Easy Ways to Stop Your Tween From Skipping School

three girls in school uniforms running down a road
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Middle schoolers often feel the temptation to break a few rules, just to see what they can get away with. Skipping school may be one way they choose to test the rules and their parents. At some point during your child's middle school experience, he or she may try to skip school. While skipping school may be glamorized in the movies (just think about the classic movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off) and even in literature, the truth is the behavior can lead to other dangers or discipline problems, not to mention academic consequences.

Children who skip school may be tempted to engage in smoking, drinking or other dangers, or they may get into trouble by vandalizing or stealing. Even if your child skips school to watch television or hang out with friends, it's a problem that most parents would prefer to avoid.

But you can do a lot ahead of time to prevent your child from skipping school and getting into trouble with the school administration and of course, you. Here's how to prevent your child from engaging in truant behavior.

How to Prevent Your Child From Skipping School

  • Discuss the School's Rules: Schools have rules about tardies and missed days, but few families actually talk about the school's rules and consequences for missed days. Be sure your child understands that unexcused absences can lead to a whole lot of problems for him. Point out that your child's spot on the school's basketball team might be put into jeopardy if he misses school without an excuse. Also, any child who misses school will have an increase in his homework load. Grades may also be impacted. Schools don't always allow children to make up tests or other graded responsibilities if they played hooky.
  • Know the Consequences: Consequences will vary from school to school or district to district. Families may experience fines if their child skips school and a truancy officer is called to look into the situation. It's also possible that children who miss a lot of school will not advance to the next grade.
  • Talk About Your Expectations: It's not just about school rules, it's about your rules as well. Be sure your child understands your expectations as well as your consequences. Middle schoolers may think twice about skipping school if they know that they'll lose their cell phone, iPad, or other device for a few weeks.
  • Know if There's a Problem: Students may be tempted to miss school because of a problem, such as bullying or even an academic problem. Be sure you know what's going on in your child's life so that you can help and prevent your child from feeling the need to miss school just to avoid a confrontation or an embarrassment. Discussing problems and dealing with them, or giving your child the tools he needs to handle them, but be just enough to keep your child from playing hooky.
  • Stay Connected to the School: It's much easier for parents to know their child's whereabouts today than it has been in the past. Automatic phone and email alerts will allow parents to know if their child missed morning attendance. Follow up alerts will allow parents to know if their child was marked absent for the day. Such notifications give parents the opportunity to react before their child's truancy becomes a regular problem or habit.
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