“I hate school!”

My son is in 1st grade and it’s started already.

“I hate school!”

“Why do I have to go to school?”

“Can school be cancelled today?”

My initial thought was to jump all over him “WHY??? You cannot hate school yet! You need to embrace school so you can be a big success! You need to love learning and always crave educating yourself throughout your life so you can be more worldly!!!” I think I panicked.

Quick note: This isn’t a post about homework, the Common Core Standards or testing. This isn’t a critique or commentary on school at all. I’m not advocating for homeschooling. I’m just looking at this topic from the perspective of wanting my child to rise up to learning and challenges when they aren’t as fun as sitting on the couch playing video games or jumping around like crazies with his friends. I just want to find a way for my child to be a little more enthusiastic about learning – if not enthusiastic, just not full of total angst.

I think for my child, it’s not school he dislikes, he just doesn’t seem to have a desire to learn anything. It’s either because he’s the expert of all things already or he doesn’t want to use his energy on something he doesn’t care about. I find this stunning – I don’t think I ever didn’t want to learn more.

I am sure I had moments during my lengthy school career where I wasn’t fond of school, but I feel discouraged that my 7 year old is already whining about the horror of school. I want him to love school, challenge himself, strive to do well, exceed our expectations in school, be a superstar, yadda yadda yadda

Photo Credit and article
Photo Credit and article

After my initial response of panic, I thought I’d try to figure out what the problem was. Is this really just a normal kid whining about school because he has to sit still and can’t act like a total looney all day?

Or is there really a problem?

So, I tried to ask questions in a slow, over-a-few days manner.

Did he have friends?

Did he feel like he was being picked on?

What part of school did he dislike the most?

Did he feel like he wasn’t keeping up with the class?

Was he getting reprimanded a lot?

I got nothing. I got answers like “no” or “eh” or “nothing”.  Not helpful.

I’ve shifted my approach to questions that require more than “yes”, “no” or “okay” answers. And I’ve reduced the number of questions – he doesn’t respond well to the third degree after a long day of school. I’m still on my mission to get handle on what it is that’s frustrating him. Although I have a hunch that the structure and rule following part of school may be the issue.

Hey, it’s more fun to not go to school than it is to go to school, I get it. But I want him to challenge himself, try to enjoy it more and see what he can get out of the process.

Here’s my current thoughts from what I’ve picked up around the interwebs and from mommy friends:

1. I’m still the #1 teacher in his lifetime – I want to make sure we’re continuing to read at home, have him see us reading for fun, talk about things that he’s learning and associate them with the world around him, play games that involve critical thinking, etc.

2. Get involved with the school – attend functions, do events, volunteer, participate

3. Communicate with the teachers – not in a crazy-over-the-top mom way, but know what he’s working on and allow the teacher to communicate with you

4. Homework perspective change – we’ve been treating homework like a grueling task. I want to switch the mentality to the “this is practice, and like everything in life that you want to get better at, you continue to practice” ideology

5. Morning routine – I don’t know about most households, but our mornings seem ridiculously anxious and chaotic. We usually have an extra child we watch whose bus comes 15 minutes before Andrew’s. So, I need to be totally ready for work, kids dressed and fed and all the other morning stuff. The boys are barely moving, they want to play, they move slower than molasses. I find myself saying things like “how many times did I tell you to brush your teeth and put your socks on?” or “why is your coat not on yet?!!?” I obviously could tweak the morning routine to get it to more of a working “routine” and less of a pushing, frustrating, running-through-tar type of morning.

6. Overall attitude – I know that he hears from older kids and other people that school isn’t fun. And maybe it will never be over-the-top fun for him, but I want to make sure we view it is a positive and enriching experience so that the kids see the positive. It’s not brainwashing, it’s perspective, right?

Would love to hear some other perspectives!

A little help on this post from Parenting.com

3 thoughts on ““I hate school!”

  1. This has to be really hard ~ I’m sorry, Holly. But what a great Mom you are working so constructively with him. I do have to say, though, that I’ve found kids are never opposed to learning ~ kids, adults and all humans are natural learners. We can’t NOT learn. I think kids just have difficult time learning things they are not interested in. And school, in many ways, is not interesting. I excelled in school because I was a people pleaser, but really I just wanted to sit home and read my own books all day long. I went to school for years and years, even getting my Masters Degree ~ but I’ve never been more passionate about learning than when I was out of school and learning what I was truly interested in. I think the challenge of all schools is to teach what kids are interested in, in a way that the other learning is just a simply by-product. My kids aren’t interested in reading for the sake of reading, but they sure do want to read the instructions to their video games and be able to spell things on their ipads. I don’t honestly know what the answers are, but I do believe the questions you are asking will bring us all closer. Hugs to you, Dear Sister.

  2. this helped me A LOT. My kindergartner is the same way…he says the same things and it breaks my heart. At least now I know he’s not the only one out there.
    Thanks. And thanks for the additional info.

  3. It is so hard to watch them lose enthusiasm for school already. I like your ideas. One morning trick we have is they get ready first, then they can play until it’s time for the bus. Electronics are big for them and they csn’t turn them on until after they are dressed.

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