Absent Students: How Teachers Can Keep Track of Make-Up Work in 2024

It’s hard enough to keep track of student work when all your students are in class, never mind when you have a student who is absent. Unfortunately, students being absent is an unavoidable occurrence.  Regardless of if the absence lasts a single afternoon for a dentist appointment or an entire week for a family vacation, you’ll want to have a plan in place so you are not wasting time scrambling around to put together work for them to take home. I suggest developing a policy for make-up work as well as a procedure for handling it. Read below are some tips and ideas about how to manage make-up work for absent students in your classroom.

3 Tips for Managing Make-Up Work for Absent Students

Below are 3 tips for managing make-up work for absent students.

1. Check your school’s policy.

Begin by seeing if your school or district has a policy on absenteeism and missed work. If so, you’ll need to adhere to that. If there is not already a policy in place, then you’ll need to determine what will work best for you and your classroom.

2. Share your policy with your students and their families at the beginning of the year.

We all know that what we do in the classroom can’t be replicated in a packet of worksheets, but parents don’t always understand that. If you don’t share your policy proactively, you’ll run the risk of a parent sending in a note that reads, “We’ll be going out of town tomorrow. He’ll be out of school all next week. Can you please send home all his work so he doesn’t fall behind?”

3. Create a procedure for collecting work when a student is absent.

I have a literature sorter in my classroom that I use for unfinished work. I also use this to collect assignments when students are out. When a student is absent, I place an absent student folder in their box and as work gets passed out throughout the day, a student puts a copy on top of the folder. At the end of the day I staple them all together with a “While You Were Out Note” and slip them into the folder. You can find this note in my managing absent students assignments resource. You could also leave a folder on the student’s desk or in his mailbox. When a folder is prepared for a student, I record the date onto a tracking sheet. When it is returned completed I highlight the date.

What to do When you Know a Student is Going to be Absent

I find it challenging to send work home ahead of time. A lot of what we do in class is based on lessons and activities and not just a self-explainable printable. Also, plans change depending on how quickly students are grasping concepts. Here’s what I recommend doing when you know a child in your class will be absent:

  • Look at your plans and give the parents a quick summary of the skills, topics and big ideas that will be covered during the absence. It is easy to find resources and interactive games online and the hope is that the parents’ will take the initiative to do so.
  • You may want to consider having some “go to” ideas on hand in advance. You can encourage students to read, practice math facts, etc.
  • Send home anything that is already prepared and can be completed independently. I try to keep at least a week’s worth of copies ready and sorted by day in my classroom. If there is anything in there that can be sent home I will attach it to my note.

Related Resources

Below are 2 classroom management resources.

1. Managing Absent Student Assignments Packet

I have created a packet to help organize and manage student make-up work in the classroom. It includes notes to send home when you know in advance that a student will be absent, materials to make “While You Were Out Folders” and tracking sheets to keep records on assignment completion. Learn more about this managing absent student assignments resource!

managing absent student assignmentsTeachers can improve classroom management by creating a system for managing student assignments. This article explains how to create an easy plan to log and track student assignments so elementary school students always know what is expected.
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2. Classroom Management Bundle

Managing assignments when you have students who are absent is just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of things you need systems for as a teacher. This classroom management resource makes it a lot easier for you to stay on top of things!

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