Seven-year-old May is curious, intelligent, and generous. She is full of life and gets along well with her friends. Kindergarten was a breeze, first grade could not have gone better. Then, around the first week of second grade, she started to wake up with a stomachache. “I don’t like school,” she said, “and I don’t want to go anymore.” Then there’s Jake, a seventh grader who often stays up too late playing video games and moves so slowly in the morning he misses the bus. “I don’t like school!” he told his dad. “It’s like going to prison!”
Rafael, and older student, is on the verge of dropping out of high school. “I’m bored, and it feels like a huge waste of time,” he said. “Nothing they teach has anything to do with my life, and besides, I need to start earning money to help my family.” Students in every age group struggle with disliking school. But there are ways to help them, which can make a huge difference for their future. Here are 10 ways to keep students engaged in school.
Table of Contents
- 1 1. Create opportunities to connect with peers.
- 2 2. Make sleep a priority.
- 3 3. Provide reading support
- 4 Reading impacts everything Once a child falls behind in reading, his or her grades and confidence suffer. Tutoring, encouragement, and practice at home are critical from the early grades.
- 5 4. Engaged children feel less restricted.
1. Create opportunities to connect with peers.
There is a lot we can do to equip our children for relationships. Get to know other dads and moms, coach a team, and sponsor class activities. Create opportunities for your kids to be with other kids. When children feel isolated, school is neither nurturing nor safe.
2. Make sleep a priority.
A National Health study in the United Kingdom labeled lack of sleep “a hidden health crisis.” Staying up late with unsupervised screen time affects attendance, concentration, performance, and behavior. Kids who get enough sleep tend to like school more and show an increase in student engagement.
3. Provide reading support
Reading impacts everything Once a child falls behind in reading, his or her grades and confidence suffer. Tutoring, encouragement, and practice at home are critical from the early grades.
4. Engaged children feel less restricted.
Most students feel “hemmed in” at some time or other. “Joyful learning,” Peter Gray argues in Psychology Today, “requires freedom.” Children crave freedom. They are kids, and they don’t like to be restricted, hedged in, and told what to do. In the short-term, get involved in PTA as a volunteer, encourage your child’s teacher to be imaginative, and be a positive part of the solution. In the long-term, invest yourself in the ongoing conversation around what education might look like going forward.