Get Your Kids to Like School
“I don’t want to go to school today.” “Math is boring.” “I hate homework.” Tired of hearing these complaints? Here are five ways to help your kids get jazzed up about their education.
1. Get Involved
Children pick up on your cues. Their interest in school can increase as they see your own interest, whether through serving on the parent council, volunteering with school activities, attending school events, or getting to know your child’s teachers.
“Kids need to get a sense that you support the school, and have a positive relationship with it,” says Jeff Kugler of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. “If that relationship breaks down, it’s harder for your child to be positive.”
2. Don’t Obsess About Grades
It’s normal to care about your child’s grades, and consult with the teacher if they’re falling behind. But don’t make grades your sole focus, or make your expectations overwhelming.
“That’s a good way to turn kids off school,” says Kugler. “We want kids to enjoy school. The focus should be on the process – learning – not just on getting ood marks.”
3. Banish “Boring”
“I don’t believe in that word,” says Dr. Deborah Chesnie Cooper, a Toronto educational and developmental psychologist. When kids talk about being bored, she says, what they really mean is they’re frustrated with their learning (because it’s too hard or too easy), they can’t relate to the subject (e.g. what math means in their daily lives), they don’t like how it’s being taught, or they’re worried about their performance.
Talk to your child about exactly what they find “boring”. Solutions might involve new learning strategies, extra attention or additional challenges.
Another tactic is simply explaining that everyone has different likes and dislikes, and that not every subject can be your favourite or bring out your best – but you still have to try. That realization alone can ease a child’s “boredom” and their stress about the subject.
4. Help with Homework
That doesn’t mean doing the work with them (although some guidance is appropriate for younger children), but helping them to develop a schedule.
Why do some kids dislike homework? Not necessarily because the work is difficult, but because they put it off or try to rush through it. Have a set homework time – maybe following an after-school break, but before TV or other play – and stick to it.
“Help them get organized and into a routine,” says Dr. Chesnie Cooper. Kids will feel better about their homework when they complete it with less hassle, and with time left in the day to relax and have fun.
5. Dial Down the Programs
Think of how your own work (and work attitude) can suffer when you’re stretched too thin. It happens to children, too.
“When children are over-programmed, it’s harder for them to focus on school,” says Kugler. Down time will keep children fresh, and ready to face another school day with more energy and enthusiasm.