Classroom Full of Students

Strong Health & Wellness Programs Can Reduce Student Absenteeism

Nov. 27, 2023 • by Studies Weekly

Student absenteeism remains a persistent challenge in education, and unfortunately in some areas of the country, absenteeism has increased in recent years. According to the U.S. Department of Education, chronic absenteeism, defined as missing 10% or more of the school year, affects nearly 8 million students in the United States alone. The consequences are far-reaching, affecting academic performance and student well-being. 

Emotional resilience is a key factor in reducing absenteeism. Schools that implement comprehensive emotional learning and well-being programs saw a 10% reduction in absenteeism rates within a single academic year, according to a 2019 Journal of Educational Psychology study.

“Comprehensive social emotional learning programs have the potential to transform educational outcomes by addressing the underlying socio-emotional factors contributing to absenteeism,” said Linda Darling-Hammond in a 2017 article for the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.

Here’s how these students wellness programs can help:

Fostering Positive Relationships

Wellness programs promote positive relationships within the school environment, which help children feel supported and strengthened at school. Research by the National Center for Education Statistics reported that students with strong connections to their teachers and peers were 25% less likely to be chronically absent. When children enjoy school, they want to come to school.

A small group of three school aged children huddle together on an area rug in their classroom as they pose for a portrait. They are each dressed casually and rainbow blocks can be seen stacked in front of them.

Instilling Conflict Resolution and Coping Skills

“SEL [social emotional learning] programs are valuable tools in teaching students how to handle conflicts constructively and cope with stress,” according to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

When students have the skills to manage conflict, they feel safer both at home and at school. School is not a scary space. In addition, CASEL data shows that schools with robust emotional wellness programs had a 15% decrease in suspensions, an issue often associated with absenteeism.

Stress Management

Often when students can’t manage their own stress levels, they don’t cope at school well. School can become an anxiety-inducing situation. But stress-related absenteeism can be mitigated through comprehensive health and wellness programs. A 2018 Mindful Schools study reported a 20% reduction in stress-related absences among students who participated in mindfulness-based SEL interventions. As students learn coping skills and stress management through these programs, they feel safer and stronger at school and in life. 

Cultivating a Sense of Purpose

Students are often struggling to find their place in their school, their community, and the world – and this can lead to feelings of insecurity and worry. But wellness programs “help students discover their sense of purpose, leading to increased motivation and commitment to their education,” writer and researcher William Damon said.

As students discover a sense of purpose, they are less likely to be absent. Damon’s research with Stanford University showed that students who found meaning in their education were 30% more likely to attend school regularly.

Students standing together in classroom

Wellness is a Community Effort

Educators are not teaching children on their own, though. Parents and the community must be involved if a school or district is to truly succeed. Wellness programs that involve parents and the community in the educational process improve student outcomes. In fact, the National Association of School Psychologists found that schools engaging these stakeholders experienced a 15% reduction in absenteeism.

Years of research and data show that SEL and wellness programs can improve student behavior, academic performance, and even curb absenteeism. Studies Weekly’s Health & Wellness curriculum for PreK-6 is a comprehensive program that is built on this research, and empowers students and teachers. 

Based on the National Health Education Standards; Emotional, Psychological, and Pedagogical frameworks; and the CASEL framework; each Studies Weekly unit helps students develop physical, mental, social, academic, and emotional health and wellness skills. The curriculum also includes a parental component in every unit, so students are supported both at school and home.

See how Studies Weekly Health & Wellness can give you the results you need with student absenteeism and other student behaviors at



CASEL. (2020). “Transformative SEL: Impacts on School Climate, Classroom Practice, and Student Learning.” Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.

Damon, William. (2016). “The Path to Purpose: Helping Our Children Find Their Calling in Life.” Free Press.

Darling-Hammond, Linda. (2017). “Next Generation Assessments and Accountability: A Vision and Framework for Public Education.” Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.

Jones, M., et al. (2019). “The Impact of Social and Emotional Learning on Chronic Absenteeism: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Fast Track Curriculum.” Journal of Educational Psychology, 111(3), 502-517.

Mindful Schools. (2018). “Mindfulness and Stress Reduction in Education: An Integrative Review.” Mindful Schools Research Institute.

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). (2019). “Family-School Collaboration and Student Success: A Critical Link in Supporting Student Learning.” NASP Communique, 47(6), 20-24.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). “The Condition of Education 2018.” U.S. Department of Education.

U.S. Department of Education. (2020). “Chronic Absenteeism in the Nation’s Schools.” Office for Civil Rights Data Collection.