TAMPA (FOX 13) - Nothing has a bigger impact on a student's learning than skipping school, but Hillsborough's Palm River Elementary has a new strategy to battle this truancy.
Administrators at Palm River explored the ideas of encouraging students through their tummies.
"It's important for us to reward and recognize and celebrate when these kids are here and we want them to get excited about learning," explained Leah Sinclair, a social worker at Palm River Elementary. "Last month, we had 200 kids that had perfect attendance out of a little over 500 students."
She and others at the school decided a great way for children with good attendance to start the day would be with free breakfast.
The breakfast celebration also highlights parents' responsibility to get their kids to school on time.
Grandmother Gale Perry went to the breakfast celebration event and said, "we know that kids are our future and we want to make sure that we are acknowledging them, so that it will encourage them to do better."
The program started last year to help stop truancy and showcase the importance of education.
"Statistics say, for every one day a child misses it takes three days to make up," Sinclair explained.
A free breakfast may seem small, but the students love it. They said it gives them a chance to feel recognized for their achievement.
"I go to bed early, I do my homework and I follow the directions of my teacher," student Chamariah Crecy said.
For parents, it sets a positive course and rewards a job well done.
"Ultimately, these students are successful in their education," Sinclair said. "Then they are successful in their lives, so that they can be productive citizens in the community."
Local businesses fund the breakfast. The school said they are always looking for locally-provided gifts for use in the perfect attendance program.
For more information, visit palmriver.mysdhc.org