Happy students are one thing, but how engaged are they in learning?
It’s a Wednesday afternoon and you’re waiting in the car after navigating the school pick up queue. Your child opens the door, throws their backpack on to the seat next to them and lets out a heavy sigh. You ask, “how was school today?” and their response is, “boring”.
Every day, you receive the same response.
You don’t ask any questions, though you think to yourself, why is my child bored at school? Is he/she gifted?
Reasons for boredom in the classroom
As a parent, it is understandable for you to consider whether your child might be gifted due to the boredom they experience in the classroom. This could be the case. However, there are many reasons why students become bored at school other than giftedness.
- The work is too easy
Often, all students in the class are assigned the same task. For some students, the task may be viewed as underwhelming and fail to match their abilities. This can lead to boredom and disengagement when asked to learn what they already know. Such students are not always considered to be gifted but are usually highly capable.
- The work is too hard
For some students, the assigned task may be viewed as overwhelming. This may be because the work is beyond their current level of ability or simply because the work wasn’t explained in a way that they understand. This can also lead to boredom, frustration and potentially giving up on school entirely.
- Lack of interest
At times, a student’s boredom in class may be due to a lack of interest in the subject being taught. If they are not enjoying what they are learning, they may choose to withdraw or engage in another activity which can easily be misunderstood as bad behaviour.
- Lack of relevance
In some cases, the student may lack motivation because they feel as though what they are learning isn’t personally relevant to them. The student may believe that therefore, it isn’t worth their time or attention.
- Teaching methods are not engaging
Our teachers are expected to keep a class of 30 children with varying abilities and levels of interest engaged in a single subject at a time. That is far from easy! As teachers teach the curriculum, what engages one student will not necessarily engage another. The desk time might be too long, the instructions too detailed or the examples not interesting enough.
Your child may relate to any one or more of the above reasons which cause boredom when learning at school. The question is, which one? Does the bar set by the school curriculum contribute to this boredom?
Is the bar too low?
Compared to other countries in Asia-Pacific, Australia has a lower percentage of high achievers. This is likely due to the failure of the Australian Curriculum to recognise the wide varying capabilities of students within each year group.
The approach to teaching the Australian Curriculum assumes that all students in a particular year group have comparable capabilities. This means that the highly capable students are being assigned the same work as students with learning difficulties, simply because they are in the same year level.
As I mention in my book, ‘Who Cares About Maths, Anyway’, the Australian Curriculum appears to give little guidance to schools as to how to engage and teach gifted students. In primary school, gifted students are often not identified.
This failure to address individual learning needs has increased the incidence of boredom, seen as the enemy of learning.
Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, teachers must be skilled in setting different tasks for groups of students. However, this may not happen without the involvement and encouragement of parents.
What you can do as a parent
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to support your child’s learning. Showing a genuine interest in your child’s learning will contribute to their progress and success.
So, what can you do if your child is experiencing boredom at school?
- Ask them questions – follow up with questions the next time you ask them about their day at school. Examples include:
- What subject did you find boring?
- Why was it boring?
- Did you understand what the teacher was saying?
- Were you able to finish the assigned task? Did you finish it early?
- Speak with their teacher – after finding out more from your child, meet with their teacher and let them know how your child is feeling. Discuss approaches to help your child engage based on their learning needs
- Address their learning needs – if discussions with the teacher don’t yield any positive outcomes, consider tutoring that caters to their specific needs, allowing them to learn at their own pace
Helping your child alleviate their boredom at school is as simple as starting with a conversation.
If you require further and more targeted support, you can book a free consultation with us. Please call 1300 001 432 and we can help assess your child’s learning needs beyond looking at performance at their expected age.