Your teenager has stopped learning: 3 reasons and an action plan

How to find motivation to study and solve problems with school
At the end of the school year your child “drove off” in all subjects including go math 4th grade and seems to have given up on his studies. You have breathed out with the onset of school vacations, and decided to give it and yourself a break, and return to the issue of achievement closer to school. Well, now is the time – you can calmly discuss the problems that have arisen with the school and try to solve them.

There are as many reasons why children don’t want to learn as there are children. But experience shows that you can identify several major ones, and if you group them together, it becomes clear which channels and where the energy that should be aimed at learning goes. I would label the biggest “black holes” as follows: workload, relationships, hobbies.

Workload: when a teenager doesn’t have time to live
Today’s children are so loaded with studies and extra activities (go math 5th grade, clubs, tutors, sports sections) that they have absolutely no free time left. And if they are able to carry the burden through adolescence, then they begin to rebel, knowing full well that their parents’ cries and threats will get them nowhere. As one teenager told me, “They won’t stop feeding you, they won’t kick you out of the house.

Being too busy destroys motivation, reduces creativity, and inhibits the development of leadership skills. And it negatively affects academic performance – the child literally stops “getting on time”. He has to do his homework late at night, when he is tired and not thinking straight. Of course, the teenager uses any opportunity to dodge overload.

Overwork also affects health – pupils start to get sick more often, and therefore miss lessons. Those who are engaged in sports or creative activities, periodically skip classes because of training camps, competitions, concerts. The reasons seem to be valid, but all this eventually leads to serious gaps in knowledge which the child cannot make up for on his own.

Having missed several classes, he is not able to engage in the learning process neither in the classroom, nor at home – he simply does not understand what the teacher is talking about, and does not know how to approach homework, which is piling up like a snowball. At first he hides it from parents, pretends to study, then, in order not to “run into trouble”, he begins to skip lessons.

Relationships: when it is scary to go to school, or there is no reason to.
On the desire of children to study and go to school also affects the situation in the classroom, relationships with peers and teachers.

In the lower grades, it’s especially important how the teacher treats the child. One mother complained to me that the teacher didn’t like her son. Calling the mother to the school, she stated: “I can’t work with your child. It gives me an ulcer when I see him. She could not contain her irritation, watching the boy during the lesson mechanically winding some strings around his finger. Of course, the child felt it, came home from class upset and did not want to do his homework.

For teenagers, the relationships with their classmates come to the fore, and they largely determine their emotional state. When relationships don’t work out or the child becomes the object of bullying, he no longer cares about his studies.

Hobbies: a waste of time?
Another channel for “squandering” energy – unplanned, uncontrollable hobbies of children, which, from the point of view of adults, do not give the child anything – as they say, “neither mind nor heart”, but only “distract from business”.

These may be teenage companies “of interest”: for some it is a music band, for others a soccer team – children get together to listen to music, discuss the news, go to the stadium or just prowl the streets in search of adventure. Some are seriously into traumatic extremes – surfing, parkour, street racing, hooking.

Of course, a lot of time is eaten up by gadgets: here and computer games, and communication on the Internet, chats, correspondence. A child counts the minutes until the end of school – all attention is focused on something else.

And even teenage crushes can consume all the strength and thoughts. Although it happens that it is the desire to impress the object of affection, to get ahead, to become the best, makes the child learn – “to strive and achieve.

No matter what the reason is for a child not wanting to learn, we parents should put aside all business, “spick and span” at the problem and devote as much time as necessary to solve it. The most important thing is not to threaten or punish, so as not to destroy contact with the child. On the contrary, you need to get closer and help him in every way you can. What exactly should you do?

Set priorities
Having noticed that children get tired, get tired, parents often start to give them medications which promote concentration and increase capacity for work – in fact they “plant” them on doping. I always warn against this. If it’s about excessive strain, you need to reduce it, give the child a break, find the optimal pace of life for him or her. And do not expect results right away, let him recover first.

You need to take inventory of your child – what he is doing, where his energy goes, and why he has no time to study. If he was running around in circles, as in the poem by Agniya Barto, you need to think what to abandon, to focus on learning.

All children are different, their abilities are individual, some are better at one thing, and some are different. And if the child fails with learning, he should know that he is not untalented, not hopeless, there is always something that he does well: one perfectly plays soccer, another sings, the third draws, the fourth cooks pies. So in no case should not deprive the child of an activity that he likes and in which he feels successful.

I know a family where because of poor grades boy was removed from the hockey section, although he was one of the best in the team. What did it do? The child was terribly upset and resentful of his parents – after all, he was left without his favorite hockey activity. Relationships were damaged, and he never learned better. That area of the child’s life, in which he felt confident, where he had real achievements, parents cut off, and he was just in the role of lagging, catching up, which has nothing to do, how to pull on the others, and it’s hard, hurt, humiliating.

Pull up neglected subjects.
When an object is neglected and you don’t know how to approach it, you can use what I call the “Swiss cheese method”: if you have a wall of problems in front of you, you should first make two or three holes in it, and then gradually, step by step, increase their size, until the wall collapses.

In our case, you need to identify what subjects are now the most important and what topics the child has not mastered, what you need to pull up, and then proceed to the specific actions – to deal with one neglected paragraph of the textbook, then proceed to the next, and so on.

Of course, it will take time and patience, but we will see how the child’s attitude to the lessons changes: as soon as he begins to understand and absorb the material, fear disappears, there is confidence in his abilities, and with it an interest in learning. If the subject is difficult and we can’t help ourselves, then we have to temporarily hire a tutor.

It happens that parents make a child study a difficult subject for two hours straight and make sure he is not distracted. But few people can concentrate on anything for that long. The child sits for those two hours, suffers, starts to secretly study something else, continuing to pretend to be a hard worker – and still there…

So it is important to find the best way to work independently. It is possible to break a big task into a chain of small ones. For example, you read the problem definition, sit and think for ten minutes (you can put an hourglass or turn on a timer), then take a short break, have some tea, or jump and play with the cat. Then he/she concentrated again and solved the problem to the end.

It is necessary to teach the child to switch to a short break after strong concentration and back to maximum concentration.

Children are “forced” to learn primarily by positive emotion and success. The child achieves something, he has faith in his strength, it gives him energy to move on. If we help him/her to feel successful in any activity, be it sports, music, drawing, poetry, then this success will become a trigger, a locomotive that will pull along the rest, including school grades. And most importantly, it will bring back the child’s desire to learn.

Help fix relationships
If the reason for poor learning is a biased attitude of the teacher, the child risks to find himself between a rock and a hard place: at school he is “humiliated” by a teacher, and at home he is “pressed” by parents. This is a dead end: we will lose contact with the child, and the problem will not be solved.

To solve it, we have to talk to the teacher, try to hear him, explain something to him, somehow build a relationship. If we understand that the situation can’t be corrected, we have to change the teacher, move to another class or to another school. And it is necessary to act quickly, because the child should not be in a field of powerful negative emotions for a long time.

Similarly, it is necessary to deal with bad relationships with peers. If a child is being bullied – that’s one issue, but if the child can’t find common ground with his classmates, you need to teach him to communicate and make contacts.