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Positive Parenting

Positive Parenting: Preschool attendance

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A new study suggests that children who miss preschool on a regular basis might make fewer academic gains than their classmates. 

And it might not take too many days away from the classroom for absenteeism to make an impact. 

If you think preschool is just fun and games for three and four year olds, think again. Woven into the stories and songs are the basics of language and math.

So what happens when a preschool student misses class on a regular basis? Arya Ansari is an expert in early childhood education. He and his colleagues examined data from 2,800 students from low-income households enrolled in head start programs.

“What we found was that children missed an average of roughly eight days over the course of a school year and approximately 12 percent of the children were chronically absent," he said. 

Chronically absent students missed at least 10 percent of the school year or an average of 22 days. 

“To put it in practical terms these children who missed ten percent or more of the year, their lost opportunities amounted to two or three months," Ansari said. 

At the end of the school year, parents reported total absences, and performance was assessed in language, literacy and math. Chronically absent students made fewer gains. 

“What these findings suggest is that missing school, even at ages three and four, does matter. A day here or there does add up," Ansari said.

In addition to ensuring a child attends preschool, developmental experts say parental engagement at home, reading books and playing games with a child can help build the foundation they are missing when they are not at school. 

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