Why Doesn't My Student Care?
One common characteristic plagues students today: apathy. The struggle of the parent, student, and teacher is to overcome apathy and motivate students toward genuine learning. What can you do?
Step 1: Talk to your student.
Many times there are underlying reasons why each child does not care about school. Here are a few possible reasons.
- Stress: It is very common for students to feel overwhelmed with education (Ripp). Sometimes students are involved in too many enriching activities that they struggle to keep up with one in particular.
- Consider: How much is your student involved in apart from school? What ways might your student need to learn to set boundaries, even with positive things?
- Circumstances: Difficult experiences or situations can make it more difficult to focus on education even when you really want to.
- Consider: What particular situations (e.g. divorce, death, depression, etc.) might your student be experiencing that could result in apathy?
- Learning Disabilities: From ADHD to dyslexia to Autism, learning disabilities often impede a student from being able to complete work easily.
- Consider: Does your student express difficulties with particular tasks (reading, following instructions, etc.) and/or sensory overload on a regular basis? Can learning disabilities be ruled out by circumstances?
- Parents with students enrolled at Enlightium Academy can consider AIMS, an ISP Modifications Plan or a 504 Accommodations Plan.
- Hormones: Students currently going through puberty are likely to experience more dramatic changes. They are learning to process their emotions, as well as test the limits of the world around them. Some students develop apathy as a way to see if anyone truly cares. Others, undergoing physical, emotional, and spiritual changes, feel too overwhelmed to care about school.
- Consider: How might your student be experiencing some of the negative side-effects of puberty?
- Insufficient Support Level: Some students just need more help than others.
- Consider: Would your student utilize access to the teacher via phone and/or zoom sessions?
- Students enrolled at Enlightium Academy in the Silver Premium, Gold, and Diamond support levels have teachers who provide one-on-one tutoring, as well as feedback and support on an hourly basis for each student.
- Lack of Communication: One of the most common issues found in apathetic students is a lack of communication and relationship with their teachers. Students who feel like they matter to their teachers, fellow students, family, etc. tend to perform better in school.
- Consider: How can you encourage your student to talk with his/her teacher(s)? How often does he/she ask for assistance?
Step 2: Highlight your student’s intrinsic value.
You may have heard statements like, “I stink at school! I’m not good at anything! I’m just stupid!” Here are a few ways to overcome this mindset.
- Speak positively about your student to your student. Throughout my life, my mother often reminded me that God made me for a purpose, that my grades have never defined my worth, that I am loved by my parents no matter what, and that I have the ability to make a difference through Christ.
- When your student speaks lies about themselves (e.g. “I never do anything right”), speak a truth over them (e.g. “you are very capable when it comes to ____”; “God has given you the ability to _____”, “I love/am proud of you because ______”).
- Help your student speak positively about themselves. Teach your student how to speak truth over themselves. One trick that has helped me learn positive self-talk is memorizing what the Bible says about me. Here are just a few verses that might help you and your family’s journey!
- Romans 8:14–15: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”
- Psalm 139:14: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
- Zechariah 3:17: “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.”
- Provide rewards/praise for improvement. Try helping your student focus on their successes, however small they may be (Marx-Talarczyk 3). One way to do this is by verbally praising their success or having a rewards system for achieving a certain accomplishment. This only works if your goals are specific and measurable.
- Teaching Tip: Sometimes this backfires when students will only work if they know praise/rewards are involved. Try having more consistent positive feedback toward the beginning. Then, make the praise/rewards more infrequent and random to try to train intrinsic motivation.
Step 3: Communicate a greater purpose for education.
This is difficult for many students, parents, and even teachers to remember. How can education shape a student?
- Character: When a student comes across a difficult assignment, they can learn how to push through unfavorable circumstances, to ask for help when needed, and to finish what they’ve started. Through interacting with others, they learn how to be kind and patient toward those who are unkind in return.
- Real Life Application: One of the biggest complaints from students is that education has no real life application (Shore). How we respond to a difficult assignment at school directly correlates to how we will respond to an unfavorable request from a boss or the loss of a loved one. How we treat teachers and other students will be how we treat our family and friends.
In summary, the first step toward healing an apathetic heart is having a conversation with the goal of listening closely. After finding the root cause(s), it can be helpful to redirect your student’s mind toward their intrinsic value and opportunities for improvement. Finally, one can try to remind their child of the value of education beyond the material itself.
Here at EA, we strive to engage students academically, emotionally, and spiritually. For any questions about online school education, please call (866) 488-4818, or visit EnlightiumAcademy.com. Enlightium Academy is an accredited alternative education option for educating your child from home. Our program offers the comfort of a homeschool education environment and the quality of private school education curriculum. Enlightium Academy is a private Christian school that offers a Bible-based, flexible, accredited, teacher supported, and affordable education.
Marx-Talarczyk, JoAnna. “Emphasize Effort and Praise Mistakes,” Inside the School. Magna Publications, Inc., 2018. http://www.russell.k12.ky.us/userfiles/indexblue/Five-Ways-Motivate-Unmotivated1.pdf Accessed 3rd April 2018.
Ripp, Pernille.“Why Don’t They Care? My Students Tell Me Why They’re Disengaged,” Education Post. Education Post, 10th Sept. 2015. http://educationpost.org/why-dont-they-care-my-students-tell-me-why-theyre-disengaged/ Accessed 3rd April 2018.
Shore, Kenneth. “The Unmotivated Student,” Dr. Ken Shore’s Classroom Problem Solver Series. Education World, 6th Feb. 2017. http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/shore/shore060.shtml Accessed 3rd April 2018.