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Problems at school

school refusal; truancy; homework; truant; school; fear; no school; problems; feelings;


Some kids love school and can't wait to get there every school day. 

Most kids have days when they don't want to go to school. Some kids just feel like they don't want to go any day.

If you feel like this then this topic may help you work out what is your problem and give you some tips on how to deal with it.
home work 

Dealing with problems  

  • What is your problem with school? Work it out then talk about it with mum and dad, the teacher, school counsellor and the principal and they will help you.
  • If you're not sure, keep a diary for a week, write down the good things and the bad things that happen at school each day, when you feel good and when you don't, then talk about your feelings with mum or dad.
  • If someone is bullying you, remember that you don't have to put up with bullying, you have the right to feel safe. Look at our topics Bullying and Dealing with bullies on this site for what you can do.
  • If work is too hard or too easy, tell mum and your teacher. They can work out a program with you, get extra help if needed and practise with you until you are more confident, or give you more interesting things to do.

Give yourself a good start

  • home workGet homework organised. Make yourself a homework chart.  
    Ask mum or dad to check your work when you finish.  It's a good time to ask them questions, ask for some help, get school notes read and signed. It's not a good idea for them to do your homework for you, as you have to be able to do it for yourself at school. It's a great feeling to hand stuff in on time and know that you did your best. Then you can give yourself a big star for being BOSS OF THE HOMEWORK. (See our topic on Homework for some good ideas.)
  • Be on time for school. Going into a class that has already started is embarrassing. You have to rush about, you don't know what is happening and no one has time for a friendly word.
  • Get organised the night before. Pack your bag (with homework done), check what books you need, put in sports clothes or equipment, school notes and your lunch. Get your clothes ready to dive into the next day and have a shower or wash at night if you are a 'snail' in the mornings.
  • friendsArrange to go to school with a friend. Maybe mum could take you both sometimes and the friend's mum the other times. If you live near school you and your friend could walk together. You will have someone to talk to and a happy way to start your day.
  • Don't give yourself a hard time. It's so easy to say to yourself, "I'm no good at this" and "I can't do that." Think about all the things you can do and then say," I can't do that YET."
  • Try to do your best. Ask for help if you don't understand and learn as much as possible - even if it is something you are not interested in. You never know what will be useful later on.

Worried about home?

  • Know what mum is doing each day. If you worry about mum and find it hard to leave her maybe you could arrange to phone home at recess or lunch so that you can speak to her. (You may need permission from your teacher to use your mobile phone.) Maybe mum could come and help out at school, eg in the library or helping in your class, until you feel better about leaving her at home.
  • familyIf you are worried that something will go wrong when you aren't there, tell mum or dad or an aunt or uncle or another adult how you are feeling. You might be worried about something that is never going to happen and nobody makes you feel better because you haven't told anybody. Even if things are going wrong at your place talking about it will mean that people understand and can work out the best ways to help you to feel better when you are worried or scared.

Join in

  • Make friends with other kids. Our topic on Making friends can help you. You can have friends in other classes as well as your own. You might have a younger friend whom you can help in school time or in the playground.
  • Keep busy. Look around to see what clubs, activities and teams you might join. Practise some of the skills you will need before you join, then you'll feel more confident. Maybe someone older in your family may help you practise.

Missing out on school

  • Sometimes people are sick for a long time or are away from school on holiday (lucky ducks) - but some kids who are away for a long time don't feel so lucky. Believe it or not, they wish they could be at school and doing the same things as their friends.
  • If you are going to be away for a long time ask your teacher for some work to do while you are away. Perhaps she will also ask you to keep a diary or book of your trip or talk to the class about it when you come back. If you are sick for a long time you can exchange letters, e-mail and phone calls with your class or particular friends so that you still feel part of the school.
  • Sometimes kids live too far from a school so they learn at home - home-schooling or they take part in an on-line school. When they get to go to a school it may be hard at first getting used to being in a class, having a timetable and trying to fit into a group.

What some kids say

"I didn't go to school because I had a disease and it was spreading. I had half of the year off. I had to stay in bed all day. I played computer games and my friends came over to keep me company sometimes. I felt very lonely and I was glad when I got back to school."

No school today,
Feel sick.
Rather stay home alone
Asleep in bed.
Feel lonely,
Nothing to do,
Rather go to school

By Jacqui
not feeling well

"My dad has a job that keeps moving him around and we move too. It seems to get harder to go to a new school every year. Sometimes I wish that I could stay home, but I guess I've learned how to make friends and to fit in quickly every time we move."

"After dad left us I was scared to leave mum at home. I thought she might not be there when I got home and then there would be no-one to look after me."

"I was angry when I had to go to school and my little sister could stay home with mum. Sometimes I would pretend to be sick."

Dr Kim says

Dr kim"I was afraid to go to school for a time when I was little, and it took me a while to feel better. Now I know that lots of kids feel like that and most of them go on to do very well at school! You can too."


I didn't want to go to school
I didn't want to look a fool
Not good at games
Someone calling me names
Every day was bad
Always feeling sad.
I told the teacher and when I'd done
We worked things out and now it's fun!
(Well it is sometimes and it's getting better.)



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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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