Dr. Rich Patterson


Understanding Kids and Truancy – Part 1

Truancy has been a problem for schools for as long as schools in the United States.  Compulsory attendance, the lack of which equals truancy, can trace its beginnings to enforcing the mandatory attendance law in Massachusetts in 1642.  As you can see, for quite some time now, school officials have been working to understand kids’ behavior regarding truancy, and yet it is still with us.

There is no magic formula that will get kids to go to school, particularly if they don’t see the value or application of it in their lives.  In a three-part article, I have written on 12 Key understandings regarding kids and truancy.


  1. Learning problems in school that can be traced to early elementary years compound over the years, causing more and more frustration which eventually leads to the student lacking the skills in some classes even to make sense of it, thus choosing truancy.
  2. A lack of a stable family, whether it be within the parents’ control or something that is out of their control. Either way, there is no judgment here, just that relationships are essential for kids. If their relations with adults aren’t stable and dependable, they will substitute with what they can find, often making poor or uninformed choices leading to truancy and other bad habits.
  3. A lack of specific, attainable goals for the child. Have you heard the saying that the best time to plant a tree was yesterday?  Yesterday is also true with goals; the best time to start them is when kids are very young and have parents sit down to visualize something short that they can work at and attain victory.  Then doing it repeatedly, eventually adding some long-term goals.

I will continue this list in the next blog, so please join me in reading on, and be sure to leave me a comment on your thoughts and experience in working with kids and truancy.

Professor and students in a lecture hall

Here are the links to Parts II and III in this series on Understanding Kids and Truancy, Part II; Understanding Kids and Truancy-Part 2 – Dr. Rich Patterson (pattersonphd.com), and Part III; Understanding Kids and Truancy – Part 3 – Dr. Rich Patterson (pattersonphd.com)

If you have a truant child, then, as a parent, you must be familiar with the Truancy laws for your state.  Since I live in Colorado, here is the link for our state.  You can look up your form, CRS 22-33-104 – School Truancy Laws in Colorado (shouselaw.com)


Yours for Better Parenting,