Want to learn how to get your child interested in school instead of dreading every minute of it? Here are 6 surprising ways to teach the value and importance of school.
It’s bad enough that school days far outnumber non-school days, but to deal with your child’s resistance every day makes your mornings even worse.
School drop offs and homework battles become epic power struggles that leave you doubly exhausted. His reluctance to put effort into school assignments feel disappointing, and volunteering in the classroom doesn’t seem to make an impact on his attitude, either.
You wonder how your child simply isn’t interested in anything to do with school.
How to get your child interested in school
Perhaps your goal is to simply stop his defiance and at least go along with what he needs to do for school, from getting ready to finishing homework.
But if I had to guess, you’d rather that he not just tolerate school, but to actually feel excited about it. To do well in class and understand the value of a good education. And to advance and use what he has learned to contribute to the world in adulthood.
Except getting him to wake up early in the morning or correct his homework aren’t exactly showing signs of promise.
No worries, mama. You can turn things around and get him interested in school, even if it feels like you’ve tried everything else. As you’ll see, the tips below are less about forcing kids to enjoy school, and more on how we view and value its importance in our lives.
Take a look at these simple—and doable—tips on how to get your child interested in school:
1. Fill your home with books
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I was shocked—but later not surprised—to learn that homes filled with books extend a child’s educational level by an average of 3.2 years. Simply by owning books at home (50 is ideal) is enough to set the tone of the importance of reading and valuing school.
Here’s the thing: borrowing books from the library—however valuable that is—may not be enough. The fact that parents prioritize books enough to make space for them in their homes is what helps kids excel and enjoy school.
So, what can you do?
You likely won’t buy 50 books in one swipe, but begin planning for your very own library at home. If you have shelves, clear out a section dedicated to children’s books. If not, add a simple children’s shelf or side table to their room to fill like these:
Then, make it a treat to buy one book a week, letting him choose which ones to buy (paperback books can be as affordable as $2 -$4 each). Use these to stock your new library at home and read together throughout the day.
Looking for book ideas? Join my newsletter and get my Read Aloud Book List! You’ll get hundreds of favorite selections to read aloud with your kids. Get it below—at no cost to you:
2. Watch how you talk about school
I cringe when I hear people—kids, parents, school staff—let out a whoop of cheer when they announce that school is on a break. You hear it the last few days before summer or winter break or even before a three-day weekend.
And I get it: We all need a break from routine. Teachers look forward to weeks-long time away from students, and parents don’t have to scramble with the morning hustle.
But whenever I hear people cheering that there won’t be school for a while, it makes me wonder:
What message does that send to our kids?
So ask yourself: How do you talk to your kids about school?
Do they hear you say, “Yay, no school tomorrow!” more often than not? Do you take them out of school for the day as a “treat”? Are they dropped off on time and given a healthy breakfast so they’re alert all day?
These little decisions decide whether school is important to your family, or a hassle to get through. Weekends are fun, of course, because we get to hang out with one another all day. But be mindful of how you talk about school as well, and make sure you don’t paint it as something to dread.
3. Continue to learn during school breaks
Whether a few weeks of winter break or a long stretch in the summer, encourage some sort of “curriculum” when your kids aren’t in school.
In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, author Malcolm Gladwell argues that the educational gap between wealthy and poor children is the time they spend away from school. He writes:
“Virtually all of the advantage that wealthy students have over poor students is the result of the differences in the way privileged kids learn while they are not in school. … For its poorest students, America doesn’t have a school problem. It has a summer vacation problem…”
Of course, kids are learning practically all the time, from each moment of play to reading to enjoying some downtime. Still, I remember many summers of mine watching soap operas in the afternoons, whittling my time away when I could have been more engaged.
Nowadays, when the kids are on a long break, I make sure we don’t drop our regular reading routine. I also give them a daily worksheet, and follow their teachers’ advice on activities to do during the break.
We don’t have a strict schedule—we’re not school, after all. But I still want them to get in the habit of learning despite being on a break from school. Not only will they avoid having to relearn everything prior to the break, they’ll also understand that school is simply part of life.
4. Establish rules and routines in the home about school
Do you think twice about brushing your teeth? Probably not. You have it in your head to brush your teeth every morning and night, to wash your hands after using the bathroom, and to turn off the lights before bed.
This is the power of habits and routines, and the same can be applied to school.
For instance, you can create an after school routine that includes a snack and a few minutes of homework. Make sure your kids keep their desks and learning areas clutter-free. Encourage them to insert folders and library books into their backpacks as needed.
These rules and routines make your daily life conducive for learning, setting the expectation that school is important.
5. Expect your kids to attend college
“When I go to college, can I still show you my weekly work?” my son asked me one day.
He was talking about our Friday review of the worksheets he did during preschool. In his innocence, he assumed we’d continue to review his worksheets well into his college years.
Aside from the cuteness of this scenario, what pleased me most was his assumption of going to college. There was no question—after high school, he wanted to go to college.
I know folks who grew up without that expectation and felt that getting themselves into and through college was more difficult. They had to navigate through the enrollment process alone, or their parents didn’t understand why they even needed a degree.
Not everyone who goes to college finds success, just as not everyone who doesn’t go to college are struggling. But college offers plenty of opportunities, like a boost in income and less unemployment, an environment dedicated to the love of knowledge, and finding lifelong friendships.
It’s not a bad place to be.
In fact, the next time you take a trip with a nearby college, take a few hours to visit the campus. Make it a habit to include college visits during your vacations (many offer campus tours).
Do you live near a college? Take advantage of your proximity and bring your kids for a visit. Explain where you are and expose them early on to college life.
And if you’re able to, contribute to your kids’ college fund and talk about the advantage of saving for their years in college.
6. Show how school will impact their future
People sometimes scoff at school assignments, wondering how sentence syntax and the Pythagorean theorem would help them in adulthood.
Granted, we don’t apply everything we learn in school to everyday life. The details we learn in history and the homework assignments we pored through might not matter.
But more often than we realize, they do.
To this day, I still use many of the math applications I learned in elementary school to find percentages. Decades later the multiplication tables have helped me in daily life (and I never thought I was a person who “loved math”).
Talk about how you’re using what you had learned in school now as an adult. Maybe that’s writing a proposal for work, using skills you learned in English class. Understanding current politics based on interesting facts you read in history books.
Beyond directly using what we had learned in school, you can also stress the person you were able to become because of school. You’re able to think critically, to observe, to question. You learned how to infer, to argue, and to research. To feel delighted in having learned something new.
And most importantly, the opportunities we get from having gone to school. We have more opportunities that might not be there had we not gone to school or done well. The more we value school, the more chances and choices your kids can make in adulthood.
This is especially useful if they already have aspirations of how they want to contribute to the world. One might want to be a teacher, a farmer, or the person to create solar-powered cars. Another might want to own a restaurant, a bookstore, or create recipes.
If kids see the opportunities from going to school, they’re more likely to see it as a benefit, not another obstacles to get through.
I truly believe that we can do simple changes to get kids interested in school. Start by filling your home with books to show that you value reading and learning. Watch how you talk about school and avoid making it seem like something to dread.
Continue to learn during long school breaks, and create rules and routines around school in your home. Raise college-bound kids with eyes set on higher education, and discuss how school impacts their future, including things they’re excited to do.
School does not have to be the drudgery we often see or hear about. Even with exciting weekend plans or a fun summer break, your kids can still look forward to school just as much.
Get more tips:
- What to Do when Your Child Doesn’t Want to Go to School
- 6 Tips to Make Your Morning Routine for School Run Smoothly
- Preschool Pros and Cons: Should You Send Your Child to Preschool?
- 6 Useful Back to School Tips for Parents and Kids
- 13 Children’s Books about Going to School
Free resource: Looking for book ideas? Join my newsletter and get my Read Aloud Book List! You’ll get hundreds of favorite selections to read aloud with your kids. Get it below—at no cost to you: