If your child seems to hate school, dreads getting up in the morning on school days or constantly pretends to be ill, don’t ignore this type of behavior. You shouldn’t consider it “natural” for your child to hate going to school.
When the classroom is stimulating, engaging and welcoming, most children look forward to going to school. Based on numerous studies, your child may be facing challenges in several areas that make attending class an uncomfortable experience.
Here are 5 reasons you should explore:
1. Poor performance with math. Don’t underestimate the frustration your child has with math. If a child is performing poorly in this subject area, there’s a good chance he will struggle in other subjects, according to a recent report published in The Washington Post.
That study revealed that many students struggle with academic performance in reading and other subjects — primarily because they struggle with math.
According to cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia and the author of “Why Don’t Students Like School?,” it’s critical that children have an understanding of basic math. He points to studies that show some children may have a lack of understanding about numerosity — or the number system.
He said all children are born with the ability to appreciate numerosity, which involves being able to make comparison judgments of “more than” or “less than.” This could be as simple as determining which jar has more marbles. Researchers believe this understanding of the number system is what enables children to understand cardinal values of number, and later more difficult subjects like trigonometry and calculus.
Willingham said problems may arise with mathematical understanding if a child is slow at developing the cognitive representations of the quantity that can support an understanding of math. He also believes that this challenge can lead to problems with reading, such as dyslexia. As a result, your child can end up struggling in all academic areas.
2. Social challenges. As many reports of bullying and cyberbullying come to the forefront, it’s important to determine if your child is experiencing social problems at school. If children are repeatedly saying they’re sick with no obvious symptoms or simply say they hate school, they may be facing bullying or uncomfortable social situations at school. Don’t ignore the signals.
According to recent research, 40% of students in grades 4 through 8 are victims of cyber bullying, which is increasingly becoming a problem. Many report being victims of cyberbullying as early as 3rd grade.
Across all grades, 52 percent of students have been reported being cyberbullied, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
52% of students are cyberbullied
3. Not being mentally challenged. In traditional classrooms, students typically must work at the same pace as their peers. For students who are not being mentally challenged, the school can become an excruciating experience. It can be boring. If your child shows a lack of interest in turning in homework or going to school, it could be that she is not finding the work interesting or challenging.
In the report, “The Benefits of Mixed Age Grouping,” the author pointed out the shortcomings of traditional classrooms. “Although humans are not usually born in litters, we seem to insist that they are educated in them.”
Lilian G. Katz also pointed out that in the family structure, it’s common for older children to help out with younger children or teach them certain tasks. As a result, they learn leadership skills while the younger children benefit from learning new skills.
Here are a few benefits of a multi-age classroom as outlined by the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI):
- Children can spend several years with the same teacher. A teacher can better assess a child’s strengths and needs over a longer period, and can, therefore, better support the child’s learning.
- Children are viewed as unique individuals. The teacher focuses on teaching each child according to his or her own strengths, unlike in same-grade classrooms that often expect all children to be at the same place at the same time with regard to ability.
- Children are not labeled according to their ability. For example, children in same-grade classrooms may be labeled “below grade level” or “low.” These children may stop trying, while those labeled as “above grade level” or “high” may not feel challenged.
- Children learn at their own rate. In traditional schools, a child may be retained if he’s not able to master all of the material by the end of the year. However, in mixed-age classrooms, he would have more time to master the material and would not face the stress associated with being retained.
- Children develop a sense of family with their classmates. They become a “family of learners” who support and care for each other.
Older children have the opportunity to serve as mentors and to take leadership roles.
4. Forced to sit at a desk throughout the day. According to the educator and philosopher Maria Montessori, children should be able to guide their own learning experience through discovery and exploration. In a traditional school setting, children are required to follow a script. Therefore, an activity involving a subject matter he may find incredibly interesting may be interrupted because it’s time to move on to the next subject.
5. Learning disability. If your child has been assessed as having a learning disability, don’t accept that as a determination that your child can’t learn. Maria Montessori as well as other leading education researchers have determined that children absorb information through different methods. It is important to find alternative ways that equip your child for success. In many cases, a child can excel once being placed in an environment that is conducive to their learning style.
There is no reason a child should hate school. It should be a learning experience that excites all children.
The Montessori philosophy was developed to allow students the time to delve into subjects that they find intriguing. As a result, they can develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
If you notice signs that your child is not engaged in their studies or seems to be falling behind, it may be time to explore other options. Contact us for more information about the Montessori Method and whether it can be a fit for your child.