The average number of hours for each day of public school is roughly plus/minus six hours, depending on which school your child attends and in which school district. Just as a hypothetical, pretend it’s six hours for this equation. Controlling for holidays and in-services, in a regular 30 day month, your child will spend at least 23 days of direct instruction. Yes, yes–I know that there is winter break, Thanksgiving, spring break, and all the holidays; but again, let’s just focus on what an average 30 day month might look like. If you multiply all the 23 days of instruction in a hypothetical 30 day month it equals out to, give or take, 138 hours/month. Approximate that number even further, 138 hours multiplied by an 8.5 month academic school year, we can “graciously” estimate that children receive 1,173 hours of instruction. As a total that number seems pretty large at first glance. But let’s work backwards to see what happens when a child misses as much as one day of attendance at school.
Remember, a child with perfect attendance receives 1,173 hours of direct instruction.
Now, let’s consider a child who misses just one day a month. In this case, the child who is absent one day a month, whether it be for sickness or for other reasons, s/he receives only 1,122 hours of direct instruction. A little simple calculation shows that by missing one day a month, a child has lost 51 hours of direct instruction–that’s more than a 40 hour work week! Let’s take this approximation a little further. . .
What about the child who misses two days of instruction a month? Long equation short, a child who is absent two days a month, receives only 1,017 hours of direct instruction, this is 102 hours of missed hands-on activities, direct instruction, and missed teachable moments. These 102 hours of missed instruction is just short of missing 10% of attendance (i.e. 117 hours). This is huge!
To put this into perspective if your child averages 1 to 2 missed school days a month, your child is at risk for not keeping up with his/her classmates in learning new concepts, engaging in academic readiness, and opportunities for building pro social skills.
This concept is also applicable to young children attending preschool. Although the times/lengths of preschool programs vary, one can still estimate a calculation of missed hands on instruction. Preschool offers key opportunities for children to practice soft skills like turn-taking, negotiation, problem solving, and impulse control. Every time a child is absent from preschool, there is one less opportunity to practice pro social skills that are much needed once a child begins kindergarten.
These calculations aren’t meant to cause a sense of panic if your child must miss school, especially if it’s due to illness. Please, by all means, keep your child home if your child is sick. However, these numbers are meant to show how important it is to regularly attend school (or preschool) if children are well and ready to learn.
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