I’m Learning To Accept That My 9-Year-Old Flat Out Hates School

girl writing on chalk boardThere are certain aspects about your own children that I’m sure sometimes surprise you. For example, perhaps your child has a completely different personality then you. Luckily, both my children, like me, are super laid back. But when it comes to my 9-year-old daughter, there is one thing I’m constantly surprised about. She just does not like school.

When I was a child, I loved school. I loved high school. I loved university. I loved writing essays and taking tests. I even loved studying. My daughter however does not like anything about school. She doesn’t like homework. She doesn’t even seem to like learning in a classroom setting. She would rather read books on her own. Ask her any fact about any animal and she will be able to tell you. In short, she does not like school!

She loves her teacher and her friends and for someone who doesn’t like doing homework or studying, she gets away pretty much with grades that are better than average, even acing tests.

Now that summer is almost upon us, I say to her each and every morning, “You only have six more weeks to go!” because she is constantly moaning about hating school. It’s pretty much the only thing that will get her out of bed.

When I take my daughter out of school to get a shot at the doctors or to go to the dentist, she gets so excited. It’s almost as if I have told her that I am taking her to Disneyland. The girl would rather get a fucking shot than go to class.

Because I knew I was going to write this post, I asked her point blank how she feels every day when she has to go to school.

“I feel terrible,” she answered.

It’s not that she doesn’t have friends. She has a lot of them. And, like I said, she loves her teacher. She just doesn’t like school.

Be Sociable, Share!
You can reach this post's author, Rebecca Eckler, on twitter.
Be Sociable, Share!
  • cheyhorn

    It sounds like she’s bored. The traditional school setting doesn’t work for every kid. My daughter attends a year-round school that is self – paced ( she’s in high school). There is no homework. She does everything in class. She’s never been happier in school. You might see what alternatives there are in your area.

    • Ashley

      I too was thinking she may just not be challenged enough at her current school, or her current class/grade.

  • Justme

    I agree with you on the point about higher education. My father taught high school autobody for thirty years and sent many so-called “trouble makers” onto technical colleges where the young men studied autobody or mechanical repair and then went on to make quite decent money as repairmen. College and university is not meant for everyone….BUT there is some sort of higher education that WILL suit everyone’s needs.

    And as far as your daughter not liking school – what kind of curriculum and teaching strategies are the teachers using? Is it rote memory kind of stuff – read this, answer that, or is it more project based learning that allows students the opportunity to not just “learn” but instead explore and discover?

    I ask this because my school district is in the midst of a curriculum overhaul and philosophy shift – teachers are being…ahem…”encouraged” to include more project-based-learning activities that incorporate technology and choice rather than a dictated set of notes with worksheets and a multiple choice test. The idea is that kids today have all sorts of knowledge at their fingertips so we don’t have to focus their education on the who, what and when. Instead we must get them to understand the WHY and the HOW or the WHAT IF. Those are the skills that the 21st learner or the “technology natives” are going to need to have in order to be adults that think critically and keep moving the world forward.

    In the past few months that I’ve been testing this method of teaching out on my students that they are MUCH more excited and engaged in the learning process. Of course, I still have those students who prefer the old-fashioned “tell me what I need to learn and I’ll do it thankyouverymuch” style of teaching so I’ve tried to integrate all types of lessons that will inspire a wide range of learning styles.

  • CMJ

    Is there a performing arts high school/middle school in your area? That might be something you could look into….but, they DO teach other subjects (math, English, science, etc) because being on Broadway is not an easy task….and you should have other skills to fall back on.

    • Blooming_Babies

      Great suggestion.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      Rebecca lives in Toronto, so I’m pretty sure there’s an option at least for high school if not the lower grades.

  • blh

    Lol most kids don’t like school. I honestly have met very few that do nor do I understand what their possibly is to like about being made to do work, alot of which you’ll never need to know. Who cares whether she likes it, as long as she gets good grades. You’re very lucky. I hated school and refused to do much work. That would be a problem.

  • Lashatumbai

    My stepson HATES it as well. His teacher and I agree that the standard classroom model is not ideal for his energetic personality. I wish there were more options, because it is a struggle for him.

  • http://twitter.com/TwAlexLee Alex Lee

    While reading this article, the thought in the back of my mind initially was:

    “is she being bullied?”

    That’s the far-worse reason for a child to suddenly lose interest in school. Hopefully someone else might read this and consider this other possibility.

    Similar to your daughter, my son asked whether the geometry homework he’s recently tasked with would be necessary for him in the future. I tried to relay the concept that being able to take instruction (in this case a formula to calculate area) and apply that correctly is VERY relevant to ANY NUMBER of professions.

    Being able to memorize facts, recall them appropriately, have rational discussion, summarize a work of literature, perform a sonata – these are all great skills to have, not just to work, but to LIVE.

    Tourist: “How do you get to Broadway?”
    Cabbie: “PRACTICE!”

    • Jenn

      I didn’t like school because I was being bullied.. and I had to face my bully every single day in class. I remember elementary school being the worst

  • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

    I absolutely HATED school, but I love learning. I also love the community college I’m going to and I’m actually looking forward to going to a local university.

    I think that a lot of people who don’t like school are pleasantly surprised once they go off to college and learn that they can choose their own schedules and they don’t have to sit at an uncomfortable desk for 8 hours straight. It’s just that most who don’t like school don’t even try college out, which is really unfortunate.

    I think that if she loves learning she’ll start to like school as soon as she’s not forced to be there every second of every day

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.white.3532507 Paul White

    I honestly don’t get how anyone actually likes school. God knows I never did. Still had to finish it though.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    A couple of possibilities come to mind. First, age. I remember loathing the whole concept school as a preteen even though I generally enjoyed myself once I was there. Second, bullying. Even if she has friends, one specific kid or group could be treating her badly and she doesn’t want to share it. Third, a health issue (physical or mental). A checkup at the doctor might be in order, or even just a lifestyle adjustment such as more sleep. Look into some of the academic issues for sure, but anyone’s situation is complex and it could be any of those factors. Like you say, maybe she’s just not that academic and will just have to get through until she can carve out her own path. Fortunately, in high school she is likely to have many more options to take classes she enjoys. And if she ends up going to college, she can customize even more. Best of luck.

  • http://www.facebook.com/houde.veronique Véronique Houde

    Yeah, well… I was of the group that LOOOOOVED school. I mostly always paid attention in class, got excited about getting good grades… and was bullied. So yeah, every kid is different.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brandy.barnett.79 Brandy Barnett

    This is my problem with all the budget cuts and testing mandates that push out the arts, physical education, and hands on learning from the schools. For some kids, drama or music class is the carrot that boosts their confidence and motivates them to trod through the rest of their day. Steve Jobs hated school except when he was challenged and interested. He was fortunate that his parents realized that it was a problem with the educational system itself and didnt pile the blame on him. It sounds like your daughter is lucky that way also.

    • Sara

      YES YES YES. Although since this is a private school, my hope is that they haven’t cut out art, music, etc. from the school day. But in terms of public schools, I completely agree with you about the need for fine arts, PE, recess, etc. in the school day.

      To Eckler, I would say to look into the root causes of WHY she hates school. Most 9-year-olds don’t leap out of bed in the morning singing about how much they love going to school, but if she says she likes her teacher and she likes her friends. It may be something that could fairly easily be addressed. If she’s bored, the teacher may be able to give her enrichment work. If she’s having social problems, that may be able to be fixed too. If the material is too hard for her, you can look into tutoring.

      If, however, it really is that she just wants to be a singer and doesn’t understand why she has to learn academics, well, that’s pretty typical 9-year-old rhetoric and it’s your job as the parent to tell her to “suck it up, buttercup” and go to school and do her best because it’s her job. My parents always used to say, “A parent’s job is to work and provide for our kids. We don’t always like going to work, but we do it because it’s our job. Your job is to go to school and do your best.”

  • Lindsey

    My daughter hated elementary school. She liked (most of) her teachers, she liked seeing her friends, and she LOVED the principal (he used to pull her out of class once or twice a week to help him with stuff) but she didn’t like being in class. For us, the problem was mainly the other kids in class; when you have advanced kids and remedial kids in the same class lessons are either boring for one group or too hard for the other group. She also got severely annoyed when kids acted out in class. Now that she is in Junior High and is in all advanced classes she enjoys school. She no longer tried to stay home; no fake sickness and she even wants to go when she IS sick! Your daughter may enjoy school later too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/valerisexton.jones Valeri Jones

    First of all, I would just like to address the fact that I actually LIKE an Eckler article… I’m sure there are pigs flying above my house at this very moment.

    Secondly…. Rebecca, I highly disagree that post-secondary education isn’t for everybody. Maybe not everybody would LIKE it, but truthfully, with the economy the way it is, there just isn’t much of a job market for people who only have a high school diploma. I agree with a lot of the other commenters who are saying that you should address the reason she doesn’t like it. If she’s acing tests and making good grades, I would say that the problem is simply that it isn’t challenging enough for her. I know that I REALLY got into school once I was in high school and had classes like History, where my teacher made it interesting by only teaching us highly controversial aspects of history – Roe v. Wade, Clinton’s Impeachment, etc. Try to find something that interests her and talk to her school about changing her curriculum to better suit her. With your connections and money (NOT being snarky here!), there is really no limit to how you can tweak her education to make it better for her.

  • Idaho

    So WHY are you sending her to school?! She likes learning, so she would probably do very well in a homeschool or online school. She can do outside activities (like camp) for social interaction.

    The way many (most?) schools are run these days, they are little more than institutionalized child serfdom. My mother thankfully recognized this and kept me out. I did go to a public high school (loved it) and college (loved class, hated the debt).

    My husband did public school until he dropped out and ran away at 16. Guess what? He’s smarter than I am. The one thing we both learned from class was to hate punching the clock and sitting still all day. We’re farmers now :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/megan.baznikwilson Megan Baznik-Wilson

    My son hated school at the beginning of second grade, and even more so at the beginning of third grade. The biggest problem was that he was bored(and we found out in 3rd grade, had ADHD on top of it). He taught himself multiplication the summer after kindergarten and was reading Junie B Jones books in one evening my midway through 1st grade. When I looked at his second grade math book, there wasn’t a single concept in it that he didn’t already know. There were a handful of new vocabulary words, but he already knew the concept, just not the name. He was much happier when the school allowed him to take reading/language arts and math with the grade above. It started all over again in third grade, only worse. This time his teacher was awful too, and the school switched to Saxon Math(scripted and operations based with little to no theory or why, only how) so they tried to make him repeat third grade math. We had to fight the school for weeks, and he did have to repeat third grade reading/language arts. They finally allowed him to skip to 4th grade the day after state testing was over. He’s now in his last week of fifth grade and is much happier socially, but he’s still bored academically. He just learns the concepts faster than other students. And there is no room in Saxon Math for differentiation. He had to teach himself how to divide fractions, because the way Saxon taught sudents to do it makes no sense. It works, but it ignores the underlying concept of why/how you can divide fractions. I am just thankful that the Jr. High does not use Saxon.

  • Bran Chesterton

    I have to recommend to you the book “How Children Succeed”. It’s really interesting, and explains/decodes some of the non-measurable “skills” that, if developed in children, are the best indicators of their future success at whatever they want to do. Among them are determination, self-soothing/self-motivating, and a sort of “I can get through what I need to do” attitude. A life-long study about kids who were in kindergarten programs found that the kindergarten didn’t matter – the real indicator of success was whether they had those skills, and graduating from high school (rather than dropping out OR getting a GED) was one way they were able to mark who had that sort of stick-to-it-ive-ness.

    Long story short, it’s a great book for parents of kids who are smart, because there are things parents can do to encourage those sort of follow throughs. As a very intelligent child I was much the same as your daughter, and my parents were rather proud of my “smarts”, but I believe I was done a disservice generally speaking by people allowing me to coast by. I definitely could have used some coaching while I was young on determination, organization, and hard work paying off (rather than intelligence getting you by with little work).

  • Hansol Yoon

    I was the typical Asian student (straight-A’s, one B in middle school, etc., valedictorian in high school, blah blah blah). I’ll say this now. I liked school until 2nd grade, and since then, I dreaded every f***ing day. Funny thing was that I never had a reason to dislike school. I wasn’t teased, bullied, or anything. I just found it to be mind-numbingly boring.

    So I can sort of relate to your daughter in that respect, but hopefully, your daughter does get through school.

    • Hansol Yoon

      Oh yeah, I’m a senior in college now, so if I calculated it right, I’ve hated school for just about 16 years. NO idea how I got this far.

  • Jenn

    I didn’t like school when I was younger.. but that was because I did not enjoy the classroom setting in elementary school. Maybe it will be different later on..

  • idiot

    learn the difference between then and than, you’re a poor excuse for a writer

  • Jen

    My son hates school – he is 10. He sees it as jail and gets major anxiety during his school day and when thinking about the work he has to do. He has a huge amount of work to do and has a very difficult time completing it – and seldom without tears or a complete break down. He has an IEP and it’s a total joke. I am so worried that he is being set up to hate education and will simply rebel and drop out. I’d like to homeschool him but I have to work.

    It’s so hard to see your child struggle. My son would also rather endure a trip to the doctor or dentist instead of enduring a school day.