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He Just Hates School

02 September, 2018
Q My six-year-old son HATES school. He had always resisted learning letters and numbers before starting school. I sent him to preschool where the focus was on socialization. The teacher assured me he would learn his letters and numbers in kindergarten. I signed up for Gazelle Testing when it was time for kindergarten, but I was called and told my son was too old and didn't need to be tested. Well, of course, as a result of all this, my son was behind from the first day of school! I didn't learn of his difficulty until his first conference and by then he was two months behind! I finally forced the issue of teaching him letters and numbers at home and realized after about 10 to 20 minutes of resistance that he will settle down and go through some workbooks or do some homework. I never forced him before because I didn't want him to be negative about school. Ha! He was placed in first grade and isn't doing well. His teacher sends home notes daily about his behavior (if he finished his work or used recess to finish, or his work is attached to the note if he didn't do it at all). He wears glasses because he is short-sighted which happened after his first kindergarten conference. I have no idea how to help him. I loved elementary school myself and that makes it harder to relate. I volunteer in his classroom once a week for the math’s period, and that day is his worst day at school generally. Please help me motivate my child to learn and/or to like school.


In this counseling answer:

•Always start with the positive: What good happened in school? What good did you do?

•Each day, make a list of good things—learning and behavior—that your son does during the day.

•Every time he does something good, even the tiniest effort on his part in the right direction, should be recognized and praised by both parents.

Salam Sister,

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You have asked for help in motivating your child in learning and in improving his behavior in the classroom.

Since you have provided me with the history that covers only his difficulties— learning the alphabet and behavior in school—, it is difficult to completely understand his reasons since his home environment has a great deal to do with his sense of who he is and why he does what he does. Does he eat well? Does he sleep well? Do parents argue over him? How about television? What sort of stories do you read to him? All these things are important.

I can understand that it is hard for you to relate to him because he does not like school. However, your attitude can either help him to learn to love school or cause him to gradually become even more difficult. He relies on your opinion, and it must be positive.

As a mother, I understand that you want your child to be successful and well mannered, but sometimes, as Allah says in the Qur’an, we need to be patient and steadfast in difficulties that we face in life. Raising children is not a simple task.

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We are also told in the Qur’an that human beings forget to thank Allah for the good that happens and remember only the bad. Based on these two simple principles, I would like to offer you the following suggestions that I have found to be very useful to parents and children. Yes, you are not alone.

•Always start with the positive: What good happened in school? What good did you do?

•Each day, make a list of good things—learning and behavior—that your son does during the day.

•Every time he does something good, even the tiniest effort on his part in the right direction, should be recognized and praised by both parents.

•The father is a very important person in children’s lives. He needs to be engaged and not distant. As a reward, his father can read stories to him. Small children are fascinated when you tell them that Allah loves those who work hard. Expand the conversation to tell him stories of how great historical personalities or religious characters had to go through great difficulties to learn things in life.

•Set a special time and place in the house to teach him. Teach him when you are relaxed and not pushed for time. That should be your time with him to learn and play together. If he gets positive attention, he will not seek the negative.

•Children learn best when they are engaged in activities that cover the verbal, physical, and mental aspect of their personality. Using wooden blocks with the alphabet and play games always with the focus on the learning aspect, spelling, etc.

•Be consistent. He needs to know the limits of how far he can misbehave. Consistency is the key to help him learn self-control and motivation. He will respond more.

Any teacher, who only tells you negative points about your son, is not taking notice of what your child is doing well, so do not react at everything the teacher says. You can still help your son complete what he was not able to do in the class. The important point is that he does the work.

When you learn to focus on his good behavior, he will learn self-discipline and will respond to learning in a positive way both at school and home.

You have not said anything about him when he is at home. I have a feeling from your description that he is not a happy child. Ask him why? You will be surprised how truthful six-year-olds can be. He can be your helper in learning if you treat him with respect and affection.

Finally, you must have patience with him and pray hard.

May Allah bless you and your family and guide us all on the straight path.


Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 

Read more:

My Son Is Alway Late for School

Homeschooling As A Way of Protection?

A Rebellious Son & an Absent Father

About Hwaa Irfan
Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.