School days have special place in the memory lane of a person’s life. Mention the word ‘school’ and a wave of nostalgia hits the person and sweeps them off their feet and carries them to some distant past land. The word school elicits different memories in different people. Some remember school with a sparkle in their eyes, with all the happy memories of the classes, friends, games, (and sometimes of teachers too!), all the fun they had, all the achievements they made and all the experience they got. But to some, school was far from a fairyland and all they could remember is how miserable they felt while at school.
On another note, if your child or someone you know is one of those people who dread going to school, that can be a cause of anxiety for both you and the child. Worry not, for you can work your worries out! This is how you can go about the problem of school refusal:
10) Help your child view school as a happy place:
Make your children realize that school is a privilege that many people are deprived of. Make them visualize it as a happy and interesting place. Tell them that what they are going to learn and experience at school will benefit them and help them build a good future for themselves. Tell them how education can enable them to bring about a positive change in the society as well. Doing so will surely inspire your kids and they will be able to shake off their school refusal.
9) Be punctual:
When it comes to dropping your child school, be punctual. Going to school a little before time will give your child some time for the informal chit chat with other kids. In case you are late and other kids are already engaged in activities and conversations, your child will feel like an outsider, which will make him/her nervous. Research shows that children, no matter what their age, want to feel that they belong to school and want to feel engaged.
8) Get involved:
When parents get involved in the school activities, children feel that their education and school going is important. Become a member of the parent-teacher association, attend the meetings, be present at the functions like sports day, annual day etc. They want to feel like what they do at school matters to their parents and teachers. Your involvement can have a positive impact on how the child views her/his school.
7) Homework havoc?
The child might be considering homework to be burden. they might be struggling with some subject and might be a little low on confidence. This makes them think that they won’t be able to keep pace with the lessons in school and hence school could become a hostile place for them. Even I remember those not-so-good old days when I wouldn’t dare to go to school with incomplete homework and used to make all sorts of lame excuses to avoid going to school, which hardly ever worked!
What you need to do is to keep calm and remain positive about homework. Help your children in their homework. Tell them that doing homework daily is practice, and practice makes the man perfect. Share stories of the people who are successful but still practice every day. Tell them about the 10,000 hour rule mentioned in the book Outliers: The story of success written by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book, the author says that the greatest athletes, musicians, inventors and dancers practiced for at least 10,000 hours before they became really successful at their “art“. As they`ll gradually loose the fear of homework, they will be able to let go the fear of school, too.
6) Team up with the teachers:
One of the reasons that your child is does not feel comfortable in going to school could be the teacher. But that doesn’t mean that you`ll go straight to the teacher and confront him and tell him how to teach. No! That won’t solve the problem, but chances are doing so can make it worse! Meet the teachers and talk to them about the problem your child is facing, any subject S/he might be weak in, any conditions in your family that are affecting the child’s studies and so on. With some positive interaction with the teacher, you both will be able to find what is bothering the child and can tackle it effectively.
5) Banish the bully:
Around the world, many children drop out of school after going through bad bullying experiences. Bullying is one of the major reasons that makes a child dislike or afraid of going to the school. Many a times, the children are even afraid to report incidents of bullying to the teachers. Some kids will be stoic in the school even after suffering at the hands of the bully but will cry after coming home. Talk to your child and the teachers/ school authorities about the problem so that they take appropriate action against the bully.
Talk to your children about their school. Ask them how their day was at school, the activities they do, but remember, don’t focus solely on academics. Also, make them aware of the difficulties they can encounter in their school life. Alleviate their fears. Above all, be a good listener. Listen patiently to what all they have to say, what they feel and what they experience at school. Appreciate them for all the good things they are doing and encourage them to continue doing so, and do even better. Again, remember not to burden them with expectations and force them to over-perform. They won’t bloom under pressure; they’ll just be disappointed of themselves for not keeping up with your expectations. Interacting with them is the best way you can drive out their fears about school.
3) Trust the teachers!
Many a times you might face such situations, where you have come to drop your child and he is reluctant to leave your side and go to the class. It might be heart-wrenching for you to leave your child wailing and crying, but this is the best thing to do. You have to trust the teachers, for they will keep your child safe. The more you persist, the more difficult it will be day by day to leave your child in the classroom. Once you act brave enough and leave your child, you will see that he will calm down after some time and get engaged in the classroom activities. Slowly, he will build up the confidence to be in the class and won’t be afraid to go to school!
2) Co-ordination between Home and School:
Don’t limit learning just within the boundaries of the school. Try to co-ordinate the learning experiences of children between school and home. Experiment, try out new things and make learning fun for them. For example, if they are learning about animals in the school you can take them for a trip to the zoo; if they are studying artifacts, you can take them to a museum. Let them explore the backyard, the garden and the night sky. Many kids are afraid of calculations and in general, of mathematics. Ask them to count change, sum up small amounts spent at the grocery shop etc. Set an example for them and read yourself! Read out stories to them at bedtime, or even better, you can ask them to read it out. Try to answer all their queries and in case you don’t know the answer, you and your child can find it together (Google acts as a saviour in such cases!). When they’ll find that learning could be so interesting and enjoyable, they will definitely love going to school.
1) Keep Calm and take a chill-pill:
Many a times, the child’s fear is fuelled by the fear of the parents. Stop worrying so much! If, at the first place, you will be paranoid about sending your child school and constantly worry about him when he is there, how can you expect your child not to be afraid of going to school? He will obviously think that school is a horrible place to be, because his school going is causing agony to his parents! So first and foremost, you need to keep a check on your own anxiety. Only then you will be able to make your child believe that going to school is beneficial for him.