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Why Do Some Kids Love School?

School is pretty much a job that we give to kids.  Like the jobs we have as adults it is the place you must show up to every day, even when you don’t want to go.  The business of learning is work.  It involves mental focus and self-discipline.  That discipline is an important part of how school shapes kids.

The important knowledge and skills that classes such as math, science, history, languages, and English are critical to helping children become well-rounded, intelligent adults but the self-discipline it takes to show up every day, work with others and finish the assigned work might be the most important skill school can instill in us.

The work that kids must put into school and the social anxiety that can come from learning how to interact with other people every day should make it easy to understand why many kids struggle with school.  School can be an unpleasant experience for kids with learning disabilities, kids who have a conflict with teachers, kids who have social anxiety, kids who are bullied, and kids who struggle with the self-discipline you need to be a good student.  Some people simply don’t like school, and some even go as far as being scared to death of going to school (known as Didaskaleinophobia).

So, if school has the potential to be such an unpleasant experience, why do some kids love school so much?  We all went to school with some classmates who were full of enthusiasm and clearly enjoyed their classes.  What can we do to encourage any child to have a positive experience in school and have a huge smile on their face when they step foot into school?  It is possible to make school a place that even kids who were less than excited about going to school come to love.  We explore five ways to make sure kids love school.

1. Make learning interactive and creative.

Different kids have different learning styles.  Some kids can do well with traditional learning.  They can listen to a lecture, take notes, read textbooks and study, and earn good grades on quizzes and test.  That simply isn’t the case with many kids.  For them, learning needs to be an active, creative process.  They need to be presented with choices in how they will approach learning and they need to be up from their desks and engaged in learning activities.  Even students who do well with traditional teaching methods benefit from this approach.  An engaged student who is empowered to make choices is far more likely to love school.

2. Adults should be role models.

Kids look to adults to model how to behave.  Attitude is contagious!  Every day children are essentially at the mercy of adults.  They must listen to their parents, teachers, coaches, instructors, principals, guidance councilors and other adults.  It is important for kids to be taught respect for adults, but it is also import for adults who are parents or work with kids to remember how much their own attitude affect the kids they are in contact with every day.  If their teachers and the other adults at school enjoy being there then so will the kids.

3. Adults are not the only ones who need work/life balance.

When you become an adult, it can be easy to envy kids their freedom.  With the pressures of bills, work, and parenting it can seem like kids have it easy by comparison.  Today, kids are under a lot of pressure to make good grades, be involved in multiple extracurricular activities and deal with the social pressures of school, which have only become more intense thanks to social media.  In order for them to love school, they need help balancing their schedule.  It is important for them to figure out how to manage their schoolwork, extracurricular activities and free time without becoming overscheduled and stressed out.  With a healthy work/life balance, they will be able to love school.

4. Help kids identify their interests and strengths.

Part of growing up is figuring who you are, what your interests are and what direction you want your life to go in.  That is a tall order!  Kids need room to experiment with different classes and different extracurricular activities.  Some they may quickly give up on.  Others may radically shape who they become and what they do with their life.  Their parents, teachers and the other adults around them should support this process.

5. Foster an environment that is supportive of all kids.

There is a growing awareness of the effect that school bullying and the toxic morass of the online world has on children and their development.  It is crucial for schools to actively promote a school environment that encourages kids who are struggling socially and experiencing bullying to seek help.  It is also crucial for that help to be available.  Too often children who tried to get help were dismissed and bullying was seen as normal childhood behavior.  For kids to love school it needs to be a place they feel safe, respected and listened to.  It also needs to be a place they can develop healthy friendships that enrich their lives.