Facebook provides many insights into people's parenting, their attitudes about children, and their relationships with their children. I previously wrote on this topic in my post "What your words say about you." Recently a mother posted that her child did not want to go to school. She admitted that the child did not like school and would do anything to stay home, including faking being sick. She was obviously frustrated and angry. Other mothers responded that they knew exactly how she felt. Some moms had rules like "If you are not vomiting, bleeding or have a fever you have to go to school." And one mom suggested that the frustrated mother make staying home worse than going to school. The moms lamented that they did not know when their children were telling the truth and that made them mad.
I understand how these mothers feel. When my girls were still attending school it was not uncommon for me to decide if they were well enough to go to school. There were times when I sent my girls to school even though they did not want to go. For at least one of my children this was damaging, and I am deeply sorry for the times I made her get on the school bus despite her tears. As parents we are inclined to give in to the power and control of the school system. We are made to think that it is our duty and responsibility to make our children go to school. We end up believing that it is in our children's best interest to get on that bus. We stop listening to our inner wisdom and we stop listening to our children.
The child mentioned above told the truth: She did not like school. She did not want to go to school. When her mother could not or would not hear that truth, the child did what she needed to do to get her needs met: she faked being sick. Then her mother got angry. There is a good chance that the mom's anger was stemming from her conflict between being a good mother and meeting her child's needs, and being the good mother the school system told her to be and sending her child to school. Perhaps she also needed to get to work and was feeling stress from that as well.
There are many reasons children do not like school. Not all of them are life threatening, but each of them needs to be taken seriously. As a parent it is your job to advocate for your children and make sure that their needs are being met. The school system is focused on test scores and managing behavior, not on making sure your children are having their needs met. Having spent six years volunteering in public school classrooms I can assure you that meeting the diverse needs of 25 children in one classroom is not possible. Living in a world where many children go to before and after school childcare, as well as spending over six hours a day in the classroom, very few children are getting even their most basic needs met. If your child is not one of the daycare kids, they are still in a classroom with children who spend up to twelve hours of their day in the care of someone other than their parents. The behaviors caused by the unmet needs of these children consume the time and energy of their teachers.
Home should be a refuge, to suggest that a parent make staying home worse than going to school is tragic. Home should be the safe place, the soft spot in a hard world, the place where a child knows they are safe, loved, cherished, listened to and respected. If you choose to make staying home worse than going to school there is a good chance you will not be seeing much of your children once they are old enough to choose where they spend their time. Not all children in our world have the luxury of a home that is a refuge. For some children school is their only safe place and for these children my heart aches.
If you have a child who does not want to go to school please find out why. Listen to your child. With teen suicides making the news on a disturbingly frequent basis it seems all the more urgent for each of us to connect with our children. If your child does not want to go to school there may be very serious reasons. Some parents do not find out what they were until they are reading their child's suicide note.
Please listen to your children. If your children are unhappy in the school system bring them home. There are many different ways to learn and there is a way that is a good fit for you and your children. If you need help finding options or resources please ask, I would be happy to help.
Remember that nothing is more important than your relationship with your child. That includes school.
For more reasons your child might not want to go to school read Peter Gray's article at Psychology Today, "Why Children Protest Going to School: More evolutionary mismatch."