What am I supposed to take to middle school

Don't feel like going to school - How do you get tired of school and refusal to go to school? - What can you do?

First of all: for a few of those affected, saying “no thanks” to the school can be an act of liberation. For some young people, the solution to an unbearable failure does not result in feelings of failure and depression, in isolation and self-punishment, in social marginalization, in drugs, in a lack of opportunities. No, this was a leap to a more authentic, more meaningful life beyond the regular lane that young people could and wanted to afford. This is more likely to succeed in bourgeois socialized, particularly strong, young people infected by a talent or passion. What is she wearing? They believe in themselves, they are ultimately purposeful and have personal and social means of achieving their goals in their own way. Familial and other social networks, abilities to avoid illegality or to outsmart instances of social control as well as own strengths distinguish these former students from the losers. But such “high-class dropouts” do not represent the breadth of school-weary boys and girls.

School-weary are different, are a colorful mixture of individual beings that you can hardly get under one roof. Occasional school fatigue is normal. Almost all children prefer to go to school sometimes and then again listlessly. But parents should think about the reasons for such mood swings and their own actions as early as possible. Because the more solidified the school fatigue is, the more difficult it is to soften it. The result is more about the hardened forms of school disaffection or even refusal to attend school.

Forms of school fatigue and school refusal

If the intensity of the inner distance and the extent of absence are used as structuring features, these stages and groups must be differentiated:

  • Noticeable with signs such as loss of motivation and lack of hours.
  • Vulnerablewho have already given up internally and may no longer come to school.
  • Disconnected / dropped out, a heterogeneous group for which extracurricular standards have become valid and whose self-concept is moving towards that of not being a student.

The majority of developments in the Slipping in, of drifting

  • of reluctance to go to school
  • to passive forms of inner disengagement (school fatigue)
  • about disturbance and punctual truancy (school disenchantment)
  • to solidified school aversion and school refusal

1. Displeasure, tiredness and disenchantment with school

include forms of inner emigration in the classroom, the shown reluctance to learn, the dosed non-fulfillment of teacher expectations. The following can be roughly distinguished:

  • Passive forms as a retreat or concealed refusal to teach (e.g. frequent refusal to pay attention due to “sleeping”, dreaming; arriving late; not having any work materials with you; not unpacking; not doing homework ... - possibly depending on subject, teacher, teacher action ...). A considerable number of “inconspicuously resigned people” can also be classified here.
  • Moderate “torpedoing” of teaching processes in the form of more frequent refusal to cooperate (making “nonsense”, “noise”, thinking up pranks ...).

2. The actionist school refusal

(open, other disruptive refusal to teach) can be characterized as an attack on school rules in class that go beyond “average” and sometimes disruptive and refusal to perform: frequent resistance to teacher expectations, overriding school rules and customs through action, frequent and strong Provocation of the teachers.

Increasingly, however, according to T., many varieties of teaching disorders can be observed which mean (rather undirected) the "apparatus" school: general restlessness, general lack of concentration, diffuse aggression. These variants are not so very personal decipherable and meant. The teacher is In young people's experience, the functionary made responsible for the situation experienced as unbearable, boring or senseless. In the context of disturbances, many types of emotions can arise: fun, joy, malice, anger, (compensatory) pleasure in annoyance, self-affirmation, experience of courage ... Here Substitute satisfaction is found for those experiences and feelings that can also arise in performance success, such as pride, meaning, experience of effectiveness and ability. According to R. Winkel, the most common messages of classroom disruptions are:

  • Lessons are boring.
  • I feel under or overburdened.
  • I find school pointless.
  • I want to be noticed, recognized, liked.
  • I want to be part of it.
  • I take revenge for unjust treatment.
  • Let's see how far I can go.
  • I want to offer my classmates something, entertain them.
  • I can't watch and join in until I'm clear with the outside world.

That sounds so clear. In everyday life, parents and teachers are no longer quite sure: Should they see resistant student behavior as a legitimate rebellion against senseless demands or simply as cheeky, as disadvantage and damage to the milieu, as school fatigue typical for development phases, as high-spirited schoolboy behavior, as an acceptable expression of joie de vivre?

3. Avoiding school refusal (severe truancy)

Irregular school attendance can range from the absence of individual hours and days to a longer absence and total disconnection. As the following designations reveal, the frequency and duration of non-excusable or unexcused non-participation in lessons form criteria for a differentiation into occasional truancy, regular truancy and massive / intensive truancy.

4. The concept of total drop-out (classic: dropping out of school)

means a more rationally calculated farewell from school after a comparatively sober analysis with the subjective result of meaninglessness and lack of chances through further participation.

Overall, the undoubtedly ambiguous numbers from scattered studies indicate a considerable school-related dilemma of meaning, acceptance and integration in a significant minority. On average, the trends are: 15% of students are consistently tired of school. The majority of those at risk of dropping out are 14 or 15 years old. Active school refusal begins around the age of twelve. At secondary schools and special schools - distributed very differently from region to region - an average of between 10 and 20% miss several hours a week without excuse. The number of frequently and aggressively disruptive class refusals in these types of schools could be 10, 20 or 30% nationwide - depending on how “offensive class refusal” is defined.

More than 80,000 pupils, i.e. more than 9% of an age group, leave schools in Germany every year without a qualification. 35,000 of them come from special schools. Less than half of the total group catches up for the qualification outside of school. The risk of unemployment among young people without a degree is more than seven times higher than that of university graduates. Social integration and participation through gainful employment are highly endangered by failure of the school career.

Characteristics in the primary school area

Symptoms of school fatigue show up at the latest from the age of about eight. Fears of and in school play a bigger role in primary school. Sick notes and apologies from parents have a concealing effect. Early signals in elementary school are:

  • impaired teacher-student relationship
  • Delays
  • Teaching disruptions
  • failure at school, excessive demands at school, bad grades, failure to move up;
  • prolonged absence from minor illnesses; frequent absence due to unspecific and poorly defined illnesses (stomach ache, headache ...) or absence after the weekend
  • social isolation in class
  • satisfactory or meaningful contacts with other school-distant students
  • Passivity in class, no participation
  • Joylessness, dejection of the child
  • social and communicative evasive behavior
  • insufficient or no homework preparation
  • Parents do not come to the consultation, are difficult to reach, block contact
  • Siblings do not go to school regularly or without success

The reasons and motives for school-distant behavior in primary schools are different. Often there are problems in the family. The children are left to fend for themselves at an early stage. You experience too little support in the home for school matters. Quite a few parents experience inhibitions towards school. Many students have difficulties finding their way around in the large group of class and taking a safe place there. A special, so far underestimated problem group is made up of pupils who have been transferred for educational reasons, but who then lose touch and give up demotivated without additional, intensive learning support. Some schoolchildren who are distant from school do not cope with the transition from elementary to orientation and especially secondary school and do not arrive internally and then visibly in secondary school.

Characteristics in the secondary school area - differentiation into three subgroups

To simplify matters, I would like to refer to three larger groups that have great difficulties with school. To the a group The majority belong to boys who are conspicuous long before they are absent from class, who are disturbing and who have poor academic achievements. They mainly attend school to meet their peers. They spend their free time with friends in the city and get into more and more trouble until they are known to the police. Since the school successes fail more and more, they no longer go to class and build up an alternative day structure in addition to the school morning.

To a second group predominantly belong to girls, but increasingly also to boys. Here, too, the school distancing begins with individual hours and days of absenteeism. In contrast to the first group, however, they are only slightly noticeable when they go to school. Most of the time, to the astonishment of the teachers, they are able to achieve acceptable results when they attend school, even in spite of large absenteeism. Some of these girls and boys also meet up with friends in the city, but many loiter the time somewhere so that nobody notices that they haven't been to school or they stay in bed straight away. Due to the large absenteeism, they no longer feel integrated into the class. They are afraid of embarrassing themselves with poor performance and wrong answers and eventually give up trying to go back to school. These young people express their desire to obtain a secondary school leaving certificate and to undertake vocational training. For a long time many people refuse any help and claim that they will be able to return to school “from tomorrow” on their own.

To third group belong to students who are victims of violence and threats, but also everyday humiliation and staged embarrassment. It is the classmates who exclude them and make life and learning in class a torture for them. Many of these children and adolescents already have no appetite in the morning, have headaches and stomach pains, keep choosing new “illogical” ways to school, sleep restlessly, protect themselves from passivity and isolation, and stay away. Often these girls and especially boys, who are almost always same-sex threatened, bullied, embarrassed, are blocked from confiding in themselves or they get lost in the everyday hustle and bustle of school.
All groups show: Dramatically endangered are students

  • who lack ties to teachers and classmates and who are appropriately integrated into a prosocial class and school life,
  • who do not actively participate in school and do not benefit from school,
  • who subsequently do not believe in the personal benefit of school.

Background and conditions - the structure for school fatigue

The isolable cause of school fatigue and school refusal, which “strikes like lightning” in individual cases, is rare. School fatigue as an overall phenomenon that encompasses individual cases is characterized by a large number of conditioning, triggering and reinforcing factors. Individual variables are almost always influenced by a large number of others. Mutual stratification and reinforcement are effective. Whether from reluctance to go to school and then even refusal to go to school is decided in the sum, but above all by potentiating events and their consequences. No school weary is like the other: in terms of the backgrounds and motifs, the processes, the self-experience, the accessibility. Viewed from a distance, severe school fatigue is usually the result of a long journey of slipping into it with possible turning points, in the creation of which several systems are involved. The question of whether the main responsibility is to be found in school or in the family does not lead any further in this generality. The end point, the solidification stage of school refusal is a phenomenon that always has to do with school, but can only rarely be explained by school processes alone. In other words: The location of problems is not always and necessarily identical to the area where they arise. Essentially, the school distance can be five central areas of origin lead back:

1. Often, school distancing is the end product of a demoralizing school career with poor performance, grade repetition, obsolescence, exclusion from lessons, and demotion. If something unpleasant happens to a person repeatedly, he will want to stop the source of these experiences: either solve the problem, or, if this does not succeed,

a) avoid the situation or

b) "destroy" and / or

c) the ability to give the result a cognitive-motivational new meaning (reevaluate; devalue) or

d) Compensation, seeking compensation.

2. Socio-culturally certain life situations often do not match the school requirements. There are no bridges between the outside world and the school world.

3. It is not uncommon for the desire to successfully attend school regularly to collide with family relationships. School distance is then the expression and consequence of dysfunctional day-to-day structures and debilitating parental models, overwhelming distribution of roles, functional failures in the family or “only” in principle temporary, unexpected critical life events such as divorce, unemployment, serious illnesses in the family.

4. Sometimes the young people want to counter-identify with their parents to produce and demonstrate stubbornness. Here, strong aversion to school in one's own experience is a “liberation” against experienced constriction (“replacement crises”) or against permanent excessive demands due to the choice of the wrong type of school.

In individual cases, school dissociation can also be the unfortunate result of a chain, which began with clear, almost normal, solvable conflicts and not particularly serious problems. These were not processed successfully.

Not all burdened fail. Even severely disabled young people can conquer circumstances, take control of action, and rise above limitations. Proven Protective factors are:

  • Adults who encourage
  • Stability, continuity in care (at least one predictable reference person)
  • someone who values ​​and supports school success over the long term
  • Friends who are committed to school
  • constructive, satisfying, challenging leisure interests
  • regular attendance at school
  • Language and reading skills

Young people are rightly asked how they explain their disengagement. Hardly any school weary would, for example, name their parents and the family situation as the cause. Just as seldom a reading and spelling weakness would be named as a reason, even if this may be serious. Occasions, less complex and preconscious backgrounds are often mentioned. As already mentioned, there is no burden on one's own parents when faced with teachers. Such topics are perceived by the young people as “no bother”, boredom or even as a relationship problem with teachers. Young people self-disclosures are to be taken seriously.Many young people know what they are missing and what they need, especially when they interpret the school-related situation. But this clarity only affects one side of the medal; other backgrounds and motifs have to be discovered, read out, tapped.

The following tendency has been proven in the attribution of the causes of school problems: teachers speak responsibly to parents and students, parents to school and / or the child, young people to school and seducers of the same age. Unilateral recognition of responsibility will usually lead to the black peter debt card being passed on: from pupil to teacher to youth welfare office to educator to parents to pupil ... Attempts at explanations that help further establish relationships and interactions: between school and family and individuals and cliques ... or between past and present and future ... or between performance, self-worth, coping skills and social popularity ...

The importance of the family

It is not uncommon for mothers and fathers in need to be behind school wearies. From this point of view, school fatigue is Follow-up symptom, rather an effect of family-related life and development difficulties. Individual investigations of severe school refusal show that over-randomly often encountered in refusal contexts are psychosocial problems such as the loss of parental caregivers

  • their separation,
  • Death or incarceration,
  • mental parental problems,
  • Rhythm disturbances in the daily structuring,
  • inappropriate involvement of children in home care,
  • sexual abuse,
  • Victim of domestic violence and family addiction.

Just an illustrative number: when it comes to truancy, there is only a slight plus for children from single parent families. However, the negative beneficiary relationship increases three to five times as much in the case of regular and intensive truancy (see e.g. Puhr et al.2001).

Valid results on the relationship between parenting styles and school fatigue are not available. However, the following problems arise in many individual cases:

  • parental control weaknesses;
  • Failure of support for children;
  • Lack of orientation due to unfavorable setting of boundaries;
  • educationally deprived parent models.

Parenting styles that are hindering in the external assessment include:

  • helpless trivialization of school failures and frustrations with "unintentional" laissez-faire elements;
  • Total acquittal of one´s own children with blame at school;
  • Gaps in authority up to role reversal;
  • severe discontinuity and unpredictability in parental behavior
  • and - last but not least - a somewhat less empathetic, restrictive style of upbringing characterized above all by exertion of pressure.

Findings indicate that parental interest, emotional and practical support and control as well as good family cohesion interact positively with attendance, school success and school satisfaction of the children.

Social problems in the parental home encourage school fatigue. However, there are also children who are tired of school in intact families or in families that are not disadvantaged. But in the majority of cases, school fatigue does not fall from the happy family horizon. It has been proven that the parents' negative school experiences and the resulting ambiguity towards school are high risk. School-distanced attitudes of the parents, parental helplessness, family living conditions that are difficult to reconcile with school requirements are the broad background topic. However, school tiredness and refusal to go to school also develop from time to time as a result of overadaptation of parents to school in rigid, ambitious families. There the secret exchange formula "notes against acceptance and love" rules. In the course of constant (over) pressure, there may be dramatic break-away crises with truancy as a leading or secondary symptom, differently: as a weapon against particularly sore parental areas.

What can you do?

Better and worse opportunities for educational action

Good chances exist for pedagogical action in case of truancy, if

  • used quickly and early (to prevent solidification through self-reinforcement);
  • the truancy is primarily for school reasons;
  • Truancy can be interpreted as a clear reaction to a definable problem, even a deliberate “punitive” intention against parents or teachers can be inferred;
  • there is a positive attitude in the class towards school attendance and can be linked to social relationships in the study group;
  • Parents experience truancy as a problem;
  • Establishing contact - taking time, patience, listening - is not generally rejected by young people and the ability to establish relationships is not fundamentally impaired.

When devising pedagogical strategies, one must bear in mind: Attention, context! With its possibilities and partly / largely unchangeable conditions, the location shapes pedagogical action. Contexts such as family, youth welfare office, secondary or special school, home, youth center, advice center, etc. are characterized by very different everyday factors, purposes and tasks. Solution approaches from one side are purely and totally never good for the other system. Awareness of differences without a refusal to cooperate is indicated.

More difficult it will when at solidified School distancing

  • Truancy cannot be deciphered as a reaction, but occurs with resigned or even “life-negating” pull;
  • the young people “don't care about anything” in their experience;
  • the family is difficult to involve and even “semi-consciously sympathizes” with the child's behavior;
  • Young people have no “anchor” in the class community;
  • contact with school has been completely broken and in the wake of alternative spheres of activity (partner; earning money; drugs; street ...) positive experiences occur "instead of school";
  • Significant problems with role expectations in institutions arose in early childhood;
  • a decoupled value system has emerged into which not walking is integrated;
  • existential needs (security, belonging, being wanted ...) are not satisfied;
  • young people see only costs and no profit / no point in a change.

Decision-making question: responsibility

First of all: react as soon as possible. Even a few undiscovered days of truancy or neglectful truancy by school and parents can make it very difficult for young people to return to work. At the beginning it has to be clarified: Who is going to join? Do you decide based on the quality of the relationship (i.e. who has the best access to the young person) or based on formal responsibility? In addition to parents (without them it is bad!), The following are possible: Class teachers, subject teachers, school principals, counseling teachers, external youth welfare workers, school social workers, school psychology specialists. Either different people take on different tasks (then you need someone who coordinates and “holds the thread”) or a key person takes on the main responsibility.

Research and understand what's going on

Do not react spontaneously and affectively to irregular school attendance, but first make yourself aware of the emotions (anger, satisfaction, helplessness, worry ...) that truant triggers in you. After that, try to rationally penetrate what is the case. Understanding includes clarifying what, why and what for (what does the student want to achieve or avoid?). The first steps are:

Clarification of the facts through "data collection" (frequency, type, duration, phase, acute tendency of irregular school attendance, school difficulties ... to find out).
Talking to the young person (it may be necessary to go afterwards).
Direct, immediate contact between teacher and parents; Determination of the respective level of knowledge as well as the attitudes, the understanding of the problem and already carried out support and counteraction activities.

The gathering provides information on the following questions:

  • How long have you been skipping?
  • What is the current situation?
  • What subsequent problems arise (performance, social contacts, break with parents ...)?
  • What is the meaning of the behavior (why?, For what?), "What is behind it?" (In the fields of school, family, peers ...).

The motifs and backgrounds can certainly be determined more precisely. For example:

  • Overwork in the family (head and heart are not free for learning),
  • Fear (of failure, bad censorship, shame, exclusion, showing oneself in class ...),
  • unresolved conflicts with classmates (e.g. truant as victims),
  • unresolved conflicts with teachers, with consequences such as fear, protest, "punishment" of teachers,
  • Clique pull and recognition search for peers,
  • “No way” through failures and loss of meaning, etc.

The structure of understanding and the resulting action plan should be:

  1. Description of the problem: e.g. duration and intensity of irregular school attendance, forms and situations
  2. Contexts: Characteristics of the boy's / girl's life situation
  3. Building hypotheses
    • Intentions, goals, motives (subject side, inner world)
    • Background, causes (external influences)
  4. Research requirement: additional information, other parties involved ...
  5. Change of perspective and self-interpretation: What does the young person say (typical sentences)?
  6. Strengths: resources, skills, small passions
  7. Objectives of the various parties involved
  8. Investigation of previous solutions: What has been tried so far with which effects? (Proven; Partly Proven; Failed)
  9. Decision on a solution package that determines the contributions of the parties involved
  10. Precise specification of the implementation steps

Ideas for interventions before the solidification of school fatigue / truancy

Which interventions you choose depends on the backgrounds and motives in the particular case. The decisive factors for effectiveness are interest and attention, including them, and working out ways of doing things with one another. Depending on the individual story, motives, reasons, and circumstances, forms of pressure and pressure - embedded in support offers - can ultimately be helpful.

The following approaches in Cooperation between school and parents have proven themselves:

  • Reward attendance and increase individual satisfaction with school attendance, e.g. through
    • a partial reduction in performance requirements and the creation of a sense of achievement;
    • a promotion of tension-free student relationships;
    • social reinforcement in school for tasks fulfilled;
    • frequent and open discussions, e.g. about the design of the lesson.

In general, it is important to pay attention to the young person and to convey to them that they are important.

  • Reduce satisfaction with truancy / disrupt absence
    • immediate home visits;
    • Delivery of work orders in the event of illness;
    • School sponsorships (“pick-up service”, inquiring phone calls and visits);
    • parental delivery to school, parental sanctions for refusal.
  • Arriving at school after absenteeism and reintegration (when returning after a long absence, changing school and class) is positive. That can be done through
    • Investigation of failure experiences;
    • Determination of the ideas, the wishes of the young people;
    • careful preparation and designed admission processes into the class;
    • Students and responsible teachers as “guides”.

Adults should convey that the young people are accepted as a person (even if their behavior is criticized), that the teachers are concerned and that the new start should be a real fresh start. The statements of the returnees are to be taken seriously. It is important that any fears of the students, malicious remarks, rejection etc. on return. to learn not to enter.

  • Make arrangements. Contracts only have meaning for everyone if everyone can accommodate their own goals and wishes. Agreements strengthen personal responsibility. Advantages are:
    • Young people are taken seriously as negotiating partners.
    • The complexity of the problem can be taken into account through an individual form of a contract.
    • The self-control ability of the young person is addressed.
    • The time required is manageable.

Criteria for good contracts are:

  • temporally manageable,
  • understandable in terms of content,
  • clear and concrete,
  • clear and achievable consequences,
  • Principle of bilateralism, rights and obligations for both sides,
  • Negotiation character,
  • achievable objectives,
  • Statements about control,
  • Query and documentation of support requests,
  • Ritualization of the conclusion of the contract.

A simple example:

  1. K. sets himself the goal of ...
  2. K. has the right ...
  3. K. has the duty ...
  4. After ... an interim evaluation takes place.
  5. If K. has achieved his goal, he can ...

However, success depends on two prerequisites: On the one hand, the student must also be able to contract, i.e. be able to keep agreements or at least want to learn to do so on such occasions. On the other hand, he / she has to accept the purpose of the school. This may become more possible if the contact provides information about strengths and interests to be considered and / or the conflict involved in the truancy or the problem behind it can be thoroughly resolved.

A small funding plan

  1. What strengths, skills, and knowledge does X have? (a. general, b. school, c. social behavior, d. self-expressed interests, preferences)
  2. What activities does X like to do, what does he / she do with resistance, where does he / she get out? (Selected areas)
  3. Which school deficits need to be remedied quickly (how, who with whom, when)?
  4. Which problems in social behavior need to be dealt with urgently (how, who with whom, when)?
  5. Which promotional activities and action strategies will be used in the future? E.g .: What responsibility can X be given?
  6. What other help must be given?
  7. Which problem does X currently want to solve itself?
  • Close contact between parents and school. Round table with parents and young people, giving him / her responsibility and direction and having solutions produced by them.
  • Show personal reaction - this can mean a lot besides threatening, moralizing and reacting offended: caring and chasing after, increasing attention, increasing attention through small signals, expressing importance, expressing concern ...
  • Call in the head teacher as a support person (in the case of exceptions to the rule, the school management will contact you directly: “You didn't bother us today!”; “You weren't kicked out today!”; “You are on time!”; “You are there! ”).
  • Perhaps teachers are also interested in unusual ideas? One could
    • surprise the young person with a letter;
    • ask the class or the young person for advice on what the teacher can do to support them;
    • Go to the student in the morning and make friendly contact;
    • take five appreciative messages to the young person for the coming week;
    • wish each other something from each other and briefly “celebrate” the later realization;
    • sometimes call the mother / father in the positive case;
    • Before the lesson ask: "What is your stress level between 0 and 10?" ; "What should I do today / should I not do it so that we can get through the day without an 'accident'?" .
  • And don't forget: Follow up! Keep an eye on the young person even when the first improvements occur. Find and provide feedback over a limited period of time.

School fatigue / refusal and parents

Often, in overcoming resignation, parental benevolence and interest in the children have to be re-mobilized. The basic assumption that all parents want to be good parents is helpful. Working with families is reported as successful when it succeeds in arousing the parents' pride in their child and initiating a positive spiral. Successful strategies or directions of work can be (primarily moderating third parties are addressed here):

  • Inquire about parental attribution of causes for upbringing and school problems.
  • Establish direct communication between parents and young people.
  • Clarify in discussions how to deal with the children's school problems - also talk about parental feelings, their intentions, the real effects.
  • Find parental resources.
  • Create transparency with regard to parental school history.
  • Carefully investigate conflicts related to school.
  • Strengthen parents in contact with the school in the sense of helping them to help themselves.
  • Encourage parents to take responsibility and not give up.
  • Expand parental perspectives on the boy / girl (away from the symptom and deficit fixation).
  • Support parents in the development of coping options for their stressful situations and questions of upbringing (expansion of skills).

Once again it is clear: If you, as parents, have lost the thread of conversation with your son or daughter (you notice whether this is more than a regular separation limit ?!), get help from moderation. It is good when an impartial third party is given permission to bring parents and their children out of the trenches of hardening, demands and accusations back into face-to-face conversation.

Helpful conversations (with the young person)

Establishing a conversation

A cooperative conversation goes through these stages:

  1. Preparation (clarify your own goals; consider the state of the other; delete either-or solutions in your head)
  2. Initiate conversation, establish contact (pick up the other by establishing level and wavelength as well as finding an appropriate closeness / distance); Affirm ("It's good that we talk now!" Or similar)
  3. Deepening / understanding the problem: getting to know the other person's point of view (allow students to see); Finding a central topic and feeling feelings in the process: fear, anger, shame, excessive demands etc Looking for goalsAt least part of the student personality must be brought to an opening, a “yes” attitude, an inner authorization (“The father, the mother, the teacher means well! He likes me. He is allowed to.”). In the majority of cases, students can basically name the problems. However, this is not always "the whole truth". Only if you understand the young person better than they do themselves in some situations, if you discover something behind the facades and symptoms, and if you accordingly have something meaningful to say that is audible and acceptable, will the young person develop respect, trust and hope scoop. On the part of the young person, successfully “going through” the first three steps could lead to thoughts like: “Here a teacher is interested in me. My mother doesn't give up, doesn't let me down. Someone here understands my problems. The / she can think outside the box. Ms. / Mr. X cannot be wrapped up, she can see through. He believes in me. "
  4. Looking for alternative solutions (brainstorming; discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of solutions; evaluation of the solutions according to student criteria, factual appropriateness, communicability to the outside world, etc.; decision)
  5. Draw up an action plan: discuss as concretely and precisely what the new behavior should look like; Check implementation; Playing through situations in your mind; Anticipate implementation difficulties; Identify help; Discuss the consequences
  6. Brief evaluation, thanks, ritualization (by handshake, agreement, closing formula); if necessary, appointments for control

Examples of questions

The following questions can be useful for enlightening discussions with young people:

  • How do you like your school days so far?
  • Which subjects do you like and which don't?
  • Which teachers do you get along with? What do you like about them?
  • Which teachers do you have conflicts with?
  • What are your current problems overall? What do you think is the problem? Or is there no problem at all?
  • Have teachers embarrassed you in front of the class?
  • Can you accept that the teachers are in charge of the school?
  • Are you afraid of performance assessments?
  • Do you have friends at this school?
  • Are you accepted by classmates in the school?
  • Do classmates at school annoy or threaten you?
  • Have you always been different from the others?
  • Do you think it's good to skip? If so, what do you enjoy about it?
  • Do your parents regularly ask how things are going at school?
  • Have you tried hard at school so far?
  • How exactly does a day go with school and how does it go without school? What is going through your head, how do you feel: on your way to school, when you stay in bed, with your alternative activities, when you fall asleep, when you sum up?
  • Who do you blame? From your point of view, have you made mistakes?
  • What problems have you already solved? How?
  • What would an optimal day with school look like?
  • What do you want from teachers, parents, classmates? What tips can you give your teachers?
  • What could you contribute to the solution? Who could support you?
  • What would be the disadvantages if you decided to go to school regularly from now on?

(Please do not ask all questions one after the other. Find suitable accesses.)

Final pedagogical theses1

  1. First of all, the understanding of the motive or the motives is the alpha and omega. A school victim of their peers needs something different than a school-frustrated “no bother” adolescent, a sexually abused child something different from the unsolicited schoolchild with special talent. However, non-prejudiced conversations between adults and students always strengthen the relationship by increasing interest and affection. Background and history, ideas for solutions and obstacles must be clarified with the young person himself. Accepting, listening-accompanying conversations (on a relationship basis!) Could be effective.
  2. Schematic action is counterproductive. Support, confrontational counteraction, control and follow-up are to be designed and mixed on a case-by-case basis. Certain solutions work for some and not for others. Education is never free of risks and side effects. And in a life situation there is never only one suitable help.
  3. Every behavior of a person - including truancy, for example - makes sense from the point of view of the individual: Annoying things can be warded off, self-esteem protected, threatening things avoided, etc. If you want to change a behavior, try to understand first: What is the individual purpose and the gain ? The search for “good reasons” is central. How do young people benefit from going to school and exerting themselves there? Is it only a gain from an adult point of view or also from theirs? Are there any compensation for hardship? It is more useful than looking for a cause (“why”) to ask the “why” question in order to get to know the motives and goals, the (supposed) positive consequences of the young person. Striving for recognition and preservation of self-worth, desires for security, belonging and meaningful life are likely to be important factors in the network of motives, even for school-weary ones. Also consider: What do the students have to give up or what internal resistance would they have to go through in order to be able to adhere to what you demand?
  4. Ask yourself how much coverage your claim or request has at the moment and how you can involve other systems (teachers, class, parents, school management, friends, etc.). Whenever possible, try to involve other forces and not least the student in the formulation and negotiation of goals, requirements and sanctions. If your demand stands on many legs, it is less easy to change it.
  5. Young people initially want to enforce their ideas one-sidedly and not be annoyed by their parents. But at the same time they also need people they can rub themselves against, who resist in a way without the young people losing face. Pampering, constantly citing extenuating circumstances, and tolerating excuses reduce respect. Young people also need honest feedback, clear expectations and clear standards of quality. Upbringing is not designed to ensure that all of this is implemented one-to-one in young people's behavior. Parents and young people cannot be spared arguments. Conflicts can slip away, humiliate children or they can promote development. Violent arguments with mother or father help the young person, for example, to feel like an independent counterpart with their own will or to experience the importance of the thing and the person. What makes an effort can be good for the boy or the girl, even if the situation is unpleasant for both of them! The headline and message of an approach are decisive, even if the young person does not like the behavior of the parents. If the attitude is right and there is a relationship, it can also be unreasonable.
  6. Be and stay present as an adult (teacher, mother, father, uncle, brother ...): I do not give up, do not submit, do not allow myself to be shaken off as long as there is a spark of hope that "no fool" is not everything. There is something else besides the opposite side that draws X to school ?! Your adult strength is shown by being “there” physically, emotionally, and morally. Endless talking without consequences, preaching, empty threats, however, are exhausted in the often inconsequential always-the-same. Expecting yourself to be very personal, persistently looking into other possibilities, even intrusive not giving up, all mean wanting to come into contact with the young person - be it in a strange way or in unorthodox places. Examples of this are symbolic activities such as “tailing” the tail; Constant ringing of the doorbell at the daughter's friend to disrupt a comfortable sleep; “Sit-ins” in the truancy room to insist on new arrangements. In addition to understanding what is going on (1) and providing practical support (2), it is important to have a very personal parental activity (3). That can be the unexpected action with moments of surprise to interrupt unproductive relationship patterns (do something different!). And that must also be the promised consequence, the determined parental action (implement what you announce!). The key message is: Present Parents seek contact, touch. School-weary children should also feel that the door is open to their parents. Overall, there is no need to hope for a patentable miracle or a mega method. It is probably a decisive factor (at least in retrospect, the boys and girls will honor that!) That there is a struggle for a young person and, above all, with him, and that he experiences it that way.
  7. Support the very personal search for meaning and the modeling of goals and visions of the future! You have to believe in potential, otherwise you will find neither access nor confidence to help. Just as important is the cool look: What is realistically (not) indicated based on the living conditions, the level of development, the intensity of the workload? Flat-rate appeals for performance and effort are harmful.
  8. A “program” against tiredness and absence and for the success of the student role only makes sense if the young person remains or becomes an actor in their own development. Do not take away from the child what they could do themselves.
  9. Nobody opens up or allows himself to be guided by someone who he believes wants to harm you.
  10. Those who keep an inner connection to their own youth and their own school days are not so easily drawn into the maelstrom of misunderstanding, accusations, and blind exertion of pressure when children have school problems.

School fatigue and school refusal arise in different places, appear in different places and have to be dealt with in different places. Neither parents nor school will get very far on their own in the case of school fatigue and even solidified school refusal. And a certain failure rate in such tough cases cannot be avoided even with the best possible combination of efforts.

Some golden rulesthat could increase alternative courses of action are:

  1. First, try to stabilize yourself.
  2. As parents and as an affected young person, speak to other people you trust.
  3. Take a look and see what's going on! The following should apply: Away with blame and accusations. Neither self-tearing nor denial can open the way.
  4. Waiting makes problems worse and stabilizes vicious circles.
  5. Work together. In principle, school and parental home are indispensable partners.
  6. Sometimes friends and club mates of the young person, acquaintances and relatives can also make a difference in the young person.
  7. Further possible contact persons can be: the school office, the school psychological services, special educational support centers, the local youth welfare office, educational and family counseling centers, a youth counseling service, child and youth psychiatric service, doctors, resident therapists and, ultimately, career advisors from the employment office.
  8. Pulling together all those involved and the activating participation of the young person in the solution are prerequisites for possible success.


1) I owe valuable suggestions to Prof. Dr. Mathias Schwabe from the Protestant University of Applied Sciences for Social Work in Berlin.


  • Keller, Gustav (1999): School difficulties - what to do ?, Wiebelsheim, Quelle and Meyer Verlag.
  • Puhr, Kirsten and others (2001): Pedagogical-psychological analyzes of school absenteeism, Halle, druck-zuck-Verlag
  • Simon, Titus & Uhlig, Steffen (eds.) (2002): School refusal, Opladen, Leske and Budrich
  • Thimm, Karlheinz (2000): School refusal, Münster, Beltz-Votum Verlag


Prof. Dr. Karlheinz Thimm, Evangelical University of Berlin