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"I hate school, and I'm not going back!"
Have you ever had that thought? Lots of kids do. Usually this feeling doesn't last long. But what happens if you feel this way too much? School is a fact of life, and getting an education can help you build the kind of future life you want.
So let's talk about school and what to do when you don't like it.
Signs of School Stress
When you worry about school, it can affect your body. A kid who feels stressed about school might have headaches or stomachaches. You might feel "butterflies" or like you have to throw up.
Having trouble sleeping is also a sign of stress. And if you're not getting enough sleep, you probably feel grouchy and tired during the day. Feeling tired can make your school day seem even worse.
If you're stressed out, you might have a hard time making decisions. In the morning, you can't decide what to eat, what to wear, or what to pack for lunch. You don't want to go to school, so you put off getting your stuff together. And now you're not prepared to go to school, and you've just missed the bus — again! Staying home may seem like a good choice, but it just makes it harder to go to school the next day.
Why Do Some Kids Dislike School?
If you don't like school, the first step is finding out why. You might not like school because a bully is bothering you, or because a kid you don't like wants to hang around with you. Or maybe you don't get along with your teacher. You might feel different or worry that you don't have enough friends.
Sometimes it's a problem with your classes and schoolwork. Maybe the work is too easy and you get bored. Or maybe the work is too hard, or you don't feel as smart as the other kids. Reading may be difficult for you, but you're expected to do a lot of it. You may be getting farther and farther behind, and it may seem like you'll never catch up. Maybe you're dealing with worries, stress, or problems that make it hard to concentrate on schoolwork.
When you stop to think about why you don't like school, you can start taking steps to make things better.
It's a good idea to talk to someone about your problems with school. Your mom, dad, relative, teacher, or school counselor will be able to help you. It's especially important to tell an adult if the problem is that you're being bullied or someone hurts you physically.
Another good idea is to write down your feelings about school in a journal. You can use a journal or diary or just write in an ordinary notebook. It's a great way to let out emotions that may be stuck inside you. And you don't have to share what you've written with others.
If you feel disorganized or like you can't keep up with your schoolwork, your teachers and school counselors want to help. Teachers want and expect you to ask for help learning stuff. If all of your subjects seem really hard, a school counselor can help you sort things out. Special help with schoolwork is available if you need it.
Try not to let the problems go on too long. It's easier to catch up on one chapter than the whole book!
Feeling Better About School
The next time you find yourself disliking school, try this:
- First, write down everything you don't like about school.
- Then make a list of the good things you enjoy (even if it's only recess and lunch, that's a start!).
Now, what can you change on the "don't like" list? Would remembering to do your homework help you feel more confident if you're called on in class? Can you get help with schoolwork that's hard? Who can you talk to about a worry or problem you're dealing with? Could you find a way to show off your special interests and talents? If you made just one new friend, would you feel less alone? If you helped someone else feel less alone, would you feel even better? Which activities could you try that would help you meet new friends?
Of course, you might not be able to change everything on your "don't like" list. A bully may not simply disappear. Reading may always be a challenge. But that's OK. Focus on what you can change and you might be able to put the cool back in school!
This is a teen-written article from our friends at L.A. Youth, a nonprofit organization that uses media as a tool for young people to examine themselves, their communities and the world at large.
If you had seen me a year ago it would be hard to believe I’ve changed this much in so little time. I wasn’t going to school and my grades were F's and incompletes. My parents would give me talks in the morning and tell me, “It’s against the law not to go to school.” But I didn’t care.
I’ve always wanted to do well in school but I have a hard time getting up and going. It started in elementary school. I’d think, “I’m tired.” I wanted to stay in my bed under my warm blankets. To get me to school, my mom would throw me over her shoulder or take a half hour to get me dressed because I was fighting her.
When I was in fourth grade, my older brother and sister were seeing a psychiatrist, so I came along to the appointments and sat in the waiting room. They had inherited anxiety disorder and depression from my mom. My parents would explain what was going on with me to the psychiatrist: “It’s always a battle getting her up in the morning. She’s not doing her assignments and she’s missing school.” The psychiatrist said, “It sounds like anxiety and depression. We can put her on medications and see if it works.” I didn’t understand what they were talking about. I didn’t know what depression and anxiety were. They told me, “It’ll help you,” so I took my meds but I didn’t know why.
But the medications didn’t always seem to work. I still wasn’t doing my assignments because I was lazy. After I missed an assignment, I didn’t want to go to school the next day. I was picturing my classes each period, seeing my teachers disappointed. You didn’t complete your homework again? After I missed one day it was a struggle to get out of bed the next day because I still had not completed my homework.
In middle school I’d miss one or two days a week and was late almost every day I did go. In the morning my mom would nag me, “I’m going to get in the shower and I want you dressed by the time I get out.” I’d think, “I’m tired, let me go back to sleep. I don’t want to go to school. I don’t want to face my teachers. I should have done my homework.” But I’ve always had a hard time expressing my feelings so I wasn’t communicating what was going on inside me. When my mom came back and I wasn’t dressed she’d yell at me, “You need to get dressed and get going.” I wouldn’t say anything back so eventually she left me at home because she had to get to work.
Missing school hurt my grades. My parents would tell the school that I was depressed so my absences were excused. But after a while my parents stopped giving my school a reason because I was staying home so much, so I got detention for missing school. I failed English and got C's and D's in my other classes. Every year I went to summer school to get my credits. I knew that if I missed too much summer school I’d get dropped. I needed my credits, so I used that as motivation to go.
I told myself at the beginning of ninth grade that I would change. I was going to go to school every day, do my work and get good grades, like a normal student. But it was a lot harder than I thought.
My best friends were going to a different school than I was. On the third day it hit me that my friends weren’t there. I didn’t feel like I had much in common with the people I had lunch with. I started missing three, four days of school a week. I didn’t go at all in November and December. Because I had been diagnosed with depression, the school had a tutor come to my house to give me my work.
Being alone every day got boring so at the end of the semester, I wanted to go back to school for second semester. But I didn’t know the people I had lunch with that well and I still had to take my finals. It was overwhelming all over again. I knew I had to have good grades and attendance to get a permit to go to the other high school with my friends. I tried to go to school every day but I couldn’t.
It seemed like nothing I did was going to be good enough so I gave up and stopped going again and stopped taking my meds because it didn’t seem like they were working.
I stopped caring about everything. I distracted myself by reading and watching TV. I even stopped showering. I could smell myself and my hair was greasy. After a while I noticed dark patches on my skin. I rubbed it and the dead skin came off. I realized the dark patches were dirt. Eww. I washed my arms in the sink or in the pool. Looking back, it grosses me out that I didn’t shower but I can understand because I was depressed and I didn’t feel like doing anything.
One time that May I was sitting on the couch and I started thinking about how I wasn’t in school. I started crying. I thought about my friends, how they were probably having a good time. I thought about how my life was going down the tubes and I wasn’t doing anything about it. My life sucks. Why am I even alive? What if I died? Would the world be better without me? No, my friends and family would be sad, I thought. I didn’t want to think about that stuff so I started to read.
My dad was constantly nagging me, “They’re going to put you in a group home if you don’t go to school.” He said that in a group home, I would have to go to school every day or there would be consequences. I didn’t believe him. In eighth grade they had threatened to put me in a mental hospital and that didn’t happen. If that didn’t happen, why would this?
Click here to read the rest of the story on layouth.com.
Help L.A. Youth's teen writers make their voices heard. Donate now. Reprinted with permission from L.A. Youth.