You can’t fix school refusal with ‘tough love’ – but these steps might help | Christine Grové and Alexandra Marinucci

Parents and educators should approach a child refusing to go to school in a supportive, collaborative and responsive way, without punishment

School attendance levels in Australia are a massive issue, according to the education minister, Jason Clare. As he told reporters last week, he hopes to talk to state colleagues about the issue at a meeting later this month.

There’s evidence that school attendance rates have been dropping now for 10 years, and we see it amongst boys and girls, we see it in every year from kindergarten right through to the end of school.

What the growing number of children who refuse to attend school need most is tough love. Going to school must simply be non-negotiable.

Learning difficulties: some children struggle with the academic side of school, which may lead to feelings of frustration or a lack of motivation.

Social anxiety: some children may be fearful of social situations, which can cause them to avoid school.

Mental health issues: children who are dealing with depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems may have trouble getting to school.

Family problems: issues at home such as divorce, financial problems, or trauma can affect a child’s emotional wellbeing and willingness to go to school.

Negative school experiences: children who have had negative experiences such as bullying may be less likely to attend school.

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