For almost as long as there have been public school systems it seems that kids have been tempted to skip school or cut class. Generally this does not become an issue for parents and students until the junior or senior high school years. Parents need to be aware of the issue and prepared to effectively address the action if their kids skip school.
One of the first things parents need to be aware of is the truancy law in their areas. Parents are often unaware that habitual truancy (skipping school regularly) can mean financial fines, community service hours, or even jail time for the parents. This is done to motivate families to address these issues early, before it becomes a habit. Students can also face legal matters beyond the schools’ walls. Some cities will revoke driving privileges or mandate community service hours for students.
Parents will often assume that it won’t be their child who ditches school, so there are not discussions about consequences. It is important that parents address the issue of school attendance before skipping class is a real possibility. Parents should explain about the importance of attendance, make sure the kids understand the school policies, and related truancy laws. At this time parents should also make it clear what the consequences will be if the child skips school. For each family this might be different, but some common discipline methods are taking away cell phones, television time, computer use, or restricting time with friends outside of school since hanging out with friends is often a motivator for kids to skip classes.
If a child still chooses to skip school, most often parents are notified of the violation. Even if parents might think that it is just a onetime grievance, it is imperative that the action is addressed and the consequences are followed. Parents should try to determine if the child ditched school because of peer pressure to hang out with friends or if there were academic reasons, such as fear of taking a test or not having an assignment finished. These reasons are very different and can make a large difference in the type of discipline that is decided upon. For kids who want to hang out with friends, removing ways to connect with them such as cell phones and computers can have the desired effect. However, if a child skips school to avoid certain classes it may be time for the parents to intervene and meet with the teachers to determine what is going on in the class that might be challenging for the child. Teachers who are connected with parents are often more willing and able to have positive interactions with their children and encourage them to be responsible students.
Children usually know that they will get caught skipping school, but either for reasons of defiance, fear, or peer pressure, are still willing to take the risk. It is extremely important that parents are vigilant about monitoring their children’s actions and school attendance and take steps to make sure that a one-time bad decision does not turn into a habit that jeopardizes the education and future of the child.
Your friend and fellow parent,
Parenting Coach, Author & Speaker