Nothing generates fatigue more than boredom and disengagement. A child who is consistently coming home from school exhausted and complaining about being bored is trying to tell you something. Figuring out what is at the root of the problem, however, may not always be easy.
The B Word – Boredom can signify a number of differing issues. The first thing parents need to do is probe a little further and find out exactly what their child means by this complaint. When kids complain about being bored, parents immediately assume they are not being engaged fully in their work, but the reasons for this can be varied. Sometimes, the child may experience boredom if the work is not challenging enough but others may complain about boredom if they are confused by the work and find it too difficult. Children may also express feelings of boredom if they are being asked by the teacher to study topics that simply don’t interest them. Talking to your child to get a clear understanding of the situation is the first step parents should take.
The Under-Challenging Classroom – Many kids who experience boredom at school do so because they are not being stimulated by the material being taught. Of course, not every subject is comprised of scintillating content, but often, a bored child is one who would do better in a gifted and talented program, where the curriculum is more rigorous and the standards higher. If your child races through their homework, gets good grades without much effort, produces sloppy work they are not interested in or shows little engagement in the subject matter, they may fit this description. If you suspect that your child’s ability to learn exceeds what they are currently receiving in the classroom, having them tested for a G&T program may provide a solution.
The Over-Challenging Classroom – Conversely, some kids may find themselves struggling to keep up in one or several subjects. Even kids who do very well in certain areas may not excel in others, causing them to withdraw and complain of boredom because they are unable to understand what is being taught. Kids who are lagging behind their classmates often feel anxiety and start to experience the beginnings of low self-esteem. If your child seems to excel on simple tasks such as those requiring repetition, yet cannot grasp other subjects, they may need to be assessed for learning-related issues. Often all that is required is additional support from tutors, their teacher or other professionals to help the child catch up.
Alone in a Crowd – Overcrowded classrooms may create feelings of isolation for kids who are used to lots of attention or hand-holding from their teacher. Kids graduating from elementary school may also experience less one-on-one connection with their teachers than they are used to, causing them to withdraw and complain about boredom or feelings of not being liked by the teacher. Kids like this need more personal attention to thrive and may do better in a smaller school or classroom setting.
Parents should discuss their child’s boredom, no matter what the suspected cause, with the teacher. This will provide additional insight into the situation and hopefully, resolution.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.