Jenny is three years now. She started her daycare when she was two and a half years old. Her relationship with school is complicated. She only goes when she feels like. Her mother has been tolerating that, saying she is still young for school. What she doesn’t know is that Jenny is developing this “hate” for school at a very tender age, which needs to be addressed.
Parents all want their children to feel happy about going to school. After all, they are going to be spending a very significant part of their young life in the education system so it is a huge worry if you find that school and your child don’t mix. There can be a number of reasons why a child may put up resistance about going to school and it is vital to tread very carefully when trying to establish what is causing the problem – it may be that a child is being bullied, unable to keep up academically or simply feeling anxious about being away from the home environment and his or her parents.
But whatever the reasons, it is important to tackle any long-term aversion to school before the problem escalates. It is really distressing if a child just embarking on their school life or at primary school has problems adjusting and settling into an academic environment. Coping with a crying child who is refusing to go to school is difficult to negotiate – after all, at this young age a child’s fears about ‘the big wide world’ (which school is part of) should not just be shrugged off. A new school is a very scary place to a little 4-year-old!
Parents have both a legal and moral responsibility to ensure their children are in education so if you have a young child who is refusing to go to school the problem must be dealt with. Below is some help for parents on coping with this distressing issue.
Kids are hugely adaptable but parents should not underestimate just how much they have to take on when they move into a pre-school or school environment. Having enjoyed lots of time in the safe haven that is their home it can be bewildering to get used to a whole new routine, based in an unfamiliar environment and with lots of new faces. Aside from getting used to the concept of ‘learning’ there are all the practical things we adults take for granted, such as finding their way to the loo, putting their clothes back on properly and interacting with other kids.
Your young child’s refusal to go to school could be simply due to the fact that they are struggling to take on board all of these new requirements. Support for children making the transition is crucial – make sure your child is coping with all these things. Many children have a very real fear about going to the loo at school and it could be that their worry about having ‘an accident’ at school is the cause of their protestations. If you are concerned about anything of this nature have a quiet word with your child’s teacher and explain your worries to them. They can then keep a special eye on your child and help them find their feet.
Problems at home
Children are perceptive creatures from a very young age. They pick up on problems at home and their worries about these problems will not necessarily mean they want to ‘escape’ from those problems by going to school. The reverse can often be true. If they are anxious about mum and dad rowing they may not want to leave mum at home in case mum’s not there when they get back from school. Perhaps their parent has a disability or health problem and the child feels guilty or afraid to leave them in case something happens while they are away.
Serious problems such as domestic violence, alcohol or drug abuse, can leave children feeling responsible for the parent who is either subjected to the abuse or dealing with the addiction. Obviously problems such as these have huge consequences for all members of the family – it goes without saying that these situations require intervention as soon as possible.
If you are having problems at home such as going through a bit of rough patch with your partner it’s important to consider that this will most likely be having some effect on your child and could be the reason behind their refusal to go to school. Give your child reassurance wherever possible – talk to them and put their mind at rest that nothing is going to happen while they’re at school.
Keeping up academically
As children move into more formal learning anxieties about keeping up in class come to the fore. Some children can feel overwhelmed by so many new things to learn and are either unable to make it known to their teacher that they cannot keep up or are embarrassed to admit they do not understand something in front of their class mates. The problem can quickly escalate, leading eventually to a refusal to go to school.
A good school should always pick up a child who is struggling to keep up but this is not always the case and some children can find themselves left behind. If you notice there’s a problem before the school does be sure to arrange an appointment with your child’s teacher at the earliest opportunity. Ensure the adequate measures are taken so you trouble-shoot any potential problems early. It may be that there is absolutely nothing to worry about – remember all children learn at different rates – or it could be that your child does have an educational special need that needs addressing, such as dyslexia, for example.
Consider the following tips when your preschooler causes tantrums about school or share and help another mum on how to deal with their own.