How to Recover from a Long Absence

How to Recover from a Long Absence

In 10th grade, I spent a very painful night sleeping on my aunt’s recliner. I had broken the smaller bone in my lower leg the night before, but we didn’t know it. Long story short – I was out of school for over a week and lost more classes to doctor’s appointments over the next few months. There was so much work to make up from that long absence!

But I was lucky – I was only out for a week. What about students who have an extended absence?? 

Long absences can have long-term impacts on your grades and understanding.Click To Tweet

And the consequences can be big. Being absent more than 2 days a month is a larger cause of high school failure than test scores or grades. And all that content and skills you missed build on each other, which makes it even harder to follow the current lesson. So, those missed days (and all the accompanying work) matter.

Getting back on track can be hard. There are tons of assignments, big and small, to makeup and you often have to do that on top of the current workload in the class. But the sooner you start working, the sooner you will be caught up!

How to Bounce Back From an Extended Absence

long absence

Make a list of ALL the things you missed during your long absence

This can be daunting in itself. But you can’t tackle the assignments until you know what they are. Go class by class and list everything that you missed – class notes, readings, homework, labs, quizzes, tests, etc.

Talk to your teachers

This is super important. Meet with your teachers ASAP. Send them an e-mail or drop by to make a plan to get caught up. Believe me, your teacher has an incentive to get you caught up. It’s a lot of work for teachers when students have been gone for along time.

Your teacher wants you to get back on track just as badly as you do.Click To Tweet

When I taught, if a student was out for an extended period of time (think 2+ weeks), I started to excuse them from smaller assignments. They still had to complete the major assignments, but I let the small ones go. While not every teacher will do this, it’s not uncommon.

Some questions to ask when you meet:

  • Here is the list I created of everything I missed during my absence. Am I missing anything?
  • Which assignments do you want me to focus on first? When do you need me to complete each?
  • Are there any quizzes or tests coming up soon on the material I missed? 
  • Are there any assignments I can be excused from? (If the answer is no, accept it gracefully.)
  • If I need help, when is a good day and time to see you?
  • Here are my other current limitations: doctor’s appointments, mobility issues, medications that interfere with learning, etc.

Create a plan

Now it’s time to tackle all those assignments, starting with the ones your teachers were most concerned about and/ or gave you a due date for. Or you can use this model for prioritizing your work.

If you still feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work, focus on the classes with the lowest grades. Completing those assignments will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

If you don’t have a planner, get one. (This is my favorite, but these pages will do in an emergency.) Schedule all your regular stuff on it – classes, work, after-school commitments, etc. Then look for open time slots and start putting that time aside for make-up work. And get REAL specific

  • Tuesday 5:30-60:00 Study for makeup Chem test
  • Wednesday 4-5 Finish Othello essay
  • Thursday 3:30 Take Chem test

Ask for Help!

If you get overwhelmed, please ask for help. Talk to whoever will listen – your school counselor, teachers, parents, friends. I’ve seen too many students get frazzled by the amount of work and just give up. Their grades suffered for it, both in the short and long terms.

As a tutor, I have worked with multiple students who were out of school for an extended absence. I talked to students, teachers, and families, creating plans to help my students get back on track.

Luckily, I worked with my teachers in high school to get back on track after my injury. With the help of your teachers, you can recover from your long absence, too!

Did you have an extended absence? How did you bounce back academically?


Related Posts: How to Improve Your Grades in 4 Weeks, How to Actually Use Your Academic Planner

How to Recover from a Long Absence


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