What’s so wrong with school, son?
It’s six a.m. and the alarm sounds for Joe to wake up. A grunt comes from his room and the alarm stops. Ten minutes later the same thing repeats; and again ten minutes after that. “Joe you’re going to be late,” yells mom up the stairs in the direction of his room. “I don’t want to go to school!” responds Joe.
Does this sound like your house? This is one of the more obvious signs that something at school isn’t right. All kids love to go to school, learn and do work right?
This morning routine can be an indication that something is wrong at school but unfortunately not all children will be so easy to read. It is important for parents and guardians to understand this and pay attention to even the slightest change in behavior when it relates to their child and school.
Some students will start to hate school entirely, like Joe, while others will only slightly react to something that has to do with the subject or area of school in which they are experiencing problems. It is sometimes very hard to see the changes so it is important to communicate with your child and listen to your child. If he or she stops talking about something they used to talk about, or never talks about a subject or area of school this could be an indication that something there is troubling them.
So how does one tell without being able to read their child’s mind?
Wouldn’t that be wonderful? The ability to open up a child’s mind and just look inside and be able to know everything that is going on with that child. Parents, guardians and most teachers dream of this kind of power. Unfortunately no one has been able to package this unique ability and sell it on the shelves of major retail stores; and until they do, adults are left with simple observations to try and piece together the major workings of a child’s mind.
So what should a parent or guardian be looking for beyond the obvious, “I hate school,” statement from the child? There are many behaviors that can change to show frustration or fear of school here are a few scenarios:
*When a parent or guardian sits with their child to do homework does the child get frustrated with one or more subject? How quickly? If a child automatically gets frustrated as soon as the spelling list comes out of his or her backpack, chances are he or she is having a very tough time with spelling. If he or she only becomes frustrated with one of the words on the list, they are probably doing ok but need a little more review on the spelling pattern that is being presented.
*What kid doesn’t enjoy lunch? The smell of the cafeteria food, the noise of happy children eating and talking and the food fights that spontaneously erupt ending up with a few kids in the principal’s office – what’s not to love right? If your child is coming home from school with their lunch pail still full of food or asking for you to talk to the teacher so they can eat in the classroom or even asking for you to come and sit with them every day at lunch; chances are something at lunch is bothering them. This could range from worst case scenario – a bully, or cute case scenario a crush. They could be scared to eat in the cafeteria because someone is bothering them either by being mean or by producing feeling they just can’t understand. It is important to not only communicate with your child about why they are requesting a change for lunch or not eating their food but to also reach out to the teacher and other school personnel who may have noticed why your child’s behavior is changing.
*Are you getting notes from the child’s teacher about homework not being completed? Has your child hidden this homework from you? Fear of failure can motivate a change in behavior from children. He or she may not understand the concepts being discussed in school and therefore are afraid of disappointing you or their teacher with his or her inability to understand the concepts being taught.
One of the most important things a parent or guardian can do for their child is to keep communication open between themselves and the child as well as themselves and the school. If the teacher at school is not communicating the way you want, i.e. not responding to phone messages, emails and not showing to scheduled meetings, involve the principal. Parents and guardians need to understand it is their right to be able to know what is going on in the classroom. Also if you, as the protector of your child, don’t feel like the answers you are getting from the school suffice, schedule a day off from work and go sit in their classroom and observe.
The other most important thing a parent or guardian can do for their child is to support them. They may be having that problem with spelling by look at the great job they did on the picture they drew you, or on their last math test! When he or she does do great on the spelling assignment give them praise. These are simple ways that parents and guardians can help support their children through their tough times in school.
Remember as a parent or guardian you know your child better than anyone. You see them each day and know their moods and when those moods change. When in doubt, ask them. Then use this information to build your child up, support them and to figure them out!