Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

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How to Stop Truancy: 60 Tips for Parents

Truancy is a problem for every country with compulsory schooling, especially for kids between 12 and the age of leaving school. Views differ on the best way to deal with truancy. Some say truants need encouragement and special support, others that they should be punished to force them into the classroom. Some argue that many kids need more practical (vocational) lessons and work experience to get them ready for jobs, and that this would reduce truanting. But very often the moms and dads are blamed for not making the kids go to school.

Dealing with truancy is not fun for the parent, teacher or school administrator, but it is a necessary part of modern education. Unchecked truancy often results in legal problems for the child, but it can also affect parents as well. Avoid these unnecessary and unpleasant situations by (a) getting to know the issue, (b) getting to know your youngster, and (c) getting to know your youngster’s school in order to more effectively fight truancy.

Here are 60 ways to get your child to attend school on a regular basis:

1. Take an active interest in your kid’s schoolwork. Ask them to demonstrate what they learned in school. Know the kids your youngster associates with.

2. Ask your youngster her thoughts on truancy.

3. Volunteer to be a mentor and help kids address needs not currently supported in school such as music, athletics, the arts, or even poetry.

4. Look for early signs of a youngster’s decision that school is not worthwhile. Monitor changes in friendships, teachers, or classrooms or even the loss of a pet or family member. All of these things contribute to reasons why kids dread going to school.

5. Prepare your youngster for school with required supplies and clothes. If you need assistance, contact your local social services agency.

6. Regularly contact the school office to make sure your youngster is attending school. Check in with his or her teachers on a regular basis. Make random visits to your youngster’s classroom to observe.

7. Encourage your youngster to take an active role in the school by joining clubs or participating in sports. Teach them when and how to ask for help.

8. Ask your youngster how you can help. Think about what situations he or she might face and talk about ways to handle these situations before they occur.

9. Consider counseling in you, the parent, cannot resolve the issue on your own.

10. Contact the administrator of the school, or the school district administrator responsible for attendance or truancy. Learn the school district’s supervisory chain of command, and try to resolve the problem at the level closest to the student involved.

11. Contact the local juvenile court that manages the truancy petition process. Determine how your youngster’s situation fits the attendance and truancy policies and procedures.

12. Coordinate with the school. Parents can't do it alone. Whether it's arranging to have someone meet the parent on the playground to escort the youngster into school, or trying to ease the amount of makeup work, it's crucial that the school plays a role in integrating the youngster into the classroom.

13. Create a contract, set some boundaries, and make it more worth his while to go to school.

14. Seek other parents or older kids who are willing to help you and your youngster with homework. Make your home the homework center or develop a telephone tree to make help available to all neighborhood kids and their parents.

15. Discuss with your youngster the reasons she has been truant.

16. Don’t arrange homebound teaching.

17. Don’t ask for a change of teacher or classes.

18. Don’t excuse your youngster from school.

19. Don’t focus on your youngster’s anxiety.

20. Don’t give mixed messages by giving in sometimes.

21. Don’t suddenly change expectations as new demands will precipitate anxiety.

22. Don’t tell your youngster that he/she does not have to participate in school activities or does not have to attend school at all.

23. Drop your youngster at school in the morning and watching him enter the building.

24. Understand what your youngster is expected to learn at each grade level. Contact your state department of education, school district, or school for a copy of the standards and school attendance policies. Find out what goals your youngster’s teacher has for the year and how your youngster will be graded.

25. Encourage your youngster to develop outside interests.

26. Establish a carpool.

27. Get support for yourself.

28. Give the consistent message, “You will go to school.”

29. Have consistent expectations. Relaxing the rules for even one assignment or day can give a mixed message. Make sure that all your kids live up to the same standards.

30. Investigate what's going on at school. If it's an issue of bullying, parents need to find out what's really going on. Once parents know whether the youngster's complaint is a valid one, it's easier to work with the youngster around the issue, both in and outside of school.

31. Look for alternatives. If your youngster tells you he or she is bored at school, pursue support outside the school such as music lessons, sports clubs, neighborhood or church-related youth groups, or mentors. Seek out and enroll your youngster in a tutoring program, if necessary.

32. Maintain your routine. Stick to a regular schedule for homework, bedtime, and waking up.

33. Make it less fun to be at home. If your youngster knows he can sit at home and play video games during the school day, the incentive to stay home is greater than the incentive to be at school.

34. Make school relevant. Push for activities where students can take part in their own learning by developing projects to address community needs.

35. Look for negative behavior changes such as alcohol use or staying out late. Seek a counselor if your youngster’s behavior becomes, distant, withdrawn, anxious, depressed, delinquent or aggressive.

36. Obtain a copy of the district's policies and procedures regarding attendance and truancy. Attendance and truancy information is often contained in the student conduct section of a district’s policy manual, and is likely to be found in the Student Handbook issued by many schools. Some school districts place their policies on their Web sites.

37. Outline the punishments you will enforce if he engages in truancy.

38. Parents should identify the issue, make a plan, and stick to their guns. Once the youngster has overcome his fear of school, he'll probably thank you.

39. Sign up and attend parenting education programs. This is a great place to learn new techniques and to share what you have learned.

40. Plan visits to the doctor or dentist after the school day ends. If you must take an appointment during the school day, allow the youngster to miss only time needed for that appointment.

41. Always talk with the school before you plan your holiday or vacation.

42. Reward good attendance. However, keeping your youngster out of school for his or her birthday is not acceptable.

43. When your child skips a class, react immediately by insisting that your youngster attend school.

44. Read a story about how a boy or girl overcomes or copes with a fear related to school attendance.

45. Reassure the youngster that she can handle it.

46. Request meetings with teachers, if needed.

47. Rule out any medical conditions.

48. Set a time for your youngster to go to bed, wake up, have a healthy breakfast, arrive at school, and complete his/her homework. Monitor things in your home such as family routines that may prevent you or your youngster from keeping to the schedule.

49. Speak to other parents and guardians who have experienced the same issues and problems. This can be a great way to get valuable advice and information.

50. Insist that all community agencies—social workers, school counselors, or juvenile officers—work together to develop a coordinated plan of support for your youngster.

51. Seek outside assistance if necessary.

52. Set a baseline expectation. Having a youngster in school for any amount of time is better than having him at home. Though a youngster may only come to school for only an hour, or sit in the lobby all day, it's a lot easier to get them back into the regular classroom from that point.

53. Talk to your kids about the role education plays in future/ life success. Let them know that you do not approve of them missing school. Refuse to write an excuse for unacceptable reasons. Review acceptable and unacceptable behavior with your youngster.

54. Talk to neighbors about your youngster’s behaviors and activities. Set up a neighborhood watch or patrol to ensure that all kids go to school every day. Exchange numbers in case you need to reach a parent quickly.

55. Know the school’s attendance policy, the time school starts, the difference between an excused and unexcused absence, and share the information with your youngster.

56. Be sure that your youngster knows if he or she skips school, there will be consequences to pay such as losing television or video game time, limiting time with friends, or the loss of other privileges.

57. Talk with your youngster about acceptable and unacceptable behavior and grades. Discuss homework rules and school attendance.

58. Tell him your views on truancy.

59. Vote in local school board elections and voice your opinion about what is working or not working in schools.

60. Work as a team with the school and community.

=> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents


Anonymous said...

My son is 13 and refusing to go to school. He wants cyber schooled. I work full time so that is not an option. He has missed over 20 days of school and is now considered truant. Every morning is a fight and ends up in a melt down. He has said things to me like "I am done, I quit, I can't go" and so on. It scares me because I don't know what is meant by "I am done". When he is at school he is fine. A lot of the kids look up to him and he is very popular. Last summer i did catch him smoking pot - thru text messages on his phone. I did drug test him and he did come up positive for it. He says he will never do it again. I don't know what to do with him at this point. I have taken things away, grounded and he just says he doesn't care. I know that puberty is playing a big roll is this behavior - always moody, shouts back, defient, etc. This is the scariest thing I have ever gone thru. My worst fear is that h!
e will harm himself over not getting his way with school. He is very dramatic. And I think he knows that scares me and that is a fear of mine. Any suggestions? I am trying my hardest to stick to your plans and tasks. I am always listening to them over and over. But how do I know if his "I am done"'s are just a plot to get what he wants?

Anonymous said...

I also had the same problems with my son. At 14 he decided that he wasn't going to school anymore and it reached the point of him not going to school at all. I worked closely with the school as an advocate for my child...I researched all of our options and found that our school district holds a certain number of spots at an alternative school where children like my son get the education they need but it is designed for children with special needs. It took me a while to get the school to agree to place my son at this school because it does cost the district money for each child they send...but I never gave up. I kept pushing for it and finally they agreed to send him. He has now been at his new school for about 4 months and he LOVES it. He comes home and he wants to talk about school now...he is in smaller classes 6 students with 2 teachers in each class...they have the school days designed so that the children do all of their work in class and never have homework...all of the students are put on a color chart for behavior and rewards...and they offer individual and group counseling twice a week for all their son is like a new kids!!! I highly recommend that you research and do your homework to find all of your options and be a strong advocate for your not give in to the schools or anyone know whats best for your child do not let anyone tell you different!!! GOOD LUCK!

Craig Newton said...

Our son was a teaser for attention instead of getting recognition the right way through achievement and service. For every homework assignment missed I made him dig one foot of ditch for a line to the horse corral. He ended up digging 18 feet of it. I sometimes had to fight him as he got older, he would call CPS and they showed up with a deputy who asked the questions and always told CPS I was in my rights. The elected Sheriff is your first line of defense against tyranny. In high school he got into fights and stole a pair of shoes which got him on probation. The Sheriff put him on probation and would take him to juvenile hall for any disobedience. At 16 they took him away in chains into a strict environment where he begged me to intervene. I got him into Job Core and that turned him. He got his GED and Diploma and certificates for automotive mechanic. He stayed to teach other kids. Now has his own shop and wonderful family. He is the most loving of our 9 children, calls me every day. Be tough, it will pay off big.

Unknown said...

Have you reached out to a family therapist to address your son's unique situation?

Anonymous said...

As I myself went through this it can really just be helpful to sit and talk to them one on one about what other options you may have then public or online schooling. If you are worried about self harm Perhaps asking if thats what they mean and ask if they would 'LIKE' to see guidance forcing them to go to therapy will end nowhere. I know in my personal experience I've said "Im done, I cant go, It wont matter." due to my crippling social anxiety, mild depression and my PTSD. So perhaps it could be self harem or possibly anxiety/depression. Its possible because people do look up to him that it puts pressure on him so he feels like He cant go. It could be a plot to get what he wants but forcing him in the end will only cause a bigger fight, you need to find a middle ground. Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Helpful content, thanks.

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