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[March 29, 2007]  Q: Our daughter is a sophomore in high school. We got a call from school saying that she has been cutting classes. We tried to talk with her about it, but she just shrugs and says that everyone does it. How do we handle this?

A: It's as simple as this: Students can't learn if they're not in school. Your daughter stayed up too late and now she wants to sleep in. She has a big soccer game and wants to rest. She has an important math test and she hasn't finished studying. Or it's the end of the school year and the teachers don't care.

All these are excuses many teens give for missing school. Some parents even cooperate when their teens don't want to go to school. Don't do it.

When your daughter cuts class she may be able to copy missed notes and complete missed worksheets. However, other important aspects of the lessons are lost forever. She'll miss out on discussions, questions raised, explanations and much more. This is an important time in her life. Learning builds day by day. What your daughter misses in one class session is needed as a foundation for what she will learn in the next session.

You play a big role in supporting her good school attendance. Here are important points to remember:

  • Tell your daughter that school is her most important job at this time in her life and that you expect her to be there every day.

  • Don't accept excuses for why she "must" miss or be late for school.

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  • Discuss what happened at school each day.

  • Make sure the school knows how to reach you if your daughter is absent.

  • Support school rules and consequences for skipping class and being tardy.

  • Set a good example. Go to work every day yourself.

  • Avoid scheduling family trips or medical appointments during school hours.

Research shows that attendance is the single most important factor in school success. Attendance is a habit. Teens who get in the habit of coming to school every day will also show up for work on time. Teens who think they can come and go as they please may never be successful in a job. So make sure your daughter keeps going to school. It's an important lesson in responsibility she needs to learn.

For more information about helping children learn, go to To submit your own question, use the form at
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Copyright 2006, The Parent Institute

[Text from syndicated column received from The Parent Institute]

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