School Refusal: Why Some Kids Won’t Go to School

If getting your child to school on time involves tears, tantrums, or sophisticated negotiation methods, you are not alone. On any given school day, nearly a quarter of American kids are digging in their heels. Read on to learn what might be behind this behavior and what you can do about it.

Your Child Is a Victim of Bullying

According to, “5.4 million students stay home on any given day because they’re afraid of being bullied.” And since many children don’t report bullying to their parents, there’s a chance that your child may be a victim without your ever knowing. Early intervention is one of the best ways to put an end to bullying and improve educational outcomes for your child, so it’s important to ask the question if you notice your child avoiding school. If you discover your child is being bullied, you can put some strategies in place to resolve the situation:

  • Speak to your child’s teacher and principal so they can discipline the bully
  • Talk to your child regularly about the situation at school
  • Build up your student with plenty of praise
  • Look into alternative school options for your child if the bullying is interfering with his or her safety and/or academic potential

Your Child Is Bored

It’s difficult to get children to school if they don’t feel stimulated when they get there. Boredom can be a problem for many students, from gifted kids to reluctant learners. School can be boring at times, particularly when your child is studying a topic that doesn’t interest them or if the curriculum is not challenging, but there are ways you can solve this problem, too:

  • Speak to your child’s teacher about creating enriching assignments or lessons featuring your child’s hobbies or interests
  • Encourage your student to join a school club or activity that will make school more fun
  • Consider other school options, such as a K12-powered school, that might better inspire your child to learn free from classroom distractions that slow down the learning process

Your Child Is Struggling with Lessons

Students who feel self-conscious about their academic abilities may also try every tactic to get out of going to school. This could be a temporary problem, such as when kids are worried about catching up after a bout of illness, or a more long-term issue for children with learning difficulties. No matter which camp your child falls into, there are ways to combat this problem:

  • Speak to your student’s teacher about the situation, and develop a plan for managing the problem
  • Work with your child on homework and other school assignments
  • Hire a tutor to give your child the extra help needed to catch up or keep pace
  • A K12-powered school might also be a good solution for a struggling child since K12 takes an individualized approach to education that fits each student’s needs.

Strategies for All Students

No matter why your child is reluctant to go to school, the following strategies are important to keep in mind:

  • Stay calm, cool, and collected. This approach reminds your child that you have the upper hand.
  • Develop a morning routine and stick to it.
  • Remind your child that attending school is their responsibility. It’s important for children to learn that, although they won’t always like it, fulfilling their responsibilities is an essential part of growing up.

If all these tips fail, perhaps your child may be better suited to learning at home. Visit K12 to receive a free information kit about this proven, online education program.

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