Best of the Web: School refusal on the rise, and more

Growing concern over school refusal, the powerful impact of dads doing story time, and how you can make sure sibling rivalry doesn't become harmful.

Our selection of thought-provoking and useful resources from around the web on educating and raising children, and supporting families.

Mental health issues described as 'key driver of non-attendance', as students stay away from schools

(Adam Langenberg, ABC News)

It’s a struggle for 14-year-old Nyx just to get to school, let alone enter in the classroom.

 ‘If they’re happy enough to, they sit outside the classroom so they can hear the lesson, but at present, they’re not even happy with that due to other students walking past and giving them grief for not being in class,’ says their mother.

This article tells the story of Nyx, a child who used to love school,  as part of a report on the growing problem of school refusal.

New data released by the Productivity Commission reveals that the number of children staying home from school, whether for mental health or illness, is rising.

In primary schools, the rate of attendance has dropped 4.5 per cent since 2021, while in secondary school, it’s fallen by 4.1 per cent.

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Do Dads Read Aloud Differently? And Why It's Important That Fathers Do Storytime

(Better Reading)

There are overwhelming benefits of reading to our children – but is there a difference whether it is mum or dad?

This article reports on research findings about the benefits associated with fathers reading to their children.

In this US study, fathers in low income families who read to their three-year-olds had a major impact on language development, while with mothers, the impact was not as significant.

Kids were more tuned in when dads read to them. ‘Reading is seen as a female activity and kids seem to be more tuned in when their dad reads to them – it’s special.’

This isn’t to say mothers shouldn’t be reading to their kids. It’s mothers who lay the groundwork for children’s language development,  says the article. And there is the cumulative benefit of more book reading by both parents and others in children’s lives.

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Sibling rivalry is normal — but is it helpful or harmful?

(Claire McCarthy, Harvard Health Publishing)

We know that rivalry between siblings is part of everyday family life. As this article notes, it can push children to do and be better.

But it’s also a question of how much. Too much squabbling and competition, writes the author, ‘can also be hurtful, and can have lasting effects on how children view themselves and their family relationships.’

So what can parents do to make sure the rivalry is helpful?

The article suggests a range of strategies, including parents avoiding comparisons between your children.

‘Every child is different, by definition. While comparisons are natural and inevitable, be careful not to compare in a way that makes one child seem better than the other.’ writes the author.

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