It’s not uncommon for children to complain once in a while that school is boring. Usually what they are telling you is they don’t enjoy the topic or skill that they are learning at the time or that they’d rather have had less desk time. For some children, being bored at school is an ongoing complaint, one that causes real distress and can even lead to school avoidance or school refusal behaviors.
Why Are Kids Bored at School?
Some parents jump to the conclusion that their child is gifted, that the work is too easy for him and that’s why he’s bored. Other parents jump to the conclusion that it is the teacher who is unsuccessful and not presenting the material in a way that engages the students. While both of these are valid assumptions, they’re not the only reasons kids are bored in school.
Kids get bored in school because they are:
Bright students who don’t need a lot of instruction to master a skill or start out ahead of the rest of the class often complain of being bored at school. What they’re really telling you is they are not being challenged by the work in the classroom.
Students who are under-challenged aren’t always gifted--there are specific qualifications for that but they are typically very capable and very smart. Surprisingly, these children don’t always present that way. In fact many under-challenged students are sloppy in their work, don’t study much (though still get good grades) and tend to zoom right through their work without much in the way of editing or rechecking.
Under-motivated students also complain of being bored in school, but not because they already know what’s being taught. This complaint is different. Often “school is boring” is paired with “that’s why I don’t do the work” or “that’s why I don’t pay attention.”
An under-motivated child is not the same as a lazy child. In some cases, the lack of motivation is tied in to a feeling that what he’s learning isn’t personally important, that the learning process has no meaning for him and his life. In other situations, a lack of motivation can be the sign of an underlying issue, such as childhood depression, ADHD or a learning disability.
Children who have trouble forging a connection with their peers and/or their teacher may be bored in school because they feel very isolated. If your child hasn’t built a comfortable relationship with anyone in his classroom, he may feel as though he has nowhere to turn when he needs help with the work.
That, in turn, can cause him to tune out, making him feel as though he is “bored.” What he’s really experiencing is the need for some encouragement that he’s a part of the classroom community.
Not all students have the skills they need to be successful in the classroom. Whether that’s because your child has learning deficits caused by a disability or because he hasn’t been taught in a way that’s most conducive to his learning style is really not of importance.
The bottom line is that if a child is saying he’s bored because he doesn’t know how to study for tests, create a plan for a long-term project or write a paragraph, what he really means is “I don’t know how to do this, so I don’t even want to try.”
The reasons get bored at school aren’t mutually exclusive, either. You can have an under-challenged, unconnected child with poor test-taking skills just as easily as a child who is simply unmotivated. The trick is to discover what your child is really telling you when he says “I’m bored at school” before jumping to conclusions.