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I rarely drop-off and pick my kids up from school. My husband does that since I take the train to move around. But recently my husband was out of town for a conference, so I had to drive by and pick my kids up from school. As usual, I asked them how their day went and how their studying was going along. My daughter gave me a sullen look and blurted out “I hate school!”
I was surprised by her answer. This is unusual for my daughters, especially Charlotte, who is growing up to be persistent and goal-oriented. After a while, her sentiments grew intensely. There were mornings where she would just play with her breakfast and not eat before leaving home. Then, there were two instances when my husband had to bring her to work with him because she wouldn’t get out of the car! It was becoming alarming because Charlotte’s actions were starting to affect her twin sister, Chelsea.
So before both my twins grew to resent going to school, I tried to come up with some simple steps and tricks to get the kids excited to go to school again.
Dig for clues
Before addressing a problem, it should always be assessed first. Engage in a deep conversation with your kids and talk about how school is going. Stay on the look-out for clues as to why they hate school, and ask specific questions like “is there something bothering you at school?” or “what exactly do you hate about school?” If there’s no progress with these questions, try reversing the questions; ask your kids about what would make school better for them. Their answer will most likely lead to the root of the problem.
Seek help from those ready to give it
Thankfully, you’re not alone in the struggle to make kids love school again. Just because the real problem is at school doesn’t mean parents can leave all of it to the people at school. Talk to the school staff and work with them in addressing your child’s concerns. I’m pretty sure they’ll be very glad to know they have reinforcement. Plus, they might have some amazing tricks up their sleeve that will help to solve your children’s school problems.
Provide support and acknowledgement
While it’s very frustrating when kids fight over going to school or not, fighting back isn’t going to help. Take a step back, start observing their progress, and recognize little improvements. Let your child know they’re doing a great job for finishing their breakfast on time, or for not staying in their room. Even baby steps should be given acknowledgment.
Create a rewards ladder
Instead of punishing the kids, look on the brighter side and give them incentives. Think of simple stuff that can serve as a reward for going to school. Start with day-to-day incentives like giving 30 extra minutes of Wi-Fi time at night before turning it off. Once this becomes a routine, start giving weekly incentives. I find the most effective incentive is a tub of ice cream of their choosing for every week they don’t miss school. And then the only thing to debate about is what ice cream flavor to buy!
Find a connection between their interests and school
Most kids who hate school find it boring and repetitive, so finding a connection between school and their interests should solve this dilemma. If they hate science but love playing games, search for educational games that involve scientific topics. Nowadays, there is an array of free educational games your kids can try out, especially on smartphones and tablet devices.
Make references to your kid’s experiences
With so many things to read and memorize, one of the least favorite subjects in school is history. Most children learn by experience or by sight, so try to encourage them to watch TV shows that are historical in nature, or visit an interactive museum with them. It’s also nice to go on vacations to historical places from time to time so they can see and feel what they usually only read in books.
Turn playtime into a learning activity
Even if it doesn’t seem like it, younger kids have a hard time starting school at an early age. Most children, especially boys, develop fine motor skills late. Forcing them early to learn reading or start writing might only bring frustration, which can make them think they’re not fit for school. That’s why many children often learn better when they start school later. This was the case for one of my twins, Chelsea. Due to some health problems we encountered while she was young, we were not able to send her to school as early as her twin sister.
Luckily for me, incorporating these seven measures enabled my kids to change their outlook on going to school. Maybe it’s the talking part that made the difference. Encourage your children to speak and try your best to understand where they’re coming from. As adults, it’s our ultimate responsibility to make everything work for our sons and daughters.
Ruth is a working mom blessed with lovely twins, Chelsea and Charlotte. In hopes to tame their energetic twins, she and her husband are trying to get them involved in yoga, with little success. Ruth works as a Community Manager for Afterschool.ae, the leading after school activity planning platform for kids and moms in Dubai. Follow her on twitter @fruthfulness