Tell me why
When a subject in school is too hard, feels overwhelming, or doesn’t seem relevant, many students are resistant to engage with it. On those occasions (of which there may be many!) it’s productive to help students reframe their thinking on it. To do this, try moving the conversation away from the content and place the emphasis on the skills they’re learning — life skills that will be applicable to the things they do enjoy. Even younger students can be guided down this path and have a fruitful discussion. What can your child learn from this class/project/assignment? Or, what skill does your child think their teacher is asking them to practice? It may not get your child excited about the subject matter, but reframing it will help give them a “why” and sense of purpose behind it.
Here are a few examples:
- “I’ll never use this math in real life.”
- You’re learning how to problem solve and work through multi step challenges.
- “I’m not going to be a doctor so why do I have to learn biology?”
- You’re learning how systems relate and connect. You’re learning how the world around you works.
- “The reading is too hard and boring.”
- You’re learning how to break down and interpret challenging text, to make sense of difficult ideas or concepts.
- “When am I ever going to have to write a 20 page report on something?”
- You’re learning how to manage, organize, synthesize, and explain large swaths of information.