30 September 2008 08:49 AM

"But I Don’t Wanna Go to School!"

by Dr. Rick

What to do when your second grader tells you school’s not “fun” and he “hates” it?  He even uses the worst put-down a kid can use: “boring.”  It’s too early in the school year – and in his school career – to risk a dislike that could last for years.


First of all, don’t panic.  Lots of kids go through a stage like this, especially right after the fun days of summer vacation, when “the livin’ is easy.”

Here are some ideas to consider.


  1. Stay positive.  Do all you can to talk about the “fun” aspects of school.  Learning new things.  Doing new activities.  Making new friends. Talk about the fun you had in school when you were his age.  Show how you’re still using the skills you learned in school.  Stories from your childhood will show him you understand.  Ask other family members for their favorite memories.  This is not the time to share stories about your horrible fourth-grade math teacher, though.  The whole purpose is to stay positive.
  2. Inject your own fun.  Face it, sometimes school is not exactly summer vacation, although the elementary teachers I know are absolute magicians at making learning fun for children.  Are there ways you can make learning at home fun?  Make homework time easier by setting up predictable routines, so important for young learners.  Story times at home can be loads of fun, and they’ll develop a love of reading.  Get a library card for your child and read his selections together.  Ask the children’s librarian for suggestions.  Talk about your favorite books from when you were in second grade. 
  3. Get a “study buddy.”  From time to time, invite some of your child’s friends and classmates over to your house to work on homework together – maybe the science fair project, or a weekly spelling test, for example.  You can learn a lot by watching kids working together.  Maybe your son needs some help in organizing himself.  Maybe he’s too shy to ask for help.  Having a study buddy can help your child stay on track, make sure he understands assignments, and gives him a social outlet, too.  Monitor the study buddies, of course.  The operative word is “study.”
  4. Be realistic.  A good lesson to learn is that sometimes – not all the time – learning is difficult.  It doesn’t have to be painful, though.  Lots of support from you and the other important adults in his life will go a long way in smoothing the rough spots of school.  Celebrating small successes builds the right skills and attitudes.
  5. Involve the teacher.  If his dislike for school continues, it’s a good idea to talk to the teacher.  How’s he doing in class?  Does he have friends?  Do other kids seem to enjoy his company?  Is he having trouble seeing the board or hearing instructions?  There are many professionals who are able to help if necessary.  Stay on top of it.

It’s painful to hear so young a child say he “hates” anything, especially school.  Do your best to stay positive, showing him the fun and joy he can experience from what school has to offer: leaning, activities, music, art, sports, friendships, new skills and knowledge.  Encourage him to tell you what he likes about school – there must be something – and stick with that as a starting point.  Never give up.


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