Strategies are needed to keep kids in school and parents aware of what is going on. Because of technology and with the help of computers, truant students are easier to keep track of and follow now than ever before.There are still many schools, however, that have large groups of students who miss school on an alarming basis. Some schools actually suspend students who are habitually absent.
This seems crazy when the behavior exhibited shows that for whatever reason, the student does not want to be at school. The sensible approach would be to discover why the student doesn’t want to be at school in the first place and to see if it can be fixed.
Students may stay away from school for a variety of reasons, some may be very simple reasons such as; fear of someone, learning issues, or lack of parental support.Others may be deeper and darker reasons, drug use, abuse, or lack of a parent at home.
Reasons for Truancy
Lecturing to truant students is basically useless, as is retribution. Administrators and teachers need to realize that there is a reason for the absences and unless the reason is discovered and a plan made to prevent it, no change will occur. Several different courses of action that should definitely be avoided when dealing with students who are absent often with the first one being to refrain from criticizing or ridiculing the student.
Unless the student is of legal age, a parent or guardians should be responsible for making sure the student is at school. It does little good to begin a discussion with “the rules of the school state” in regards to attendance. Sarcastic and aversive reactions to the student only contribute to the student’s negative feelings about school. This also includes trying to embarrass the student into attending class.
Until the reasons behind the absences are brought to the teacher’s awareness, it is important to make the student feel welcomed and part of the school population. Of course this would depend on the philosophy of the school that the student attends.
Strategies to Prevent Truancy
The following are some strategies that may help when dealing with truancy in the classroom.
A counseling group for truant students that stresses values and understanding of their issues is beneficial. It is important to try and respect the student’s opinions and statements, even when they might not seem to make sense.
Show the student you are glad he or she is at school without saying it out loud. This could include, having some of his/her work displayed, using his /her name often or giving a privilege, like a special errand.
Be empathic but also remind the student of the responsibility to others.We so needed you yesterday to help with the big class project is one way to let the student know they were missed without making a big production of the absence.
Use a reward system, like a token –economy program, that gives the student a tangible reward for the student attending school. Individualize the truant student’s instruction. Try to find ways to keep the student from failure at all costs.
Many students who have failing grades see no point in returning to school once they have failed. Increase responsibility in the student by giving extra time to make up missing work. This can be done after school (with parents’ permission), or perhaps during a class that the student is not required to do a lot of work, i.e. PE, Choir.
Consequences and Retribution
When all else fails, it might be time to explain consequences of further truancy. It is important to not overuse threats when dealing with students. It might be possible that by telling the student any more absences will lead to court that the student could drop out completely.
Teachers, staff, and administrators should all work towards what is best not only for the school but for individual students as well. By viewing each child as an individual and providing a individualized education program it is possible to obtain a higher percentage of success for each child.