When Students Say, "I'm Bored!"
from the Teachers.Net G.A.T.E. Chatboard
As long as the child is learning, I see no problem. Not everything is exciting in life. You are not there to entertain her child. In my experience, overindulged children will often complain of boredom just to see what kind of entertainment the adults might come up with for them. Is the child making progress? If math is the area of concern, do you have some sort of testing or work sample you can use to compare what the child was able to do a month or two ago compared to now?
See if you can come up with something and then call Mom and say, "I'm so proud of Suzy because since February she has learned to count change up to $1.00 using pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. I understand that she doesn't find this concept very interesting. Perhaps she could help you count your change when you go to the store so she can understand that this is a skill adults use every day." This way, you can acknowledge the mother's comments in a way that backs up what you are doing with her child and puts the ownership of the problem back where it belongs. If the idea the mother has is that her little darling is so gifted that you are not teaching her anything she doesn't already know, be sure to start pre-testing her on new things so you can compare before and after.
Don't let the rumor mills intimidate you. People will say what they will, and you will feel worse about it if you have jumped through hoops to appease them and they still talk about you. As long as you are being professional and doing your job, maintain your dignity and you will subtly get the message across that they will have to find someone else to bully. Posted by Angela in MN
Be proactive and not defensive. Listen as you ask the parent and child (who should be at the meeting), "So you are bored- what can WE do about that?"
Take notes during the meeting. Give parent and child the idea that it is important that they can have input . Get out the state standards. Review them with the parents and child.
Be sure you have assessed the child in all areas before this meeting. I have often found that children who are bored need a challenge but that their writing skills need work. In other words, my first graders who are advanced in many areas are very often weak in the writing area.
Parents want their child interested in school. Most parents appreciate a teacher who is willing to listen. Posted by Experienced Teacher
I had a kid come to me the other day and say, "I'm bored." I responded with, "Life's like that sometimes." You are NOT, NOT, NOT responsible for making every lesson a dog and pony show. Don't let the parents intimidate you. Ask them what THEY can do to help their child not be bored. Posted by Ann/2/CA
Could this be a my-child-is-just-as-bright type of thing? If the other child is gifted, why isn't my child? If he got into gifted by being "bored" maybe my child can get there the same way? No name provided
Somewhere along the way someone determined that being bored is a sign of giftedness.
I read once, "Only boring people become bored."
I agree with the poster(s) who indicated that students also need to learn that life won't always be full of excitement and thrills by the minute. There are things in life that we must do that are boring and mundane. Same thing applies to school.
I often wonder if high school teachers have difficulties because so many elementary teachers attempt to make every minute of every day of learning exciting and fun.
Are we doing children an injustice by teaching them early that every lesson must be fun-filled or not worth doing? Posted by Sharyl
Posted by a 3rd grade teacher on 4/18/03
Just wanted to say I agree with all of the above and say I think you hit the nail on the head. The buddy is now in the gifted program and this mom feels her daughter should be also - valid or not! Boring is what you make of things - I find truely gifted children are never bored when your room has the extra independent activities - truely gifted look for things to do and keep busy at this age. Good luck! Posted by 3rd Grade Teacher
I think that kids innately know that by saying "I'm bored" some primal instinct in parents kicks in... they respond by rushing to fill their child's day with fun and frolic.... or go looking for the adult who has placed their child in this less-than- adequate environment (such as the guilty teacher). My parents had responses for my "I'm bored" whine, such as "tough," "I can find work for you," or, "Looking for fun, run away and join the circus - please!"
With parents who attempt to explain their child's lack of work in class, by just saying "Well, he says he's bored. Perhaps you're not challenging him enough..." I look concerned, frown a little to show my empathy and then say, "I'm sure that 'Bobby' is very smart. However, I need to see that he can actually do the work that the rest of the kids are doing before I can assign him anything new. As soon as I see that 'Bobby' is getting his work accomplished easily, then I'll know he's ready for more challenges, but right now he's struggling to finish the regular work. I can't wait until I get a chance to really challenge him - it'll be so exciting, I have some great projects in mind." Posted by Maybeme
Unless this child is topping the scores in standardized testing, this is an "entertain me" problem. I deal with this the way I deal with other pointless criticism -- by thanking the whiner for alerting me to the problem and offering them an odious alternative. For example, "Oh, your reading assignment is boring? Well, I'm so glad you pointed that out, please, take this stack of paper and write us a story of equivalent length. I know I'd love to be more in tune with what kids like to read these days." (I teach an older population, so this might need to be adjusted for your group.)
I do the same thing at home -- complaints about my floor? Thanks for volunteering, here's the broom and dustpan, I sure can use a break to put my feet up. Gee, that was swell of you. I even do it with mouthy visiting kids. I had one neighborhood kid who just couldn't keep his lip zipped -- he wound up folding clothes, sweeping and mopping my kitchen floor, making a bed, making sandwiches for all of us, and filling the bird feeders. He finally caught on. His mom thought I was a saint and noticed a lot fewer complaints at home, too.
I seldom get more than three complaints from any one kid, and some interesting things wind up being created (and the room is cleaner). The first one is usually a shock to them, the second is testing me. (Will she REALLY make me reshelve ALL these books? YES, she will, and she'll be very thankful and make a big, sincere fuss over your helpfulness afterwards, too!) When the third whine slips out, IF it does, I can see them cringe and accept that THEY made a mistake and get ready to do whatever PROACTIVE thing they've just asked for. The trick is to be really matter-of-fact about it and quite fabulously cheerful that they've "volunteered" to fix it.
OK, rant mode off. Best of luck in solving this problem! Posted by Mensa Mom
High test scores could very well indicate only that the test taker is a high achiever, nothing more. Many gifted students are lousy standardized test takers.
Inviting the parent in, along with the child, will prevent future problems. This parent is gearing up to call the office and make a stink. Parent, child and teacher could work together and "resolve" the "boredom" problem. To approach this problem in a defensive or controlling manner is to invite more problems than you had to begin with.
No teacher, at this point in the year, wants criticism. Be careful how you react to it when you are tired and ready for a break. Posted by An Experienced Teacher
During the second week of first grade, I got a note like that. I always save the off-beat notes in a drawer, just in case. I did call a meeting with the mother; she told me the child was no longer bored. It was a week later. I certainly hadn't changed. Don't they know that is one of the biggest insults? Of course, you feel badly, but don't give it too much emphasis. These are YOUNG children who haven't experienced that much in their short lives...boredom shouldn't come into the picture that often. In addition, you are not a tv or a video game. You can't compete with that. Learning is exciting to most primary children. I truly believe it is something at home...too much probing, too much of being critical about others, etc. It was in this case. The family is a bit different than the rest. The children do rule the nest. The child has other social problems as well. There must be some other baggage there too. Don't worry about it. Think about all the good things you do. Posted by corinne/1/ny