Dear LA Teacher,
An LAUSD attendance counselor knocked on my door last week to let me know my daughter has been truant for her Grant High School classes ever since school started in August. What can a parent do to deal with her child’s deceit?
Dear Crying Mom,
In 2012 the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) had a graduation rate of 66.2. That means more than 33% of its senior class dropped out. Pointing the finger at teachers and administrators is the easy solution, but when that finger aims at you, it becomes extremely disconcerting.
The graduation rate could be a lot higher if parents like you did their job. So wipe away those tears and let’s get to work.
First, your child is probably disconnected from her family. You need to take out that soldering iron and fuse that child back into the arms of her loved ones. This can be done by quality time together. Take your child on shopping trips. Go to the park together and have chats. Take a get-away weekend together to Santa Barbara or San Diego. At home, eat dinners together with cell phones retired to a closed drawer and the TV set to off. Next, listen to your child without judgment; and ask the right questions. Instead of asking the obvious, “What are you doing all day when you don’t go to school?” ask, “When you are off campus, do you ever think about your future? Please share your thoughts.” Here’s another question to avoid, “Why don’t you attend school?” Instead ask, “You graduate in two years. What do you plan on doing with your life?”
Let your child talk from the heart as you keep your mouth closed and listen.
Listening and spending time together is the key, however, some discipline needs to be initiated. Let your teen know that you’ll be in close contact with the school. She may say, “Don’t you trust me?” To which you respond, “Trust needs to be earned.” Let her know if she is either absent or late one time, you’ll take the day off work and shadow her from one class to another. Kids do not want their parents following them around school!
If you listen to your child, build on your relationship, ask the right questions, and threaten school shadowing (following-up if need be) your teen’s truancy will be yesterday’s history.