Is Your Kid Bored at School?

Why do kids get bored at school, and what can you do about it?

bored boy at school
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When a child comes home from school complaining that she’s bored, many parents are torn as to how to handle the complaint. Depending on your child’s temperament, you may be inclined to dismiss her claims or you may be ready to jump up, call her teacher and tell her your child isn’t being challenged. 

Why is My Child Bored?

For children, a complaint of boredom can mean many different things, not all of which translate to “I’m not being challenged.” There are four main reasons kids complain of being bored at school: they are under-challenged, under-motivated, feel unconnected or are lacking skills.

“I’m bored” can also translate to an array of different things, which can vary greatly from child to child. A few examples:

  • I don’t like what we’re doing in school.
  • I don’t want to do what the teacher is asking me to do.
  • I don’t understand how to do my work.
  • The assignment doesn’t make sense to me.
  • I don’t have the skills needed to keep up with the rest of the class.
  • I’m depressed or anxious.
  • I feel like the teacher doesn’t like/understand/listen to me.

    Finding out what your child really means can be as simple as asking her to explain what she means by "bored." If that doesn’t work, you may need to dig a little deeper by talking to the teacher and evaluating whether or not your child has been showing signs of trouble in school or is having a tough time making friends.

    Is Being Bored Always a Bad Thing?

    In a review of research of boredom published in the Cambridge Journal of Education, authors Teresa Belton and Esther Priyadharshini note that while being bored at school is typically seen as negative, researchers suggest that boredom can be an important component in creativity.

    Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld, author of the book The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap, notes that boredom can foster creativity, leading kids to listen to the inner voice that helps them craft unusual stories or artistic pictures.

    My Kid Really Isn’t Challenged

    Some children already reap the benefits of boredom--they’re creative, on task and able to sort through and retain information--but still complain of being bored.

    If this is the case, it’s very likely that your child isn’t feeling challenged by the work in the classroom.

    It’s time to speak to the teacher about providing in-class enrichment or your child and/or having your child tested to see if she qualifies for gifted and talented programs. Note that enrichment in the form of extra homework will not solve the problem in the classroom, and your child may see it as a punishment.

    My Kid is Bored, Too

    Even if your child isn’t gifted, she can be bored by the way the material is being presented. Some teachers are simply not tuned-in to the need to teach in a way that engages all the students.

    When your child’s learning style isn’t being supported in the classroom, it’s time to schedule a parent-teacher conference to sit down and discuss how your child’s needs can be accommodated in the classroom. Once accommodations are put into place, you’ll probably hear less complaining about being bored in school.

    Sometimes School Is Boring

    The fact is that sometimes school is boring. ​That’s not to say that being bored should always be looked at as an opportunity to tap into creativity or a need to have your child tested for giftedness or a learning disability

    Sometimes kids need to be encouraged to stick with something they find boring at first.

    Over time, the child may become more engaged and interested in the task at hand. Recognizing that learning is not always exciting and can sometimes be a little dull can help students to be a bigger part of the learning process. It allows them to find news ways to extend upon or approach the material they find boring.