Where there are kids, there are complaints about school—big and small. As a parent, these complaints can feel disheartening, and you may feel helpless in the face of them. But relax, and know this: They're totally normal. And you're not helpless. Check out these fix-it strategies for four common kid-complaints about school.
When your child says school is too hard, take some time to talk with him to figure out the source of frustration. If your child is older, he may be able to point to a specific subject or class concept. In that case, you or another family member may be able to help your child out with the challenging homework in that class, answering any of your child's questions. Or, have your child work with a "study buddy"—another classmate—or find a tutor who could help fill in the gaps.
If your child is younger, she may not be able to articulate exactly what's wrong. Setting up an appointment to talk with your child's teacher as a check-in can be extremely helpful, and it can get both of you on the same page. In any case, showing your child how to break down larger, harder tasks into more manageable chunks can decrease frustration.
If your child complains about not liking her teacher, ask her to explain why. Is it the amount of work the teacher assigns, or how the teacher speaks and interacts with classmates? If it's about homework, you may need to have a conversation with your child about how she won't always like every single thing required in school.
However, if the issue is more personal—inconsiderate or even disrespectful behavior toward your child—consider talking with the teacher or a school administrator. Approach the teacher by asking for his or her point of view so you can try to come to a place of understanding, as your child may have a limited—though obviously important—perspective on the situation.
Along with difficulty, every student may experience at least a bit of boredom at some point in school. One way to respond to this complaint is checking your child's school-life balance. Is he or she spending a lot of (maybe too much?) time on academic pursuits alone, versus mixing it up with extracurricular activities and hobbies? If so, you can suggest ways to help your child better manage that time, letting him or her know school is important, but not the only important thing in life.
Similarly, if the boredom is minor, have your child create and keep a gratitude list—recording interesting things that happened throughout the day or things that he or she learned. This can help your child sustain a positive, yet realistic outlook on school. Finally, students may be bored because certain class concepts are too easy for them. If you find this is the case, explore small ways to challenge your child.
If your child simply doesn't want to get out of bed to go to school, reflect on your bedtime and morning habits. Is she getting enough sleep? Does she have adequate time to get ready in the morning, without feeling rushed? Is she able to eat a balanced breakfast? Tiredness can come from not sleeping well, obviously, but also from not eating well.
Plan or tweak your routines so that lunches and outfits are picked out and backpacks are packed the night before. Also consider giving your child a few morning responsibilities so she can have something to look forward to and take ownership of during that time of day.
Above all else, it's important to pinpoint exactly what it is that's really bothering your child about school—and discover if it really is exactly what he was complaining about. And don't forget other resources, such as school counselors, teachers, or other trusted adults in the school, can provide another outlet for your child to share his feelings.
Lisa Low is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.