Is Your Child Bored in School?
Don't accept boredom as the norm. Here's how to make sure your child is challenged at school and not bored to tears.
Beuller ... Beuller ... Beuller ... Anyone? Many of us can relate to the classic scene in the movie "Ferris Beuller's Day Off," in which a teacher's monotone voice while taking attendance has students nodding off before class even begins. Kids say they are bored in school for many reasons -- from lackluster teachers to work that doesn't challenge them to academics that are so overwhelming they feel they can't keep up.
Whatever the reason, there are a lot of tuned out kids in the schools. How can you help your kids if you hear them say school's boring?
Causes of Boredom
It's essential that you get to the bottom of what your child truly means by the term "bored." Is your child not being sufficiently challenged by the schoolwork? Or is your child expecting to be stimulated constantly and hasn't learned to be patient for short periods?
"In general, students present signs of boredom when they aren't being challenged, when there is lack of engagement or there are other underlying issues that need to be addressed," says Dr. Chester Goad, a longtime educator and a former K-12 principal and teacher. "The goal in education is to spark interest and to engage students in a meaningful way that will reinforce the content."
What are some good indicators that your child might be bored in school? One symptom, according to Goad, is habitual unfinished work. "Completing work too early, assuming it is quality work, is a possible indicator your child is not being challenged," he says. Other indicators might include not speaking up in class, being disruptive, not connecting with the teacher or consistently being distracted by doodling or daydreaming.
A Lack of Engagement
When you send your child off to school, it's hard to know if he is truly getting the challenge he needs. One way to find out, says Pauline Hawkins, an adjunct English teacher at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is to ask your child "questions about what he is learning and what he wants to learn more about. If he can't answer your questions or doesn't have any questions, he is probably not engaged in class rather than not being challenged."
Hawkins suggests creating a learning book. "It can get overwhelming to hold onto all of a child's papers from school," she says, "but creating a learning book from the various stages of a child's education will emphasize how much that child has learned over the years. It is a great tool to access when a child gets discouraged about failing or getting a low grade. It shows that she is making progress, regardless of the speed at which it is happening."
If your child requires a little extra work to stay engaged in school because she is not challenged enough, come up with an at-home project for her to do that can encourage an interest in learning something new. "If school is not requiring a huge effort, parents can help their child develop a substantial personal project," suggests Dr. Winston Sieck, cofounder of The Thinker Academy.
Don't just pile on extra worksheets -- pick something that allows kids to explore their own interests and develop a skill. "Examples might include building a website, learning Java to create apps or Minecraft mods, learning a new musical instrument, writing a short story or book, designing a house and endless other possibilities," he suggests. "Parents can support the project and also help the child to think about ways that school subjects relate to it."
Also, keep in mind that sometimes children say they are bored because they don't want to admit they might be struggling. Some students may have an underlying condition, such as a reading disability. If caught early, parents, teachers and specialists can help children overcome these challenges. If you suspect this is the case, talk with the teacher and explore it further to come up with a plan of action. Don't accept boredom as the norm.
Stephanie Glover is the author and photographer behind A Grande Life. When she doesn't have her camera in her hands, you'll find her with a cup of coffee.
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