It’s tough not seeing eye to eye with your teenager. Or maybe it’s more on the difference in priorities and timing. Either way, it can be seriously frustrating to hear these two words after a carefully crafted, well-intentioned discussion about getting serious in school:
It’s like a smack in the face for trying to help.
But the fact is, children need help, now more than ever. With rapidly changing learning needs and cookie-cutter education approaches in burgeoning classroom numbers— there’s no room for the individual student. More and more teenagers report feeling disconnected and uninterested in school is a rising issue. According to a 2023 report by the South Australian Government, only 43% of students feel engaged and care about their learning responsibilities, while the 57% majority are disengaged from Years 4 through 12. Another study confirms that student disengagement worsens as students progress through high school, with the most significant drop in engagement between Years 7 and 9.
Your child may be showing signs of disinterest or disengagement in different ways. Some children avoid school-related activities and attendance at all costs, while others are more subtle.
Regardless of how your child shows their disillusionment with school, recognising and tackling the root causes of their disengagement is critical to flipping the situation so they develop a genuine, self-owned engagement with their own learning and future.
The Disengagement Dilemma
A lot of parents point to constant distraction and disorganisation two as the main culprits. One of the most common things we hear at Kalibrate-Ed is when parents observe their kids can’t leave their devices alone or are constantly Snapchatting their friends instead of focusing on work. A close second is when students don’t plan out their assessment and leave things to the last possible second.
But these are just surface-level manifestations of a much more insidious problem: lack of genuine, student-owned engagement.
Student disengagement occurs when your child feels disconnected from their learning and purpose; they lose interest and motivation to care for their studies. Each child experiences disengagement differently. Overwhelming pressure, uncertainty about the future, and lack of clarity in their goal are common causes for disengagement. This unfortunate disposition can negatively impact your child, beyond their academic performance.
When teenagers become too overwhelmed and anxious about their workload, these negative feelings inevitably result in attempts to put more distance between them and their school responsibilities. It’s a natural reaction to things that don’t make us feel good and more often than not, this is done unconsciously. For example, the pressure of standardised, invigilated exams – whether under the HSC or IB – tends to weaken students’ results due to the pressure, anxiety and fear of demonstrating poor results. This then leads to deeper issues resulting in panic attacks, loss of confidence and low motivation.
These fears can also develop into complete avoidance of school. The NSW Department of Education reports that the average school attendance rate in NSW was 89.4% during the first term of 2023, below the 95% target rate. When children miss their attendance because of anxiety, they become more susceptible to falling behind, losing motivation, and dropping out of university in the future.
Mental Health Implications
Based on a 2023 report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, almost one in seven children aged 4–17 years are estimated to have experienced a mental illness in the past year. Mental health is a serious issue for young kids and teenagers alike, and losing interest in school can negatively impact their mental health.
Children may isolate themselves without interest in school-related activities and have trouble building positive experiences by connecting with their peers. They may also develop feelings of worthlessness because they’re disengaged and unproductive in school. Lastly, they may develop negative self-talk because of perceived shortcomings and failures. This damaging cycle can break their self-confidence and self-drive to put in more effort and do better in school.
As parents who are caring and invested in their child’s well-being, watching your kid undergo the stress and struggle of student disengagement is painful. That’s why it’s an absolute must to identify the root cause of your child’s disengagement at the earliest possible moment before it escalates to serious issues with lifelong ramifications that leave holes in their confidence, like dropping out of school or missing out on their ideal university course.
How We Can Help
At Kalibrate-Ed we tackle learning challenges, like disengagement, by looking beyond just the academic. Like many causes of student disengagement, we see diverse aspects to help your child make lasting behavioural changes and take charge of their learning experience on their terms.
Our team of expert education strategists creates a unique bridge for your child to reach their full potential, regardless of what keeps them from closing that gap. We want to listen to your child. What are their strengths? What are they afraid of? This tailored approach will help you and your child create a personalised strategy to get higher marks across subjects, handle stress and overwhelm, and develop essential cognitive functions, like staying focused and memory – things that traditional tutors are not trained or equipped to be able to provide.
With a personalised education program, disengaged children can:
- Increase their school engagement and develop a more positive outlook on learning.
- Improve their school attendance and get better exam results.
- Improve their relationships with teachers and peers.
- Increase their self-confidence and improve their emotional well-being.
- Decrease their likelihood of misbehaviour and suspensions.
Student disengagement may come in different forms. As hard as it is, parents bear the responsibility of being the advocate for change to help a child who is feeling disconnected from their learning, find a way to reignite that spark and reconnect with their learning again. But with the right intention and support, it can also be a beautiful opportunity to help your child realise what they’re capable of and build motivation to reach their own potential.
At Kalibrate-Ed, our comprehensive approach is committed to supporting parents and children in addressing these root causes for a better, more positive learning experience. We’re here to reignite children’s passion for learning and ensure they’re ready for a brighter future.