It can be said, without much fear of being contradicted, that a child is the best gift parents ever get during their life time. Many parents get excited and start planning and thinking about what the child should become after it grows up. In this atmosphere of excitement the process of growing up continues and by the time parents learn what is good for a six month old baby the child has become eight months old. This phenomenon goes on till the child is able to think for itself and knows what it wants (Green et al., 2001).
Truancy is defined as the willful abstaining from attending school or any compulsory instruction session. Truancy is not to be mistaken as simply being absent from school, even the child may go missing during a class. Any absence from attending classes without sufficient reasons for more than thirty minutes – three times in a year – renders the child to be classified as truant.
Factors leading to Truancy are many and these are spread across the family conditions, economic issues faced, learning atmosphere in the school and the condition (both physical and psychological condition of the child. While all factors are responsible, the school certainly plays a big role in whether the child becomes a truant.
This assignment is an attempt to collect the thoughts and expose the various aspect of a growing child together with suggesting what steps can be triggered at the school to ensure that the child grows up into a healthy adult. This paper will focus on the key activities to be initiated by the school authorities for ensuring that the growth of the child goes on without any hindrances.
The growing child is sent to school quite early in life. At school it is not in touch with its parents and thus is exposed to a different environment. It may take a liking for the school where there are other toddlers of its age or there may be instances where it may start disliking the school which may be due to a large variety of causes. The child may be habitually lonely and thus avoids the company of same age children or it may be that it is suffering from some ailments which prevent it from participating in play school activities (Downey, 2007).
Improving School culture to prevent truancy is a fundamental necessity. The teachers and staff members have to keep the development of the child uppermost in their minds. The teachers have to ensure that a congenial and friendly culture is evolved and implemented which would make attending school a very exciting and welcome experience for the child.
This paper, which is based on the writings of eminent authors on the subject, right in the beginning assumes that it is the duty of the school authorities to pinpoint the cause driving the child to abstain from attending school or become a truant. The tendency to stay away from school during a normal school session is the focus of attention.
As per literature available the process of child care has been split into various subjects like health care, psychological support, trauma care and various other aspects. Some authors find that such aberrant behavior on the part of the child is traceable to some traumatic experience which the child must have undergone earlier. In their paper titled ‘How Schools Can Help Students Recover from Traumatic Experiences’ authors Lisa H. Jaycox, Lindsey K. Morse, Terri Tanielian, Bradley D. Stein trace such behavior to some natural disasters. While on this a child may not need always a storm or flood to experience trauma. A simple flare up between the parents can cause trauma to the child. While the traumatic experience during such natural disasters are much more intense the effect of the parents always and incessantly quarreling and bickering can also make the child – which is very intelligent – to feel ignored, unwanted and lonely. The duty of the teacher who supervises the child in school is to understand and appreciate the reasons for the adverse effect which has taken place in the child. The staff of the school must take every care to ensure that the confidence level of the child is built up with due support and encouragement (Jaycox et al., 2006).
In their article titled “Evaluating the health promoting school: a case study approach’ authors Jo Inchley, Candice Currie and Ian Young have pointed out a very important aspect of such Health Promotion Schemes taken up in schools. The initial and basic intention of such schemes is to integrate three factor i.e. formal health education, informal school ethos and linkage with parents and guardians. With the growing public opinion there have been question raised on how effectively the health promotion schemes were being implemented. This has thrown up three areas of concern viz. does it reach the target group of children and are they effective in improving the health of the child and finally what needs to be done to make it more effective (Candice & Young, 2000).
There may also be another set of school avoiding children who are having health issues. Such children are very easy to identify since they would be desperately avoiding doing things which they know are not meant for them. Such activities include getting involved or participating in outdoor activities or avoiding any physical work or even taking part in indoor group activities. While there is no denial of the basic fact that they get reprimanded at home if they indulge in any physical activities the school authorities are now implementing health promotion schemes for improving the health of the toddlers. This is a very vital aspect since if the child grows up with a self concept of being sick and unable to participate in normal life then going will be very difficult during the middle and high school levels. The child has to be impressed that while the health promotion campaigns are in place to take care of all its health issues, it also has to step forward and cooperate with the school authorities for making him fit for normal life. Now the biggest issue in the implementing of the health promotion schemes at the toddlers’ level is that each child is different. The health promotion should not become a process of adoption of “One size fits all” and then go about treating all the children in a similar manner. The health support process for each child must be dovetailed to suit the child individually (Maton, 2000).
This is the background against which the teachers are pitted and they have to reorient their very basic concept of their jobs. They are not just imparting information and knowledge to the children. They have a much bigger and more vital role to play within the school. The teachers along with other members of the non teaching staff have a very difficult situation to handle. They have to understand and appreciate the each child is an individual and therefore individualized attention needs to be given to each and every child. The toddler may wail out for no apparent reason or may behave differently and such situations have to be handled with utmost care. The teacher must always be alert to read the signals sent out by the child. The child may create lot of noise just to draw attention of the teacher. If the teacher reacts very harshly – which is quite common – the child feels deprived of the love and affection that it seeks from the adults around it. The child gets into a care-giving relationship with the adults at home. So long they continue to receive love and affection from the adults around them they are assured of the support and come to consider themselves to be objects of love. They think of themselves as basically lovable and would thus interact with their surrounding with love, concern and care. The parents and elders at home do just this. The mother is ever present to attend to the child whenever it feels threatened. It is therefore the prime responsibility of the teachers to play the role of parents within the school environment. Whenever the child does anything good it has to be made known to it that his efforts have been very well appreciated. Again, if the child is out to do something wrong then it has to be patiently explained the problems that its actions have created for other people? When it hits anyone the child has to be explained that hitting anybody would hurt the person and he must not indulge in such activities (Dubois, 2001).
Some children are chronically sick and the teacher has to be very attentive to the needs of such children. Every detail about a child has to be documented in detail so that the progress it makes can be quantified at a later date. Thus the real implication is that the teachers and staff of schools must work with a new vision and orientation for generating confidence and comfort in the child.
Health Promotion in School and AASW practices are supposed to proceed in tandem which means that one should complement the other. The school based social worker is supposed to help and guide the faithful implementation of the Health Programs and the Health Program people will enrich their knowledge base of the health related issued leading to truancy. Thus they are not replacements of one another but these two are helping to improve one another. While the health programs focus on the health aspects the AASW encompass a much wider perspective.
It is easy to suggest that teachers must do this and do that. The first thing is to consider the teacher to student ratio prevalent in the societies. While in the economically advanced countries it may be possible to place five to six students under the care of one teacher but in the emerging and developing economies the ratio could be as high as thirty or forty students to a teacher.
Here onward it becomes an economical issue. Whether there are sufficient money to employ larger number of teachers and more number of qualified non teaching staff is a very difficult question to handle. However, the fact remains that the progress made by any child has to be documented more closely so that the future teachers are aware of their identities and can handle them with the care and concern due to it.
Candice, I. & Young, I., 2000. Evaluating the health promoting school: a case study approach. Health Education, 100(5), pp.200-06. [Accessed October 2016].
Downey, L., 2007. Understanding the experience of the abused and neglected child assists us to develop compassion, patience and empathy. It is a key intervention in itself. Melbourne: Child Safety Commissioner.
Dubois, N., 2001. Introduction to Health Promotion Program Planning. Toronto: THCU.
Green, R. et al., 2001. A survey of the health of Victorian primary school principals. The International Journal of Educational Management , 15(01), pp.23-30.
Jaycox, L., Morse, L., Tanielian, T. & Stein, B., 2006. How Schools Can Help Students Recover from Traumatic Experiences. Virgina: Rand.
Maton, K.I., 2000. Making a Difference: The Social Ecology of Social Transformation. American Journal of Community Psychology, 28(1), pp.25-56.
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