Why All Day, Every Day Matters During Attendance Awareness Month and Beyond
By Rachel Monárrez
Did you know that collegiate and professional football players may practice up to 210 minutes a day during summer training camp? NBA players spend about the same amount of time practicing on non-game days as during the season. Elite athletes, like those who are training for the Olympics, may train up to 300 minutes a day, depending on the sport. And, that’s just for a single sport, a sport they all knew how to play well before they were recruited for the team.
The average elementary school student spends 335 minutes learning per day during the school year. That’s divided among five or more subjects—English/language arts, math, history/social studies, science, and music and art. And, in many cases, students are being exposed to a new concept for the very first time.
When players miss practice too many times, they risk being benched or cut from the team altogether. After all, how can they possibly keep up with their teammates if they haven’t put in the time required to succeed?
So, if we expect our professional athletes to spend anywhere from 200 to 300 minutes per day learning and perfecting their skills in just one sport, how can we possibly expect our children to learn and perfect their skills in four or five subjects in fewer than 335 minutes per day, every day during the school year? And, yet, we as adults do exactly that when we fail to make sure our children are in school on time every day.
September is Attendance Awareness Month, and that makes it the perfect time to remind ourselves and our children why it is so important to be in school every day for the entire school day. It is said that practice makes perfect, and that is true in sports and in academics. Every moment a child is in school is a chance for them to reinforce the lessons they have already learned through practicing those skills and building on them to develop new skills.
And, what about learning a new idea or skill, as often happens in school? How long does that take? Well, every skill and every person is different, but as an example, to play intermediate-level songs on the guitar takes about one year of instruction and practice for about an hour a day four or five days a week. That is about 12,500 minutes during the course of a year. Now imagine what happens when a student misses a single 335- to 390-minute instructional day. That may be the day the teacher introduces the quadratic formula for the first time or how to sound out and read words with long vowel sounds. The student doesn’t just fall behind in the one skill, they fall behind in several different subjects, each one of which requires a passing grade to earn a diploma or to earn a spot at the college of their choice.
It’s clear that if we want our children to succeed in school, to learn and master the necessary skills to advance to college and a career, we need to make sure they have enough time to learn what they need. They need every minute of instruction and practice they can get—all day, every day.
Every minute of instruction matters.
September is Attendance Awareness Month. Help schools in San Bernardino, Highland, and around the nation bring attention to the importance of good attendance by sharing your stories of how being in class made a difference for you or your child using #alldayeveryday on social media.
Dr. Rachel Monárrez is the assistant superintendent of Student Services, San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD).