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Why Won't My Child Go To School?

Updated on March 7, 2013

A common problem.

Even though the government have bought in various schemes and incentives to encourage better attendance by pupils in schools, rates of truancy have continued to increase. The most severe consequence of a student skipping school falls firmly at the feet of the parents, where in the UK the principle adult responsible for the minor, can be issued a fine and even face time in prison if their child is frequently absent from the classroom. This however has not seemed to have made much of an impact on any improvement in the number of little learners being recorded as consistently present within the education system, regardless of the seriousness of the potential repercussions. A good education is one of the most important contributing factors in the ability to achieve success later on in life, we are also very fortunate to have it freely and widely available to us, and yet the official statistics show that numbers are still dwindling.

We all want the best for our children and it can be frustrating when they disobey us and refuse to go to school, especially when we know that it is for their own benefit. But ask any parent what the most upsetting part of this scenario is and they will tell you that they are worried that their child is unhappy, and only wish that they knew why it was happening so that they can at least try to tackle it. Unfortunately teenagers are not always keen to talk, and sometimes you are not even aware that it has been happening until you have been informed after it has been going on for sometime. Whatever the case may be a few of the most common reasons why children don't go to school have been established, and I am going to share them with you in this hub so that you can hopefully identify one that applies to you and go about fixing the problem.


They maybe having issues with a teacher.

The relationships students have with their teachers are as significant and influential as the ones that they have with their peers. If they feel that they are treated well by a teacher they are more likely to want to attend a class. Just as tension and bullying can erupt between the pupils, similar problems can arise between children and their teachers.

Your child may feel like they are being picked on unnecessarily or in the worst cases may even be being bullied by a member of staff. Signs that this could be their reason for wanting to avoid going to school will include, common instances of them mentioning the teacher in a way that puts them in a bad light, or if they have ever been on the receiving end of discipline dished out by the aforementioned teacher especially if this has happened frequently.

Another thing to be weary of is if it does not seem to be the kind of action taken in regards to your child by other teachers and if only one particular teacher seems to have a particularly negative attitude towards them, it maybe worth asking yourself why only them and not other members of staff. It could be that your teenager has been unfairly singled out.

They maybe struggling academically.

The classroom environment can also be the cause of potential problems in eduction, and the opinions of peers matter too. If an individual feels that they are not coping well with the workload or if the tasks being given are becoming too difficult for them, the incentive to want to go to school drops significantly.

They do not want to draw undesirable attention to themselves by putting their hand up in class and publicly announcing in front of everyone that they don't understand. Knowing that this could lead to taunts later on and the stigma of their peers thinking that they are stupid. Similarly seeing the teacher in their spare time may also do damage to their credibility and admitting that they 'just don't get it' to parents, is also an unenviable notion, so they often don't tell anyone.

They then try to cope or get by on pretending that they know what to do and just don't do it, then inevitably someone will want to see evidence of the work that they are supposed to be doing but not knowing that they are unable to do it, the pupil then panics and stops going to school. Often to avoid having to face the problem and confess that they feel like they are failing.

If you have not seen any of your child's work in a particular subject for a while, or they frequently mention something that they are studying as rubbish, these maybe signs that they are finding the subject hard.

They maybe under the influence of substances.

Children like to experiment as they get older, especially as teenagers. Some of these experimental phases are harmless like dying their hair, dressing differently or listening to new music. Most phases are just part of current crazes and pass almost as quickly as they arrive.

In most cases this is a healthy part of growing up it is very normal and should be of no concern, however sometimes this sense of wanting to experiment can lead to them dabbling in substances. Illegal drugs, legal highs, solvents, magic mushrooms and alcohol can sometimes fall into the hands of children or teenagers, and what begins as seemingly just a bit of fun to try, can soon turn into a habit.

The effects of these kinds of chemicals on the body, can lead an individual to acting in very abnormal ways and developing unpredictable patterns of behavior. Feelings of lethargy, paranoia and other symptoms of substance abuse maybe playing a part in preventing them from going to school.

If there have been sudden and obvious changes to the way your child behaves or acts, you may well need to pursue inquiry on this issue.

They may have a medical problem.

Sometimes the mind and body can develop conditions and illnesses that can quite simply dominate an entire persons life. A once healthy and outgoing individual can become reclusive and exhausted. During and even for sometime after illness has occurred, confidence can be quite drastically hindered, and a child that was once quite happy to attend school, can suddenly feel overwhelmed or even a bit scared at the prospect.

Agoraphobia and depression can also strike teenagers, triggers can often be minor and hard to identify but that does not make the symptoms any less real for the sufferers. A psychiatric disorder can be difficult to spot, however if you do have any concerns about your child's mental state, a meeting with a school counselor or your family doctor can help you discover what problems if any have arisen, and they can help advise you on treatment that can be of help.

They maybe having issues with their peers.

It can be difficult for a person to navigate their way through modern life, and it is no easier for teenagers. The media, society and the Internet bombard us with images and information about the way we as people are suppose to be. Many an influence surrounds the teenager, they are told what they should and shouldn't be doing, how they should be acting, how they should be dressing, what they should be listening to and what they should be watching. All this and more, is confusing and the pressures of trying to fit in can become too much to handle.

If they are getting verbal or physical abuse from their peers, then avoiding them by staying at home can seem like the best option. In this instance you may have to get the school involved or ask your child what you can do for them to help make things easier for them at school. You may also need to confront the parents of particular students in an attempt to rectify this issue.

They maybe having concerns about their sexuality or body image.

During the teenage years the body experiences many changes, they begin to experience unfamiliar feelings and the person that looks back at them in the mirror everyday is not quite the same as the person they are used to. They begin to wonder if whats happening is normal and they start to compare themselves to others. They may feel inadequate because they don't think that they measure up to the ideals of society. They maybe concerned about their weight, or their skin or even the development of their private areas.

Eating disorders are common among girls at this time in their lives and even the boys can find fault with themselves. A sense of feeling ashamed of the way they look can make them unable to face their peers at school and again may lead to them refusing to go. Fortunately concerns like this can be combated by an open an honest talk with your child or again a meeting with a school counselor.

They may feel like they need to stay at home.

Family life is not always idyllic and if mum and dad are having relationship problems, chances are the children will pick up on this. There may also be cases where parents are facing a particularly trying time and the child does not wish to leave them at home on their own. They may also be worried about what they may discover on the return home, so they believe that they are of more use at home helping out, then at school worrying.

This may need some reassurance from you that you are coping and that the family unit will be fine, if there are problems or a separation is on the cards, be honest but let them know that it is more beneficial for them to be at school, and that everything will be alright in the end.

Because they can.

This reason is the hardest to have to deal with as it's difficult to sympathize with. This can be hard to hear, but some children will just not go to school because they can get away with not having to go. In this instance tough love is absolutely essential, unfortunately punishments and discipline are the only thing that is going to make them go to school.

It will not be easy and a part of you at times will just want to give up and let them just do as they please because its simpler, but it will do you well in the long run not to give in. And if they feel that they can get away with this, they will start pushing you in other areas as well.

It is always a disappointment for parents to find out that their child has not been attending school, however if you can identify the reasons behind why, you can rectify the problem and hopefully return your child back into the classroom.


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    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 5 years ago from U.K.

      Thank-you daydreamer13, home school is a great suggestion. :)

    • daydreamer13 profile image

      daydreamer13 5 years ago

      This is a good hub. I found home school to be an answer. Voted useful!