Does Your Child Like School?

by Nancy Monson

What is Your Child’s Relationship to School?

It is imperative that parents be aware of their child’s response to school.  It is not “normal” for children to not like school. Imagine spending 75% of your time in a place you didn’t like and felt powerless to change. Parents WANT their children to like school, to love learning, to get a good education, but these things just don’t happen automatically. Don’t assume that just because a school has a good reputation, good test scores, other families like it, that your child is happy there. Every child is different and IT IS POSSIBLE FOR CHILDREN TO LOVE SCHOOL. Your child needs to be in a school that teaches to their learning style, stimulates their curiosity, engages them in a personally meaningful learning process, draws on and values what they already know, values physical education (kids need to be physical!) gives them time to be social and supports them in developing strong, healthy, empowering communication skills and be a school that respects parents input.  

What are some signs you should look for to know if your child likes school and is actually learning?

  • They TALK about school, what they are learning and doing.  It is a myth that kids will never talk about what they are doing in school.  At the dinner table create a family ritual where everyone shares his and lows, and experiences from the day.
  • They don’t just talk about recess, but about their classes, new information, ask questions, and want to find out more about a subject they are interested in.
  • There is a sense of excitement about going to school
  • They bring home projects and want to explain everything to you
  • You can visually see or experience improvements in subjects such as reading, writing, and math, and YOUR CHILD TAKES PRIDE IN THEIR WORK
  • They have friends they want to and do play with outside of school

What should cause concern?

  • Not talking about school (it’s boring, nothing ever happens…..)
  • A feeling of sadness, tension, anxiety, anger, withdrawal
  • Your child has no friends
  • Your child turns to food, t.v., computers and video games right after school most days (lack of energy to play, be physical, relate to others)
  • You’re getting poor reports from your child’s teacher about their performance
  • Your child is TELLING YOU that they don’t like school (and telling you often)

I hear too many parents talk about these signs of distress as if they are normal and will pass.  School sets the stage for a child’s relationship to learning AND TO RELATING TO PEOPLE, so it is a huge influence on their development as a balanced, centered, stable, confident person. So, it is important to listen to your child when they talk about school. And if they aren’t talking, are you really watching and sensing their general state or mood? In general, if they love it most of the time, but have a few hard stretches that you can help them with, that is normal. But if your child seems to be losing something of their essential nature, losing confidence, not wanting to go to school, is bored with their studies or completely overwhelmed, it is time to take action.

What can you do?

  • Go to school and find out more about your child by talking to teachers.  Don’t just listen to their words, ask yourself if you can feel a concern and understanding of your child.
  • Don’t be afraid to explore other schools.  WHAT SCHOOL IS REALLY RIGHT FOR YOUR CHILD, (not what you want) what would be a school they would love?
  • Talk to other parents, are any other children experiencing the same distress?
  • Talk to your child, what kind of school would they be excited about?
  • Research…educate yourself as to what really goes on in schools

Of course with any of these suggestions, you have to know your child. I’ve seen kids who won’t like any school because they don’t want to work!  But often, a child is crying out for help, they really don’t like school, and they need your help to solve the problem.


© Nancy Monson, 2005. All rights reserved.

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