How to Help Your Child Like School

Father and daughter studying together - Connections Academy

It’s no secret: some kids hate school. That dislike can negatively affect their grades as well as their mood. And, if you’re a parent who’s serving as your child’s homeschool or online school learning coach, having a child who hates school can be exceptionally frustrating. The good news is, there are ways you can help your child enjoy school more. 

As with many issues, the solution begins with understanding the problem. 

Why do kids hate school? 

While no one can quantify how many people hate school, just about everyone hates (or hated) some part of the school experience during some point of their schooling. And not everyone has the same reason for disliking school. That said, experts have determined some of the top reasons certain kids hate school more frequently or fully than other kids. Three of the most common reasons for hating school include: 

  • Thinking is hard. If you’ve ever felt exhausted after concentrating on a task that requires lots of thought but little physical effort, you’re not alone. Thinking uses up mental resources in the same way that lifting weights can exhaust our physical strength. In fact, thinking is so hard that scientific studies have found many people will choose physical pain over intense thought. The subjects in those studies were adults. Imagine how tiring/discomforting thinking can be for children. 
  • There is little freedom. We all have to deal with schedules and responsibilities, but kids’ school days are often more rigorously controlled than anything the typical adult experiences. From getting on the bus at a certain time to attending classes in the order the school dictates to eating whatever is on the cafeteria menu, kids don’t get much choice. The problem with that is freedom is conducive to happiness. In fact, evidence shows freedom is more important to happiness than measures like income. For some kids, a highly regulated school day can feel miserable. 
  • The learning style is wrong. While every child can learn, not every child will learn the same way or at the same pace. Sometimes, when asking “Why do students hate school?” the answer is simply: school isn’t working for them. A lot of students need to learn in a certain format or at a certain pace to see results. If their school doesn’t offer that format or pace, a student can become easily discouraged and resentful. 

There are, of course, other reasons a child might hate school. Everything from issues with bullying to poor teachers to anxiety about tests can negatively affect the learning experience. You should speak with your child about their feelings to gauge what factors are affecting them. However, in most cases, addressing the three main issues discussed above can go a long way to improving your child’s opinion of school.   

How can you help your child enjoy school more? 

Being able to answer, “Why do people hate school?” and being able to do anything about it are two different matters. But now that you know the top reasons your child may be struggling to enjoy the school experience, you can make a real difference—particularly if your child is in homeschool or online school. 

As your child’s learning coach, you have a lot of opportunities to positively impact your child’s school day and help them enjoy the process more. The top steps you should take include: 

  • Take more breaks. As previously mentioned, thinking can tire out the mind just like lifting weights can tire out the muscles. So, it’s not surprising that resting the mind can help us re-energize our ability to focus in the same way that resting a muscle can help it regain strength. For children, resting the mind can be exceptionally important. Studies show that, when children are engaged in learning, they begin to lose attention quickly. Being asked to stay on task after their attention is already waning can cause many students to start disliking the learning process. As your child’s learning coach, you can help avoid this pattern by ensuring your child takes plenty of breaks. 
  • Embrace flexibility. If you want to avoid the kind of rigorously controlled schedule that can lead your child to hate school, follow a more flexible school day. Flexibility is one of the top advantages of online school—and for good reason. It gives you and your child plenty of opportunity to arrange the day in a way that works for your child’s natural learning style. If they prefer getting math out of the way early in the day, you can make that happen. If they want a longer lunch to recharge, you can typically do that too. By taking your child’s preferences into account, you can give them more control over their day, which can help them enjoy school more. 
  • Mix it up. In the same way online school can add flexibility to your child’s day, it can also allow you to vary the pace of their learning. This, in turn, helps you find a learning style that’s best for your child. If they excel in a subject, you can work ahead. If they struggle, you can take things slower. And don’t forget that you can reach out to teachers and counselors for help. The last thing you want is for your child to hate school simply because the learning style isn’t quite right. With an online school team by your side, you can work with your child to find a rhythm that keeps them motivated and successful. 

Hating school is common, but children can overcome such feelings when given the right guidance and learning environment. The desire to provide that guidance is why many parents choose—and enjoy—homeschool or online school. To learn what other factors are leading parents to choose online school, check out our article on the 10 reasons parents are switching to virtual school

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