For some parents, pushing their children to do well in school becomes a priority. They feel that the harder they work when they are young, the greater the rewards they will experience as adults. They’ll have access to more higher education and the top jobs.
Kids, though, often have different plans. They’re not particularly interested in spending their evenings and weekends studying. Instead, they want to have fun and enjoy the process of being a child. The idea of becoming a prefect or head boy/girl might not be something they strive to achieve. Children regularly view the world entirely differently from the way we, as parents, do.
How much should parents be pushing their children’s educational attainment?
For many, it is a question of missed opportunities. Their children seem bright and yet they don’t “apply themselves” in ways that would allow them to reach for the top grades. They seem content taking a backseat and just allowing their lives to unfold naturally. They’re not hunched over their desks every night, learning about every subject under the sun. This attitude can sometimes make parents feel as though they aren’t pushing their children hard enough.
Sometimes teachers will add fuel to the fire. They will tell parents that their kids aren’t putting in enough effort at school and aren’t working hard enough. They will say things like, “Your child could achieve excellent results, if only he put in more effort.”
Statements like these make parents feel as though their children are missing out. A better life is within their reach but, for whatever reason, they don’t want to take it.
Of course, to understand this situation, you have to put yourself in the mind of the child. If they are 13 years old now, they will not be thinking about what their lives will be like at 45. That’s just so much time for them (even though it goes by quickly for adults).
Instead, they are focusing on how they can enjoy themselves here and now. They want to have fun more than anything else. So the moment learning stops being fun, they will avoid it.
One issue could be the type of school your child is attending. There is a big difference between an SEN school and a regular mainstream school. There are also large contrasts between sports schools that focus more on physical movement and academic schools that concentrate on history and geography.
What’s the best approach?
Actually, as with most things child-related, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Pushing one child to their limits might work well, but for another, it might make them less keen to be conscientious with their studies. Knowing your children’s desires and motivations can be helpful.
The trick isn’t to try to bully a child into working harder. In fact, working hard might be a bit of a misnomer. A better approach might be to encourage them to work better. For instance, if you can work with your child’s desire for fun, they will be much more likely to apply themselves.
Part of the solution comes down to how you interact with teachers. Sometimes, the reason a child doesn’t want to apply themselves has to do with their learning style. Other times, kids genuinely aren’t interested in particular subjects – especially sports and maths, usually because they’ve had some sort of traumatic experience. On many occasions, they compare themselves to their peers and ask themselves how they could perform better.
If you’re stuck, speak to your child. Try not to force anything. Instead, gain a better understanding of the situation and use it to your advantage.