Many children claim that they hate school, and they may ask or beg not to go. This can be a signal that your child is having difficulty making friends, is having problems with other students, or has a learning challenge. Talking with your child and working closely with the school can help reduce a child's dislike. Kids may not always enjoy going to class, but as problems are dealt with, it may seem a less threatening place. Remember also that a child is not likely to respect a school or his or her teachers unless you pay them due respect as well.
Children may dislike school for very valid reasons. These can be broken down into three categories: social ostracism, learning challenges, and difficulty functioning in the environment, as with kids with hyperactivity. All of these reasons should be taken seriously, and investigated. The first thing a parent must do is find out what is causing problems at school. Talk to kids first, and let them explain any problems. When children can't give you enough information, talk to the child's teachers, as many have a lot of ideas about what may be causing difficulties.
A child who has no friends, for example, may find school a very lonely place. If the child is unsuccessful at making friends, ask the assistance of a teacher or the principal in pairing the child with another person who might need a friend as well. Schools often get new students too, and a child without friends might volunteer to be the "tour guide" for a new student in his or her class.
Many schools have friendship clubs that can help a child learn the ways to be a good friend. Often, kids who attend friendship clubs end up becoming friends as they practice new social skills. Alternately, new skills may be practiced on longtime classmates. Parents can facilitate by setting up play dates in the afternoon or on weekends for kids to try out friendship in a less competitive environment.
In some cases, a child doesn't like school because of teasing or bullying. Even though most schools have zero tolerance policies about such behavior, unless the teasing is directly observed, it may not be obvious to teachers or staff. Finding out from a child if there are one or more kids making life difficult can help put an end to bullying. It's important to stay proactive on this, and continue to report any instances of a return of bullying or teasing behavior.
Children who are having a hard time keeping up with the academics may also claim to hate school. It has to be very difficult for a child to realize that everyone else seems to be able to understand things that elude him or her. Answering questions wrong or getting poor grades are good indications that the child is challenged, perhaps too much, by the curricula.
Overall poor performance in school and on standardized tests suggests kids may have learning challenges or learning differences. If a child's performance has declined, you should ask for your child to be tested to rule out learning disabilities. When any disabilities are identified, assistance from the school can result in a more positive attitude.
Kids with attentional disorders often find the very act of sitting still challenging and difficult. Further, a teacher may inadvertently worsen dislike of school by calling attention to the problem repeatedly, or by punishing the child for failure to focus. Often, such punishment means inaccessibility to things like recess, the one chance the child has to burn off the energy that keeps him or her from being still.
Being aware of attentional issues is important to the parent because he or she can help the teacher arrive at a system of rewards, rather than punishment, for behavior. When a child is diagnosed with any type of learning disorder, schools can make specific plans, called Individualized Education Programs (IEP) for dealing with ongoing issues.
Learning disabilities and poor attention span may result in social ostracism. Therefore, a child with problems academically may also have fewer friends. Unfortunately, too, kids often judge other children on not only how they behave now, but also how they behaved in the past. So allowing your child to have a first chance with new schoolmates is ideal, since these students don't have years of accumulated memories about the child.