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Positively reframing school as an opportunity could be effective for a mature, thoughtful kid. I work with kids in 4th - 6th grade and most have pretty severe mental illness, so I'm doubtful as to whether they'd be able to listen and seriously consider this idea. In my classroom, I've tried to reframe school as an opportunity for them to connect with peers and get some adult support/attention. For some of these kids, that is effective.
In the program I work in, we use positive reinforcement in the sense that we acknowledge that for these kids right now, the biggest accomplishement is getting to school. When we start working with these kids, we try and make school a positive experience by making connections, supporting these kids strengths, etc. For example, taking breaks during the school day to shoot hoops with a kid who really likes to play street ball. We pick these kids up for school. We take them out to lunch. We make sure they have a connection with other staff in the school like the principle, the secretary, the cafeteria workers, the janitors. We work with them and their family in the home. We make sure they know we care and we want them at school and that they are more than their grades.
Beyond this, we try and address the source of the problem. For example, I've worked with kids with seperation anxiety who don't want to leave the family or kids who are using drugs and therefore are very unsuccessful at school and do not find belonging in a school atmosphere.
It's amazing what can happen when a kid knows you care about them and not just that they get to school. Letting them know that you know they have real problems, that they matter, and that you want to help can make a world of difference. Fining a family does not send this message.
I'm lucky in that I work in a classroom with 7 students and 4 staff members where the focus is not just school and academics and we can support kids with their many talents and not just their scholastic achievement.
I guess if I you were to pin me down for an answer to truancy, I'd say more support in schools in the form of staff, and not just teachers. Schools need therapists, counselors, B.S.S's, aides, parents, etc. Also, early intervention in high-risk families would be really helpful. It's nearly impossible to try and help a kid to attend school when the family lacks the skills to deal with these problem behaviors.
posted 3 years, 2 months ago
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