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Does he hate school?

What do you do when they say, “I hate school.”

Public, private, or homeschooled – it’s important to us that our kids LOVE school – that they go off happily every day to where they will spend about 1,000 hours this year, according to Datalab.

Love it or hate it, school is not only where they learn academics but they’re also learning about:

  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Problem solving
  • Planning & organization
  • Conflict resolution
  • Follow-through

But what if they say, “I hate school?”

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For boys, this may show up in behavior more than words. They may have consistent stomachaches or headaches, they may just not want to get out of bed. Be particularly aware if there’s been a sudden change in his behavior.

Here are the first 3 things to look at:

  1. Conflict with other kids?  Help him problem-solve and role play individual situations that are causing him trouble.  He may simply need more social skills. It can be helpful to give him the exact words to use in different situations.  Check back in with him often to see how he’s doing. Also, note if it is just kids learning how to navigate friendships and social behavior, or if it seems more out-of-bounds and headed towards bullying behavior.
  1. Conflict with teacher?  In elementary school, most teachers are female and they don’t “get” boys and their need for active learning and movement breaks throughout the day. Does the teacher understand and provide active lessons, alternative seating, and plenty of ways to move his wiggly body?  Discuss issues with the teacher directly and early.
  1. Conflict with curriculum? Is it too challenging or not challenging enough? Is he bored? Either way, it can be stressful for him.  Boys tend to show their stress outwardly – which may mean he’s setting himself up for some behavior interventions. Find out not only how he’s doing from the teacher’s perspective, also determine how he feels about his progress.  Remember, boys tend to read later and this can make him feel like he isn’t meeting expectations.

Next steps:

  • Create an action plan together.   Would he like to get to school earlier so he has time to socialize? Would it help for him to ride bikes before school?
  • Talk with your child’s teacher and be open to their observations and suggestions. Sometimes we let our concerns go on too long. Be sure to ask the teacher the best way to communicate with her.
  • Volunteer in the classroom so you familiarize yourself with the routine and his classmates.
  • Feed him! Make sure he has a strong protein-rich breakfast. That, plus some exercise before school and the whole day will go better – for everyone!

Acknowledging his frustrations, fears, and uncertainties along the way. You can also share your positive and negative school experiences, if it helps him feel like he isn’t the only one.

Above all – be sure you tell him that you believe in him, that together you’ll create strategies to help him be successful, and guide him to be an advocate for himself – eventually he may LOVE school!

For more on boys and “I hate school,” see this blog post.


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