My teenager is not getting up in the mornings to go to school. He has his alarm set, we wake him up and his friend comes over to pick him up. But so far this year he has had more days off than what he has been to school. He is a good kid and is at the top of all his classes but he just doesn’t see the relevance in going to school because he isn’t learning anything. Any ideas on how to get him motivated?

Posted anonymously, 10th March 2019

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  • Maybe your son is more advanced than the school is actually teaching and is simply bored. If he is getting good grades at school that may be one of the causes. I know a girl whose parents has the same issue a lot. She missed school a few times (+was sick a few times she caught every bug going around the school) but she still got A for every subject. She was simply bored. Near the end of the school year (she was in year 8) they had her assessed. She was so far advanced that she went straight to year 8. I’m wondering how long before she will be bored again and her parents have the same issue again.

  • I can relate in some sense as I have the same issue with my daughter. Every day she says she hates school and doesn’t want to go and we argue but in the end, I believe by law that they have to attend school to a certain age so I have explained she doesn’t have a choice until that age. When she is old enough she can make the decision but until then, she has to go to school. Again, similarities where she says she is not learning anything so I have had discussions on changing schools or even finding out if there is a trade/VET subject or alternative school she would like rather than the conventional. It is hard when they say no to everything. I do worry that there may be bullying at school but teenagers don’t always want to discuss this. I have now talked to other parents who have suggested perhaps seeing a psychologist…maybe this is something you could also consider. I wish you all the very best.

  • Sounds social related. Teachers or kids harrassing him? Does he have good friend base at school? If he’s needing more challenges,talk ti the school about extra credit

  • Is your son bored at school?
    Is he being bullied?
    The school should be working with you to get your boy engaged at school.
    Just hope he won’t lose friends by not attending to school.
    Hope you find a solution with the schools support.

  • Maybe find out if there’s an underlying issue elsewhere that he hasn’t voiced

  • Working with the school to address engagement is always a good idea. The school should be actively working to find way to engage with your child and looking at all options for engagement. A conference with school may be beneficial with everyone working together.

  • If he is doing well academically, then there must be something else going on. Either he needs to be set more challenging work, or there might be some social aspect of school e.g. bullying that is keeping him away. Speaking with his teachers and peers might shed some light on what is going on.

  • As a retired secondary school teacher, my first thought is whether or not your son is being bullied. It must be very hard and stressful for you as u cant force your child to attend school. Discussions with the year level co-ordinator are essential. I wonder if the co-ordinator would consider visiting your son at home on one of the days he doesn’t attend. That way they could have a meaningful discussion away from the school environment. Maybe there is one subject he particularly hates and he could change to another subject? Or perhaps it isn’t the school work that he finds boring, but something else is bothering him. It would be so helpful if he would be willing to talk to a psychologist about his worries. I wish you all the best as it is a difficult time for all of you.

  • Have a chat with the year advisor and one of his teachers – perhaps there is a mentor who can spark his interest in a particular project or activity.

  • People seem to think you’ll get into trouble if your child misses a lot of school. I have a niece, on my partners side, who’s kids miss school all the time. Her eldest son didn’t finish primary school and is practically illiterate. Her second youngest son only goes to school when there is a subject he’s interested in. No one seems to care! It can be really hard to encourage a teenagers interest in much of anything let alone school

  • Missing so many days of school is not ok. Maybe you could try to understand better in which subjects he gets bored and go and talk to those teachers to see if they can give him some different projects to keep him motivated and curious. But I think it would be best to do something about it as soon as possible.

  • Having days off school without good reason could land him in a bit of trouble with the education dept. I’d be questioning if the reason he’s given you for not wanting to attend is the real reason or if there is some other reason. You could try talking to the head teacher or principal or school counsellor without his knowledge to see what his attitude is when he does attend. They may have some suggestions for you. You could also ask if they have noticed any change in him and if there has been, find out when that change took place and if it coincided with any particular event in his life.

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