The media suggests children hate school. However, 60% of children enjoy school. The remaining 40% are either indifferent or completely miserable. This post highlights 5 reasons children hate school and what can be done to change this.
1. Liking School Isn't Cool
With characters such as Bart Simpson, the media has drummed it into children that liking school isn't cool and only "nerds" like school. Some children are even targeted, teased and bullied for doing well at school. This may cause children to deliberately slack in order to maintain social status on the playground. This isn't helped by celebrities who are successful and praised not for their intelligence or academic abilities but for absolutely anything else.
Solution: Surround them with successful people who did well at school. Children love being around successful people. Children love role models. If you can't get them around your children then talk about them. Highlight how school has helped them to achieve their personal and professional goals. Make sure you celebrate your child's successes at school, be specific about why you are celebrating.
2. Incompatible Learning Styles
Some schools and teachers still use 'lecture type' teaching methods. This is when the teacher stands in front of the class and talks, students are then told to complete worksheets based on what the teacher said. This works well for 33% of children, those who are auditory learners, but for the remaining 67% which includes those who learn through seeing, doing, and being inquisitive, this is an unfair challenge. Children, especially boys, learn through active and experimental styles but schools often instruct them to not 'touch' anything.
Solution: Provide a variety of learning opportunities. Whenever possible, provide an object to work with to solve problems. Allow your child to investigate their own interests. Do they love machines? Give them a telephone to take apart to see how it works. Do they like buildings? Take them to a construction site. Do they like cars? Take them to your local garage or show them what your car's engine looks like. These kinds of experiences which are unrelated to school help because they provide your child with background knowledge which they can relate to in lessons. Don't rely on the school to provide your child their whole learning experience.
3. It's too hard
Academic pressure on children is increasing year by year. Every generation always thinks what they were learning at school is much harder than what is currently being taught. This means there is always someone out there who thinks your child isn't working hard enough for their age. Children develop skills at different paces and times, some take longer than others but it doesn't mean they won't get there in the end. How often is your child expected to do things that is beyond their abilities? In small doses, this provides challenge but on a continuous basis, this is stressful and frustrating, this causes many children to conclude that they are not good at school and that school just isn't for them.
Solution: Talk with your child's school and teachers and ask them what level they think your child is working at, a lot of children are placed in the wrong sets. If your child is unhappy at school, ask for some changes to be made in the teachers that are working with your child and also the ability level. This might look like a step backward at first but will benefit your child in the long term. You can also try an alternative approach and arrange for extra help for your child in the form of tuition.
Bullying for any reason or circumstance should never be tolerated. Not only does it affect those being bullied but it also affects the bully. Bullied children develop both mental and physical symptoms including sleeping problems, headaches and stomach aches. Bullies are also more likely to get into fights and disagreements. All these factors take away opportunities that allow your child to love school.
Solution: Talk to your child often. Ask who their best friends are, ask them what they do during playtime and who they do it with. A happy child will be enthusiastic to talk about positive experiences. A child that is unhappy at school will not have much to say. If you suspect your child is being bullied, act fast. Dealing with bullying is tricky but the sooner you start the better.
5. Nothing To Look Forward To
"Why should I get up every morning to do the same thing I did yesterday and the day before". We go to work everyday motivated by the pay cheque at the end of the month, the promotion, the office gossip e.t.c. As adults almost everything we do we have a reason that justifies it. We rarely do things if it does not benefit us in any way. If your child does not see the benefit in going to school they have no reason to like it.
Solution: Set goals for your child that can only be completed at school. Make sure your child has a continuous purpose for going to school. A mutually agreed goal such as - to get 100% attendance next term, to achieve an A on the next math test, to get at all the words correct on the next spelling test. Stay up to date with what your child is doing at school and set them challenges, make them fun and reward them.
There are a combination of reasons for why a child might hate school, some more obvious than others. But the sooner they are dealt with the better. A positive attitude towards school and learning is important for making progress.