Summer Learning – Attendance Best Practices

With summer programs about to begin, it is important to ensure that students attend regularly.  Attendance is crucial for student success.  In fact, consistent attendance in summer programs helps reduce summer slide and can even contribute to increased academic performance.

But how can summer learning sites ensure that students show up on day one and return throughout the summer?  There is no substitute for early planning and offering an engaging program that students will want to come back to each day.  Below are five practical, research-based tips encouraging high student attendance and retention in summer programs.


It is important to ensure that each student has a friend by the end of the first day of programming.  Staff can help connect students who are keeping to themselves.





Calls should be made each day to families whose students are absent.  Calls reinforce the importance of daily attendance and can reveal issues families are having with transportation or other parts of the program.




Welcome young people personally each day.




Acknowledge students’ attendance and the importance of daily attendance during opening activities.




Incentivize attendance with reward and awards.  Some programs provide tickets to movie theaters or field trips for students who achieve perfect attendance.



For more information on the research supporting strong attendance, see Making Summer Count.  To learn how Boston and other cities are focusing on attendance as part of a national research study on summer learning, see Getting to Work on Summer Learning.

If your program uses other practices, please let us know by leaving a comment.