My daughter’s birthday is in august which means she ends up being one of the youngest kids in her class. I worried about her being ready to start Kindergarten because she was still so young, but she begged me to start school and I agreed. As the first day approached, she couldn’t have been more excited but now we’re halfway through the year and she dreads going. How did my five-year-old go from excited to start Kindergarten to despising it and what should parents do when their young child hates school this much?
Why Does My Young Child Hate School?
My daughter could identify shapes and colors before she was even old enough to pronounce them. If you asked her to point to red, she could. At four years old she knew most of her letters and had even started writing her name and other small words. We didn’t force her to do any of this but when she had shown or expressed interest in learning something, we fostered that interest with fun, hands-on activities. Her desire to learn paired with our interest to teach her, mixed with the attention and help she was able to get from us all equaled her learning something quickly.
Before she started Kindergarten, she would ask me constantly to help her learn how to write “real words”. She would sit for hours writing in notebooks but it was gibberish because although she could write letters, she was unable to put them into words yet. She wanted so badly to learn how to read and write and couldn’t wait to go to school and learn these skills. Today, she tells me every day how much she hates writing and begs me to pick her up early because writing is the last thing they do during the day. How did my child go from begging me to learn to hating the idea so badly she wants to avoid it at all cost?
The Problem with School Systems
Children are naturally curious, they want to learn and they thrive in situations that allow them to feed their curiosity. Just look at how much a toddler learns in only a few short years. They learn motor skills such as using utensils to eat; they learn mobility by crawling or walking and they start grasping the context of a complex language. Almost every single toddler does all of this and more because they want to. They watch the adults around them and think “I want to do that too, I want to LEARN that” and when they are allowed to mimic and practice the behavior, they eventually do learn, and they learn quickly.
Imagine if we turned the tables and tried to force newborns to learn these skills. If as soon as they were old enough to hold a fork and spoon we made them sit at the table for hours practicing. Do you think they would learn as quickly? Do you think they would WANT to learn it? I imagine it would cause a lot more frustration and that’s exactly what is happening in schools around the world today. We are cramming children into a classroom and forcing them to contain that natural sense of adventure and curiosity. Sit still, be quiet and learn this!
How Can I Help?
We’re all (parents) guilty of relying too heavily on an education system that’s over-worked and under-paid. We send our children to school and think it’s now their responsibility to teach our children because that’s what school is for, right? Remember how your toddler thrived? Your school-aged child could too, but we need to resume our responsibility to our children’s education.
School is there to teach the information they need to know to further their education, but it’s not their job to force kids to learn. They can sell the tools but they cannot spark the interest in learning. That’s when our responsibilities come into play. It’s our job to instill those skills and foster that ambition to learn.
There are several ways we can do this but the most successful approach is to find ways to teach our children while they are in our care. School should not be the only place where they learn and we should be continuing the lessons at home. By making every moment a teaching moment, we are helping them quench that thirst for knowledge while keeping their little brains thirsty.
Feeding Their Hunger To Learn And Explore
You can make any number of mundane activities into teachable moments. Perhaps you could find a recipe from a certain time period or culture and learn more about it before preparing it to try yourself. Gardening can be turned into a fun science lesson by learning the different parts of a plant or investigating the surrounding ecosystem. Gather different species of bugs on a nature walk and look them up to learn more about the creatures you live beside every day. Construct a birdhouse for the backyard while practicing motor and construction skills.
This is the premise for an alternative schooling that is becoming much more popular. Many parents are turning to un-schooling and—according to studies—the children who participate in this type of education score just as well, if not better, than children in typical schools. The idea behind un-schooling is that instead of learning in a classroom, the world becomes a classroom. Parents make every day errands and chores into lessons and children are thriving in this environment. Obviously, not everyone can dedicate this much time and energy to their child’s education while working a full-time job, but the idea could still be implemented during the hours when children are not in school.
When we make every moment a fun opportunity to learn, and we show our children that learning can be fun, it stimulates an ambition to learn. If we allow them to turn their brains off while at home how can we expect them to enjoy school?
Let us know what you think in the comments below. Share your story or let us know what worked best for you if your child hated school.
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