FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- Your child dislikes going to school. It's your job to listen, not lecture.
The reason could be classes that are too easy -- or too tough. It could relate to peer pressure or perceived unpopularity. It could be lack of motivation, or communication gaps. It could be a learning disability.
''Grades alone may not tell the whole story,'' says Anne Rambo, family therapist and associate professor at Nova Southeastern University. ''There are other signs that a child is struggling, bored, or under- or over-challenged by school.''
Rambo, who established the university's ChildFit counseling service for students who dislike school, lists some warning signs:
-- Your child grumbles and complains about going to school each day.
-- Even though his physical health is fine, he complains about headaches, stomachaches and vague pains.
-- Most of the conflicts between you and your youngster revolve around the school issue -- skipping class, behavior problems, bad grades, et al.
-- Your child has no clear plans about the future.
-- Your child says he has no friends, receives no phone calls or visits from friends at home, and doesn't get invited to birthday parties.
-- On his homework and school assignments, he often gets the first answers on a quiz right, then starts to ''fall apart'' and miss later answers -- a sign that he may be overwhelmed or distracted. If he's bored, he may carelessly write wrong answers to easy questions but excel on harder ones. You may notice that your child doesn't understand what the teacher wants, or that he understands verbal -- but not written -- directions.
''Talk with your child. That means asking questions and really listening to the answers,'' Rambo says. ''For once, don't correct your child if he or she tells you that his or her teacher is unfair or that school is pointless. Try not to lecture the child about the importance of education. Your task at this stage is to try and understand your child's point of view, whether or not you agree with it.''
Rambo recommends talking to the teacher, too. ''Again, listen more than you talk. Try to understand the teacher's point of view. Observing for an hour in the classroom may help you to see firsthand the difficulties the teacher faces daily.''
If you can't seem to reach a clear solution, consider getting outside help -- the school guidance counselor, for example, or a trusted family friend, relative or clergy person.
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