Truanting tends to be a problem faced by parents of teenagers, although the seeds are often planted much earlier. It is important therefore to establish a positive attitude to school from the very beginning.
- Right from the reception year ensure that school attendance is seen as very important.
- Also make timekeeping an important feature – do not allow your children to fall into the pattern of being late for school.
- Do not allow your children to miss school for any other reason than illness (parties, relative visit, tiredness etc are not good enough reasons!).
- Try to arrange medical/dental appointments outside of school hours
- If your child has to have a medical appointment during school hours makes sure that they attend school both before and after the appointment.
- Fix in your head a level of illness that means a child should have the day off school eg actual physical sickness or temperature of 100 degrees or over. The school will send your child home if they feel they are too ill to be in, however it is amazing how quickly a child will perk up from a tummy ache or feeling of sickness once they are in school with their friends.
- With broken bones, it is probably only necessary for them to have one or two days off school. Once they can get around as normal there is no reason why they should be off school.
- If a child is persistently saying they feel unwell – investigate other reasons for their not wanting to attend school- work in partnership with the school to resolve these reasons.
- If your child’s attendance falls below 95% you should be concerned, if your child’s attendance falls below 92% the school will be concerned, if it falls below 84% you will be contacted by an educational welfare officer.
What to do if your child is already truanting
- Talk to your child. Find out why they are not attending school. Is it that they are scared, bored, finding work too difficult?
- Talk to the school. What can they provide in school to help the child? Is there the possibility of counselling, learning mentor, other additional help?
- Make a plan with the school and the child about how to get the child back into school, ensure that all parties sign a contract.
- The plan should include when the child will attend, what the school will provide in terms of support and rewards and sanctions for attendance / non attendance, from both the parents and the school. (The rewards become necessary with persistent absentees).
- Rewards and sanctions should be per day if not per lesson and a bonus should be given for a full week in school, this way the child still has a reason to continue with the agreement.