Today’s blog focuses on ‘missing a lot of school’. We begin with understanding the reasons that make going to school important. We then look into the details of missing a lot of school or chronic absenteeism including the reasons for it. We then discuss the myths associated with the child missing a lot of school, followed by the impact. Lastly, we take into account the various ways in which we can deal with a child who is missing a lot of school.
Missing A Lot Of School:
Many parents may not realise that their child is missing a lot of school. A day or two of missing school may not be problematic, but when a child misses school for two days in one month, it can be said that the child is missing a lot of school or may be dealing with what is called chronic absenteeism.
Today, we talk of a few ways in which we deal with a situation where the child is missing a lot of school as follows:
- Having an open communication with your child
- Involve the school
- Getting the child examined by a child specialist/psychologist
- Encourage them to have a travel buddy
- Set a downtime
- Teach by example
- Use healthy reinforcements
Why is going to school important?
Most of us as children had our days when all we wanted to do was miss school, stay at home and have fun. However, going to school is an important part of a child’s education and helps the child learn new things everyday.
Going to school can help the child learn important skills and knowledge and would also help them learn social and emotional skills such as team work, sharing and resilience.
Studies have shown that students who attend school regularly tend to have better health, better job opportunities and better income throughout their lives.
However, despite the known benefits of schooling for a child, there have been increasing cases where the children have been missing a lot of school.
Missing a lot of school or chronic absenteeism:
The exact definition of what constitutes chronic absenteeism varies from region, wherein some regions believe that missing more than 10%of the total school days will be considered as chronic absenteeism, while some consider this ratio to be 18 % and for others it is 15%. However, on the outset, if the child is missing more than two days of school in a month, it can be termed as chronic absenteeism.
Chronic absenteeism also includes any form of excused absenteeism such as taking leaves due to being sick, having medical appointments, family holidays, death in the family or due to tunacy. It also includes any form of unexcused absences and disciplinary action, such as being suspended.
Missing a lot of school can put the child at an increased risk of poor school performance and dropping out of school. It can also further contribute to increased unhealthy behaviours as teens and young adults and can also lead to a deterioration of their overall health.
However, there can be other, serious reasons why the child may be missing a lot of school.
These reasons include:
There may be a chance that the child is bullied and harassed by the peers and seniors at school and the fear of which prevents the child from going to school.
- Feeling lonely and not having friends
The child may not have a lot of friends and other students in class may not be including the child in the activities, projects and play time.
- Falling behind at studies resulting in poor grades
If the child has learning difficulties, he or she may fall behind in studies and end up getting poor grades. The resulting embarrassment may prevent the child from going to school.
- Fear of a particular teacher or a subject
Some teachers may be strict and may be punishing the students, while some subjects may be difficult because of which the child may fear going to school.
- Any physical ailment or disability
Physical ailments such as any long term disease or illness or a history of seizures as well as physical disability may hamper the child’s capacity to go to school.
- Mental health issue
If the child is anxious, depressed, suffers from ADHD or any other mental health issue, the parents may not be comfortable sending the child to school.
- Bhevaioural and developmental delays
This includes delays in speech, walking and other sensory motor functions such as fine motor and gross motor skills, hand eye coordination, eye contact may prevent the child from functioning normally at school due to which they may want to avoid school.
- Bad sleeping habits
This means the child may not be encouraged to sleep on time and may be engaged in watching television for long periods, due to which the child is unable to wake up in time for school.
- The child is not encouraged to go to school by parents
The child’s schooling is not taken seriously by the parents especially if the parents themselves are not very educated or in certain cultures come from very conservative backgrounds.
- Relationship breakdowns
Dysfunctional family background such as conflict between parents, divorce and separation, or a history of abuse may not let the child come to school.
The child fears being separated from the parents especially if he or she has never stayed away from the parents.
- Social anxiety
The child fears being in a crowd along with the fear of being judged by peers and teachers and the fear may not let them come to school regularly.
- The pressure of being constantly disciplined
Some schools are extremely particular with their discipline and decorum and this excessive discipline may get suffocating for the student, preventing them from coming to school.
Although every child passes through a stage where they do not want to go to school, if it continues for an extended period of time, it becomes imperative to understand the reasons behind the child missing a lot of school.
The myths about missing a lot of school:
Although missing a lot of school or chronic absenteeism is a serious issue, there are several myths attached to it.
Myth 1: Students who skip school are lazy.
As seen above there can be a number of excused as well as unexcused reasons for absenteeism to take place. It may not be the case that a student is lazy if he or she is not coming to school. Each child, at some point may feel lazy to come to school for a day or two, but chronic absenteeism has a definitive cause behind it.
Myth 2: Missing school for a few days is not a big deal.
Missing school for a prolonged period of time not only has an impact on the child’s grades but also on the overall development and health. It may severely affect a student’s potential to score good marks, learn skills and values and gain knowledge that is much important.
Myth 3: Showing up to school will not matter if the child is not ready to learn
Even though the child may not be in the state of mind to learn because of emotional issues or physical difficulties, he or she may benefit just by being in the school as the school provides a different atmosphere, helps the child interact with teachers, peers, helps them understand new things and helps them channelise their attention into something productive.
Myth 4: The schools are already overloaded to do anything for absent kids.
The contrary of this is true. The schools now take special efforts to keep a track of kids who are missing a lot of school. The students and the parents are offered special counseling services if there is a serious issue preventing the child from coming to school. Additionally, provisions are also now made for specific children to increase their attendance at school such as special classes, after school activities, newer methods of teaching, better teacher student interaction etc.
Myth 5: Students missing a lot of school or dropping out of school does not impact the institution.
On the contrary, the educational institutions are also greatly affected by chronic absenteeism. The school functions as unit consisting of the teachers, the students, the support staff and the management. If any one of the elements is not present as a part of the unit, there is a possibility that the entire unit may collapse.
The impact of missing a lot of school:
- Missing a lot of school or chronic absenteeism creates a snowball effect, as when the child misses school in his or her early years, it hampers their reading and writing abilities in future.
- It can turn into a long term habit that can have a spillover effect. Once the child ends up missing a lot of school on a regular basis and the issue is not taken seriously, there is a chance that the same behaviour will be carried out in other areas of life such as work and personal relationships.
- Missing a lot of school also reduces the chances of success in high school and college.
How can we deal with a child who is missing a lot of school?
- Having an open communication with the child:
Once the parents notice that the child is refusing to go to school almost everyday, it is necessary for them to sit the child down and talk to him or her in an open and non-threatening manner. If the child believes that his or her parents will listen to their problems without scolding them, they are more likely to open up to their parents which makes finding solutions easier.
For more information on building an open communication with your child, please click here.
- Involve the school:
The child is likely to be able to deal with the absenteeism triggering problems better if they know they can get support from the family as well as the school. For this, it is important for the parents to talk to the principal, teachers and the school counselor. Such team effort plays an important role when the cause of child’s missing a lot of school is rooted in them being bullied, their separation anxiety, social anxiety, learning disability, physical and mental health issues and when the child fears a teacher or a subject.
- Getting the child examined by a child specialist/psychologist:
In many cases, if the child’s physical disability or learning difficulty is undiagnosed or if the child is facing an emotional issue which they are not talking about, it can cause problems in school and the parents and the child may be unaware of it. A thorough examination of the child can help provide important insights into the problem.
- Encourage them to have a travel buddy:
Whenever possible, encourage the child to go to school with other children from the neighbourhood. When the child sees others of his age going to school, the child is likely to be motivated too. This can work well in case of separation anxiety.
- Set a downtime:
Teaching the child to have a set time for meals and sleep can help. These should be taught to put down all the electronic gadgets after a specific time and should go to bed. Additionally, packing a school bag and putting out the clothes or uniform for the next day can also inculcate discipline in the child.
- Teach by example:
In case of social anxiety, separation anxiety and proper sleeping time habits, the children can be taught to be the example of the parents, who, for instance, go to work leaving their kids at home or at school, but they know that they are safe, so the parents do not get scared. The child can be asked to reflect on that.
Also, they can be shown that because the parents sleep on time, they are able to get to work on time and they don’t miss out on that. This can encourage the child to have good sleeping habits.
- Use healthy reinforcements:
If the child refuses to go to school due to the fear of being bullied, not having friends, anxiety, emotional, physical and mental health issues, but goes because of the encouragement of the parent and the school, the child should be given a healthy reinforcement to keep them encouraged to continue their behaviour.
These reinforcements can help the child understand that they have taken a brave step.
It is important to remember that schooling is the basis of several fundamental aspects of a child’s life and therefore if the child is missing a lot of school, it needs to be dealt with urgently.
Frequently Asked Questions: Missing A Lot Of School
Is missing a day of school bad?
Missing one day of school, in some situations can be justified. However, according to Attendance Works, missing 18 days a school year can drastically affect a student’s academic success.
How many days can a kindergarten miss?
You are allowed up to 42 allowable absence days per child each financial year. If you reach your allowable absence limit, you may get additional absences equivalent to unpaid leaves.
Can you be truant with excused absences?
Truancy means being absent from school without permission or a valid reason. A child can become truant if he or she has multiple unexcused absences.
Do absences affect grades?
Research shows that attendance is an important factor in student achievement and this starts from the kindergarten and works as a snowball effect, impacting the grades in higher classes also.
What happens when truancy is filed?
Truancy court proceedings often have a probationary period. Students, as well as their parents, may be required to come back weekly for status checks to make sure the student is doing everything he agreed to do. If you or your child fail to meet any requirements of probation, there can be criminal charges that can be pressed.
Today’s blog focused on ‘missing a lot of school’. We began with understanding the reasons that make going to school important. We then looked into the details of missing a lot of school or chronic absenteeism including the reasons for it. We then discussed the myths associated with the child missing a lot of school, followed by the impact. Lastly, we took into account the various ways in which we can deal with a child who is missing a lot of school.
I hope the blog post was able to provide adequate clarity into the issue of missing a lot of school along with its reasons, myths, impact and tips to deal with it. Please feel free to drop in any comments or queries.