As necessary as it is, going to school can be difficult and traumatic for many children. For some, the experience can leave them demotivated or cynical, not just about their education but life in general. Needless to say, this probably isn’t what you want your child to take away from their schooling.
Children can be incredibly resilient, so it’s sometimes difficult for parents to tell if they hate going to school. But if your child expresses as much or has poor grades and disciplinary issues, action is certainly warranted.
Below are some common reasons why children might hate going to school, as well as the solutions you could try. Whether your child studies in a local school or an international elementary school in Singapore, you have the power to get your kid to be excited for school and to love learning once again.
This is one of the most common reasons a child might hate school. Bullying is a complex issue that needs more attention than many parents give it. If your child is unable to resolve or mitigate the bullying, they can carry lifelong emotional scars that may negatively influence their behavior as adults. They may also become perpetrators of bullying themselves to regain a sense of agency.
What to Do About It:
Reporting repeated bullying to school administrators and to the parents of bullies is especially important. And this isn’t to punish the erring kids necessarily. A lot of bullying is a reaction to the helplessness a child may experience at home or at school, so reporting it early on can very well also help the children who are bullying your child.
In the meantime, it’s also important to take action to help your child gain self-esteem through healthy means. Every child is different, you will need to work with them and, perhaps, a qualified child counselor to come up with a viable long-term strategy.
2) They’re Lagging Behind Their Peers
No child wants to be known for being a laggard in class. There are many reasons why this could happen, including medical conditions like near-sightedness, learning difficulties (like dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia), and mental health issues stemming from other things happening at school or at home. Transferees may also have difficulty readjusting to their new curricula, something that can become worse with time if not addressed early.
What to Do about It:
It all depends on the specific causes of their lagging behind. Physical or mental health issues may need to be addressed with the help of qualified professionals. In many cases, remedial classes or after-school tutoring may be key to helping your child catch up with their schoolmates.
3) They Feel Stressed and Anxious
Generally speaking, Asian cultures are known the world over for their emphasis on scholastic achievement, and Singaporean culture is no exception. For many students, the pressure to excel can cause them to experience stress and anxiety symptoms. If not handled well, the constant triggering of their “fight or flight” response can ultimately set the stage for a mental health issue in their teens and adulthood.
What to Do about It:
Parents have to realize a few things. First, academic achievement is not the only measure of a child’s worth. Second, it’s unrealistic to expect most children to be top achievers in every subject, all the time. Lastly, there are healthy and unhealthy ways for children and adults to deal with pressure.
As a parent, you’ll have to understand the practical, sustainable limits of your child when it comes to academics. If they hate school because of all the pressure, clearly there is something wrong with the amount of work they’re taking on or the strategies they are using to tackle and cope with it. Working things out with your child and their educators and seeking advice from a qualified counselor may help your child find more effective ways to manage their workload while maintaining their mental health.
4) They Feel Repressed or Stifled
Children are naturally curious, imaginative, and uninhibited. The school system, as we know it, tends to mitigate some of these qualities. While it’s sometimes for their own good, more individualistic children may feel that the demands of school, and, perhaps, the community at large, make it difficult for them to be who they truly feel they should be.
What to Do about It:
If moving to a different school is out of the question, your child should, at least, feel free to be themselves at home. The home should be a safe space for children to be able to express themselves in healthy and productive ways. You may need to adjust and accept the fact that your child is their own person, and you should take pride when they actualize themselves as individuals.
5) They May Feel Isolated
Isolation at school can stem from any of a number of reasons. Having a different culture from the dominant culture in school is one common reason, even in a country as cosmopolitan as Singapore. Another possible reason is that your child has specific interests not shared by their peers. Children who have not regularly interacted with other children before school age may also find school to be an isolating and upsetting place.
What to Do about It:
Talking to teachers or school administrators can be key, particularly for younger children. If teachers and administrators know something is wrong, they can more easily spot problematic incidents or assign your child with more accepting kids during group activities. Luckily, if your child studies in an international school, they will likely be exposed to individuals who come from different backgrounds. Many of these children will have also developed an accepting and inclusive worldview early in their lives.
Additionally, you can consider having your child join extracurricular activities related to things they’ve expressed interest in. This may potentially expand their social circle to include like-minded peers. You may also want to consider mentoring your child when it comes to developing their social skills and empathy, as both things that will serve them throughout their lives.
Help Your Child Start Loving School
Most of the issues mentioned could be mitigated by taking an active interest not just in your child’s academic performance but in their emotional and mental health as well. It doesn’t serve children to be academically successful in school only to develop into fearful, traumatized adults. Also, taking the time to consult with qualified child counselors and therapists may help your child develop healthier ways to succeed—both in school and in life.
Thank you for reading.