All parents want their children to feel safe and happy at school. While it is common for every child to occasionally complain about it, most kids like going to school. They like to interact with their friends and they like being challenged academically. However, some kids really hate going and try to find a way out of it as much as possible. If this is the case with your child, there is obviously a reason for their unhappiness.
First, you need to find the root of the problem. There are many reasons why a child might dread going to school. Are they having a problem with a teacher? Are they having a problem keeping up with or understanding their lessons? Are they being picked on or bullied by other students? Once you’ve determined why your child doesn’t want to go to school, you can begin to work on how to fix the problem.
If your child is having a problem with a teacher
It is important for children to learn to speak up for themselves. If you are able to get your child to talk to the teacher on their own, this is a great first step. It’s possible that the teacher doesn’t realize they are being harsh with your child. Help your child decide the best way to approach the teacher. Tell them to bring up a specific incident and tell the teacher how his/her actions affected them. For instance, instead of telling the teacher he/she is mean to them, they could say “When you told the whole class I got a D on my quiz, it embarrassed me”.
If your child has talked to their teacher and the problem persists, ask for a conference with the teacher. Knowing that you are concerned about their interactions with your child will usually leave an impact on the teacher and make them think twice about how they treat your child the next time. If a conference with the teacher doesn’t resolve the problem, request a conference with the principal to express your concerns. If things still do not improve, ask that your child be removed from that teacher’s classroom.
If your child is having a problem academically
Vision and hearing problems may make it hard for your child to focus on their school work. Your first step should be to have your child’s vision and hearing checked. A lot of times, once these problems are resolved, their grades will improve and so might their attitude towards school.
If vision and hearing tests come back normal, talk to your child’s teacher about having an assessment by the school psychologist. If there are any learning disabilities, Special Education classes may help your child to understand their lessons better by teaching them at a slower pace or with a more unconventional approach. Look into getting a tutor for your child. Some children learn better with more individualized attention.
If your child is being bullied
Bullying is infuriating for parents, as well as scary for kids. Try to get your child to handle the situation on their own, if at all possible. If your child is younger (in elementary school), tell them to talk to their teacher about the bullying. The teacher can keep an eye on the situation and talk to the bully or the bully’s parents about their observations. If your child is older (in middle or high school), tell them to keep their friends close and avoid going places where they know the bullies will be.
If your child has done these things, but is still having problems with a bully, it may be time for you to step in. Quietly go to the teacher or the principal, without making too big of a deal about it, if possible. The more attention that is drawn to your child, the more negative attention he/she will likely get from the bully.
Encouraging your child to get involved in as many school activities as they can will help them to form friendships with other children who share the same interests. The more friends your child has, the less likely bullies are to pick on them.
School should be a place where children learn academics as well as social skills. There are some kids that everything just seems to come naturally to, and there are some that have to work harder. Whatever the case is with your child, show them that you are always there for them to talk to and that you will always try to help them in whatever way you can. Knowing that someone is there to back them up and fight for them is a valuable gift to your child.