Nearly every child claims he would rather stay home than go to school. Luckily, most kids actually enjoy their daily routine, their friends, and their activities.
But some children have genuine trouble with school. Getting them to go becomes a daily struggle for their frustrated parents. Does this sound like your child?
Look for the Signs
First, determine if your young student is posturing or honestly dislikes school. If he gripes and grumbles every morning but manages to get out the door, backpack filled and shoes tied, his objections probably are related more to the hassle of leaving home.
If your child complains about homework and teachers, but nevertheless arrives home in a good mood and happily chatters about her friends, she is adjusting normally.
But, if your child complains of stomach aches or headaches; looks tired and worn out from lack of sleep; loses his appetite; or loses interest in his friends and family activities, you could have a very real problem.
Listen, Then Act
Encourage your son or daughter to talk about school. Even kindergartners can articulate distress. Listen for the underlying fears and insecurities. She may say she "hates" her teacher but the problem may be she is unsure of her reading or math skills.
You child may insist that no one likes him but in fact he's frightened of a schoolyard bully or hasn't been asked to join the playground soccer game.
Make note of what your child says about school. Wait a week or so and then ask again. Once you decide that there is a pattern or a persistent problem, call your child's teacher. Approach the conversation as a problem-solving one -- not a time to lay blame.
Consider visiting the classroom. Spending a morning observing the class could be extremely helpful. If you have time, offer to help with a classroom project or trip. Your participation will please your child.
Make a point of talking to your child everyday about school. Even a few minutes are better than nothing.
Talk about your own memories of school. Did you enjoy it? Why or why not? Could you unwittingly be passing on your own prejudices?
If your child is old enough for homework, carve out an uncluttered space and regular time for her to complete it. Be available for help.
Note school activities on the family calendar so that no one forgets - and your children see the importance you place on them.
Encourage your child to organize his homework, clothes, backpack, and anything else needed for school the night before. This will make the mornings more manageable and less stressful.
Provide some time everyday for play and unstructured activity. Laugh and joke with your schoolchild -- this reassures her that life goes happily on.
Let your child invite friends over to play. Make it fun. Ask the group simple questions about school and try to get them to laugh about schoolyard escapades.
More Extreme Measures
Rarely is the problem solely with the classroom teacher or your child's classmates, but if you decide it is, take action. Before you request a classroom change, be sure of the issues. Understandably, schools are reluctant to do this but with enough good reasons and parental insistence, most will.
If you discover your child has trouble reading or mastering some other important aspect of learning, investigate tutoring or after-school help. Talk to the teacher first.
Be sure your child understands that getting an education is important. Fill the house with books, magazines, games, and projects. Encourage learning on every level.
Finally, relax with your child, let him know that you're proud of each and every one of his achievements.