Interested family members and friends often ask youngsters how they like school. Some children will invariably reply, “It’s boring!” This statement should not be accepted at face value. If you dig a little deeper, you may find that something more complex is occurring, something that calls for parental intervention. The child himself may not even understand what the problem is.
Here are a few possibilities:
* The work is too easy. When the student has to sit through lessons about information he already knows, or perform number operations at which he is already skilled, he may well be bored. This sometimes happens with avid readers; they are far ahead of their peer group. The child should be reassessed and either placed in a higher grade or given more challenging assignments.
* The work is too difficult. When a child is placed in a class where he is incapable of comprehending the material taught or keeping up with his classmates, he soon begins to tune out the teacher and ceases to pay attention to lessons being presented. He gazes out the window, becomes a clock-watcher, a day-dreamer or a mischief-maker. When asked why he isn’t paying attention, he will complain, “I’m bored.” He may not understand himself why he finds lessons meaningless.
* The teacher is boring. Most teachers today will seem dull, compared to the entertainment children have available during their leisure hours. It is hard for one human to compete with the colorful, fast-moving , high-tech entertainment offered on TV or the computer. If a child happens to be assigned to a teacher who dresses in drab colors, speaks in a monotone, and is not enthusiastic about her topic, then yes, the child is likely to find the classroom scene boring. If parents offer lots of encouragement and incentives to do well, he may have a successful year in spite of the difficulty.
* The work seems irrelevant. If you tried to teach third-graders in Canada about the flora and fauna of Sweden, they would be bored. They don’t expect to ever go there; if asked, they couldn’t find the country on a map, and they just don’t care. If you happened to mention that Bigfoot or Superman made a home there, you might ignite a spark of interest, but it wouldn’t last. Children need to be able to link new information to past experience, or to something they expect to happen in the near future.
* The child is not at his best. Perhaps he is overtired, hungry, or coming down with an illness. Is his mind focused on something exciting happening after class, a birthday party, a big game, a visit from his grandparents? Does he have attention deficit disorder? Is he hyperactive? Is he tense or upset because of emotional issues, bullying by a classmate, a serious illness or an upcoming divorce in the family? Any of these factors could cause him to lose interest in the academic curriculum.
For a youngster, being consistently bored at school, over a period of time, is not normal. It’s a sign that there is a problem that should be investigated. Parents should start with a self-examination. Are they aware of any factors at home which would might impede the learning process for their child?
If the answer is in the negative, talk to the child. Ask about his relationships with his teacher and peers. Be alert for any negative comments.
If you are still puzzled as to why the child is bored, check with the teacher. Are test results very good or very poor? Does the teacher seem friendly, animated and kind? Ask for her impressions of how the child interacts with his classmates.
If you are still puzzled, request permission to sit in on the class for a few days. As an observant parent, you may be able to spot the problem.
Finally, if all else fails, your last option would be to make an appointment for the child with a qualified psychologist or child psychiatrist. It is bothersome, inconvenient, expensive and maybe embarrassing to explain to friends and relatives, but your child’s future depends on his success in school. The early years provide an important basis for future knowledge.
When a child consistently complains that school is boring, conscientious parents will not hesitate to pursue the matter further.