"How could youths better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living?"                                                             Henry David Thoreau
The day they had been anticipating has finally arrived. They tracked it for weeks—talked about it with classmates. Gleefully, they announced it’s imminent arrival to their parents, as if a harbinger of what was soon to be in store…freedom! The last day of school: no more books, tests, homework, grades. Just a lot of time freedom to do…nothing.
Although the latter point underscores what soon will follow, mid-summer boredom, many of our youths rejoice at this time of the year. For at present, their boredom rests with education, and it is with great exuberance and anticipation that they greet summertime freedom.
Just as New Year’s is often the occasion for reflecting back upon the trials and tribulations of the passing year, summer may be viewed as a time for evaluating the education process of children. A report card of report cards. It is useful at this time—as opposed to the frantic school year replete with non-stop activity—for parents to examine how specifically education has impacted their children and vice versa. Has the system provided adequate experiences to your child this past year? Has your child left his (her) mark on that system—good or bad?
While the good, college-bound student, is not becoming an extinct entity, there is growing concern for the many youths who today perform poorly, scoffing at or otherwise denigrating education, teachers and generally the idea of enrichment. Though they are easily bored, often act disrespect-fully toward authority figures, “cut” classes, these children often perceive themselves as incapable of achieving mastery in a variety of ways and therefore seek alternative means for their approval: peer recognition. Their stated boredom, the cloak that hides their insecurities, leads to trouble. And trouble invites others who feel equally troubled to approve.
Summer is a good time for parents of students who become bored easily, fail, get into trouble, to take inventory and prepare to make changes in the Fall. In order to do that, it is important for a parent to consider a proactive verses reactive approach. In some instances, both parents and school personnel assume a reactive posture—they surrender control of the situation by assigning responsibility (i.e., “blaming”) outside of themselves. “If only ‘X’ would happen, Billy would perform better.” In these cases, parents believe the school should improve the situation, that’s what they’re paid to do. School personnel counter stating parents fail to understand the complexities of teaching, the limitations of class-size for individual attention, budgets, staff shortages and the like. Meanwhile, “Billy” continues to behave inappropriately.
In contrast, parents who take a proactive posture can not only help their child improve his attitude toward education and therefore his performance, but can also improve parent-educator ties. When one is proactive, he (she) considers what specific actions can be performed that will produce the desired outcome! The emphasis is on what can be controlled, as opposed to what can not be controlled. Some suggestions to help those children who are bored of education seem in order.

  • Make hard-work exciting! Consider a success experience in your adulthood. Relate this to your children, especially the effort and time invested in it’s creation. Make it clear that accomplishments don’t just happen. Then ask them to consider something they would be willing to work for this summer. What would be the goal? What specifically would they have to do to expedite it’s accomplishment? Be specific!
  • Help “learning” become “cool.” If your child’s identity is with a peer group that reinforces getting in trouble, failing, cutting classes, then telling him he’s a good student will fall on deaf ears. In fact, he might resent hearing it. But if many parents revisit their children’s attitudes and attempt some attitude adjustment, a new trend could develop among the peer group. Begin by establishing a question-friendly atmosphere. When kids have a problem, don’t accuse, act impatient or try to solve hastily. Ask them what they think! Guide them in the solution.
  • Reinforce persistence. A learning strategy is a process, not an answer. Help identify your child’s scholastic strengths, ask a lot of questions about schoolwork, utilize today’s tools—the internet. Engage in vital school activities and contact teachers with whom your children are close to demonstrate that you—their parents—are anything but bored of education!