Attend and Achieve: Tips and Resources to Help Families Avoid School Avoidance
“I don’t want to go to school today.”
It’s not uncommon for children to utter these words at least once during their academic careers. Most of us would like the occasional extra day at home–but when it becomes a frequent phrase it can cause attendance issues, even chronic absenteeism, and struggles in the household. Left unchecked, these absences can affect a student’s ability to access educational and emotional support resources.
School avoidance–or even school refusal–is a recognized issue in children of all ages and it can stem from many causes. Students may say they feel unwell or have vague symptoms. According to HealthyChildren.org, one of the causes of school avoidance is school-related anxiety. Talking with your student about the specific reasons they have for wanting to stay home is an important way to understand any emotional struggles they may experience. Students may also build reluctance toward school due to situational events and changes at home or on campus.
Frequent reluctance toward attending school can be addressed with the help of school site teachers, administrators, and counseling staff. Redwood City School District has full-time mental health clinicians across all 12 school sites providing individual and group therapy as well as crisis interventions. Additionally, RCSD has partnerships with local non-profit agencies and Stanford University which provide additional counselors and support, increasing capacity for meeting students’ mental health needs.
Other tips for helping a student overcome school avoidance include:
Informing school staff of the reluctance to school attendance
Helping a child develop independence by encouraging activities outside of the home
Developing a firm bedtime and morning routine
Acknowledging the child’s concerns but committing to get to school as soon as possible
Sources for this article: HealthyChildren.org, AttendanceWorks.org, SchoolAvoidance.org