School Anxiety and School Refusal (Primary School)
School refusal or school anxiety can start for any number of reasons: it might be because your child is worried about school work, friends, bullying or bad things happening when they are not at home. It can even be triggered after a period of illness where your child has had to stay off school.
It is often hard for your child to express why they feel the way they do and they may be worried about telling you if it involves others, but it is important that they are encouraged to talk so you can make a plan together. While avoiding school is understandable if it causes anxiety, it becomes very hard to go back to school once you’ve been off for a while. Parents need to try and tread the very fine line between being sensitive to their child’s needs and worries (and not dismissing them) , while being aware that avoidance tends to make the problem worse. There are several places that you can look to help you manage your child’s anxiety, your own emotional needs and find some practical advice below.
See also the section on anxiety for some general resources.
The first place to turn to is your child’s school. Find out from the school who is the best person to talk to. It may be the Special Educational Needs worker (SENCO), the Headteacher, the class teacher or the Head of Year.
Advice for parents on anxiety and phobias in children, including advice on school phobia.
Problems at school
School related problems such as problems with friends, exam stress, homework and revision, moving schools, worrying about your future and more. Lots of really useful resources here for all age groups. https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/school-college-and-work/school-college/
Practical ways to help your child and how to involve your child’s school. There is also a video from the parent’s helpline team giving a good summary. Because school refusal is commoner in children who are experiencing other problems there are links to the dyspraxia and dyslexia society, autistic society and alternative schooling provision. Find it here
Ideas on how to talk with your child and the school and information on the legal aspects of school attendance - available here
How to help your child and look after your own needs. An Australian article but the advice is relevant for anyone.
School refusal- an article written for teachers which is useful to help you understand what schools can do to support you and your child. There is also a link to mood journals and a sample back to school plan. https://attendancemattersmagonline.co.uk/helping-children-over-come-school-refusal/
Refusing to go to school -Mumsnet discussion
Strategies that are adapted for children with autism
Overcoming School Refusal A practical guide for teachers, counsellors, caseworkers and parents by Joanne Garfi. Written by a psychologist who has spent 30 years helping children who school refusal, it is well indexed giving advice for parents and schools on how to tackle this issue. Available Here.
Getting Your Child to Say"Yes" to School · A Guide for Parents of Youth with School Refusal Behavior by Christopher Kearney. This is an American book, which has received good reviews from parents. It is aimed at parents and provides suggestions on how to help. Available Here.