor, getting sick can set students behind on their schoolwork and also spread to classmates and family members. As the familiar adage goes, showing up is half the battle. Unfortunately, we can’t always avoid absences from school, so we need to have a plan to stay on track.
Absences happen to the best of students. People get sick, must travel with their family, or have important events that they must attend. Missing school is something that must be avoided, but when it inevitably happens, it is important that students make sure they do everything they can to recover well. Being absent from school for one or two days in a row has the ability to cause a major change in a student’s grades, and a whole semester’s worth of work can be put in jeopardy if students are not careful. In a single day, students can miss a math test, chemistry lab, and an important lesson that is foundational to the success in a given class. Because of these high stakes, learning how to deal with and recover from school absences is an important life skill that can save students from a lot of stress down the road.
As Ben Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” The best defense against falling behind in school because of absences is to go on the offensive. If possible, students should plan to talk to teachers a few days before they miss school. This is a great time to practice advocating for one’s self and building rapport with his or her teachers. By emailing teacher in advance, students can set up an appointment to ask what they should do to stay on track in class while are absent. Alternatively, students can build a network of peers to help in the event that they will be absent. Social capital is powerful. By helping friends when they are absent, students can create a safety net for when absences occur. Students should find at least one reliable friend in each class so that when they need to reach out to get a copy of the day’s notes because they missed class, they aren’t scrambling to find someone to help.
Make a Plan
To leave an even better impression on your teacher, students should come with a plan. Preparation shows maturity and commitment to success. For example, if a student is going to miss a quiz while absent, he or she should be prepared with two or three potential make-up times when meeting with a teacher to determine alternate arrangements; students should also make a plan to get the notes from a friend. Teachers will be impressed when students are committed to class and grades will benefit. The easiest way for students to avoid late work and stay on track with grades is to be proactive and make a plan when they miss school.
When students start doing make up work, they will probably have questions because they were not in class to learn the material. Even when the student got the notes from a friend, there may still be questions about how to complete an assignment. Students are not expected to suffer in silence. Not asking for help when help is needed is just another way that students procrastinate when getting work done. If it is an appropriate time, students can email their teacher. Otherwise, students can ask a friend or a tutor for help.
Turn It In
Once students have finished make-up work, they must make sure that they turn the work in! When a student is absent, it is not the teacher’s responsibility to hunt them down for make-up work. Because students won’t have a reminder in class to turn their work in, they need to set reminders themselves or have a system in place to make sure that you turn work in. Students can set reminders on their phones, turn in homework first thing when they get to school, or write it down somewhere they know they will see it. Assignments that never get turned in usually get buried in a backpack or folder somewhere. If a student has done all the work, they should make sure it gets it in their teacher’s hands for grading.
After students have done the work and turned it in, they should make sure they get credit. This may be shocking to some students, but teachers are human beings too and they make mistakes. Sometimes even if a student turns work in the day that they return from an absence, teachers will forget to change it in the gradebook. Students should check grades a week after submitting make-up work to make sure that all credit is recorded. If the grade is not updated after a week, students should send a polite email to your teacher to remedy the situation. It is important that students advocate for themselves, but always be respectful.
At Staying Ahead of the Game, we firmly believe that habits and systems driven by executive functioning skill research can help any student thrive in the modern day classroom. As the new semester gets tougher with inevitable February absences, remind your child that organization, time management, study skills, and impression management form the foundation for every stellar school year.
Beyond the core four EF skills listed above, there is one more way you can help your student succeed this semester: academic coaching. Our flagship academic coaching program provides students with a one-on-one EF mentor who can provide accountability and guidance throughout the academic year. To learn more about this service, please view our free resources or reach out to us today.