What to do if your Child is Playing Truant

  • By: Beth Morrisey
  • Time to read: 4 min.

A child may play truant for a variety of reasons, but parents must remember that there is never a good reason for their child to miss out on their education. Skipping school means that a child will fall behind in class, risk their own safety by being somewhere unsupervised, neglect friendships with kids their own age and may well fall into activities that lead to greater trouble.

In order to stop truancy before it gets out of hand, parents should talk to their children to find out what is the problem at school. Discussing the same issue with the child’s teachers, agreeing to a support plan or even investigating other schools should all help a child feel more welcome in the classroom and more inclined to return to school.

Talk to your Child

A lot of people assume that children who play truant are lazy, uninterested in school or inclined towards antisocial behaviour. This may be the case for some children, but not every child who plays truant does so because they are uninterested in school or seduced by a life of less restrictions on the streets. Some children play truant because they can not cope with the schoolwork but won’t ask for help, some play truant because they are Being Bullied and some play truant because they have an emotional or behavioural disorder that has yet to be diagnosed but makes the classroom a difficult environment.

Some parents may even contribute to truancy without even knowing it, such as by taking children out of class to go on holiday or encouraging children to take duvet days when they feel over- or under-whelmed by what is going on at school. Once a parent has established why a child prefers to play truant, then actions can be taken to help sort out the situation.

Talk to the Teachers

When a parent has some idea of why their child does not enjoy school, it is time to talk to the child’s teachers about it. A teacher may have no idea what is going on with the child, or a teacher may have a very different idea of what affects the child at school. Once parents and teachers are on the same page about a child’s truancy they can begin to pinpoint how to offer the child extra support and bring him or her back to school.

Agree to a Support Plan

A support plan must be put into action as quickly as possible for a child playing truant. Once truancy becomes an established routine it becomes less likely that a child will give it up for good. If it is found out that a child is playing truant to stay safe from bullies, then this issue must be confronted.

If it is found that a child is playing truant because (s)he can’t cope with the class work, then extra academic support or testing for learning disorders may be in order. If it is found that a child is playing truant because (s)he can not cope with the classroom, then testing for emotional and/or behavioural disorders may be important. As soon as a parent and teacher can agree on a course of action it should be implemented so that the child can return to school feeling safe and supported.

Investigate Other Schools

Some parents may find that a school is unwilling to provide extra support for a student, particularly if (s)he had a history of disruptive or antisocial behaviour before the truancy began. Some parents may also find that a school is willing to provide support, but that the facilities or activities that they can offer is not what a child needs.

If it looks as though a child may begin to play truant again, parents should keep the child’s safety foremost in their mind. Investigating another school may be one way to deal with the child’s issues at school while investigating activities requiring commitment and discipline may help a child keep more order in his or her life. While these actions may seem extreme, remember that they are no more extreme than a child self-sacrificing his or her education because they do not feel comfortable at their present school.

When a child plays truant a parent must recognise the situation and regard it as a call for help. By discussing truancy with the child and his or her teacher, supplying the extra supports that a child may need and investigating new schools to better serve the child parents can address the truancy immediately, and help to resolve it before playing truant becomes a life-long habit.

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