According to Myles L. Cooley, author of Teaching Kids with Mental Health & Learning Disorders in the Regular Classroom [MN: Free Spirit Publishing, 2007, pp. 70], "Between 1% and 5% of children and adolescents refuse to attend school at some point. Ultimately, about 10% of students over the age of 16 drop out of school permanently."
Many older students will attempt to skip school once or twice in response to peer pressure, but when this truant behavior is recurrent and unresponsive to normal discipline techniques, there could be serious underlying causes. Even young children may exhibit signs of school refusal. It is important to find out the reason or reasons behind the avoidance behavior and attempt to treat the student who is avoiding or skipping school.
Symptoms of School Avoidance
When a student has many absences in a row or over a period of time, a teacher should begin to suspect that the student is experiencing something unpleasant that is making it difficult to regularly attend school. But missing days may not be the only sign of problems.
Parents may report that their child doesn't want to get out of bed, is slow in getting ready in the morning, or experiences excessive crying and tantrums. Additionally, the student may arrive at school only to complain of various ailments (headache, stomach pain, etc.) that cause him to be dismissed early. During class, the child may ask several times to visit the restroom, or may be unable to satisfactorily participate in classroom work and discussions.
Possible Causes of School Refusal
Several reasons for a student to avoid or skip school are:
Separation anxiety (usually in children of preschool/kindergarten age)
Illness or serious grievance with a family member
Mood disorders such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Depression, or Bipolar Disorder
Alcohol or drug addiction
Other mental health and/or learning disorders that cause a child to have low self esteem
Teacher Tips for Encouraging Regular Student Attendance
One of the first steps in encouraging students to attend school is to make sure that the classroom environment is free from bullying behavior. Discourage teasing and insensitive comments in the classroom by promoting an understanding that all students add value and have unique qualities. Bullying often happens during unstructured activities, so be rubbish clearance london sure to keep a close eye on the kids at these times.
There are many other techniques that teachers can adopt in the classroom to make it a more positive learning experience for all students. Try these:
Be empathetic. Do not make light of any fear a child may have.
Vary the teaching style so that students with learning disorders or sensory processing issues will be able to effectively use their strengths.
For severe mental health issues, a teacher may want to lessen homework, break projects up into smaller steps, or loosen requirements on oral presentations.
Allow a student to shine by discovering and using his intense interests within some of the lesson plans.
Stay positive about a student's progress.
Praise the student often.
Pair a student who is shy or socially anxious with another student that is well adjusted and caring during group activities.
Keep in touch with the parents and any other professionals that may be working with the child.
When a teacher notices that one of her students is regularly skipping school, it is time to talk with parents and attempt to find out what could be causing the school refusal. Depending on the symptoms and home situation, lessons and even the classroom environment itself may need to be adjusted. Offering the reluctant student support and encouragement in the classroom will be vitally important in putting a stop to the pattern of avoidance.