Six Surprising Reasons Why Your Child Hates School

Close Up of a Boy with Attitude

You hate to admit it, but it’s true:  Your child hates school. 

Now we’re not talking about the typical “I hate school” gripes from kids when they get too much homework or tough classes. 

No, we’re talking deep-seated hatred. 

Hatred that results in one or all of the following:

  • Non-stop complaining at home
  • Bad behavior in the classroom
  • Poor grades on the report card 

What’s most frustrating about this behavior is that your child is an intelligent person.  You know the smarts are there, but for some reason, they just won’t come out.

Not only is this a mystery to you, it’s a mystery to all the professionals you’ve consulted on the matter.  Teachers.  Doctors.  School psychologists.  You’ve tried all their solutions, but nothing seems to work.  In fact, they seem as frustrated as you are.

Don’t despair.  There may be a reason you’ll find surprising; one that continues to fly under the radar of parents, educators, and medical practitioners. 

And one that, we’re happy to say, can be corrected.

Your child may have the “hidden disability”

What is the issue that may be affecting your child?

A vision problem. 

A vision problem?  No, you think, it can’t be a vision problem.  Your child has been through the school vision screenings, and may even wear glasses.  The family optometrist and the family doctor haven’t mentioned anything additional about vision. 

How could this be? 

You have to understand that we’re not just talking about failing-to-read-an-eye-chart kind of problem.  We’re talking about vision and learning problems that are significantly more complex.

In fact, these vision problems simply can’t be detected by a typical vision screening with a Snellen eye chart.  That’s why these vision problems are called the “hidden disability.”

What’s amazing is that according to the American Optometrists Association, one in four children suffers from a vision problem that impairs their ability to learn. 

That’s right – one in four.  It’s much more widespread than people know.

So without further ado, here are six surprising reasons why your child either struggles with or hates school.  They’re all vision problems.  And they can all turn school into a nightmare for your child. 

1.       Your child has poor eye-body control.

Does your child have trouble sitting still, concentrating, and focusing on reading and other tasks? 

If so, they may have poor eye-body control.  Eye-body control is an important relationship between the eye and the body.  Eye-body control is essential to our knowing where we are in relation to other people and our surroundings.  It enables us to sit still, stay on task, and direct concentration. 

Children with poor eye-body control are often labeled as hyperactive or having an attention problem.

2.       Your child can’t track or locate words.

Does your child have problems following a line of print or catching a ball?  Does he/she lose their place when reading, reverse words, or substitute words into a story?  When he/she reads, is there an uneven speech flow?

These symptoms all occur when a child has problems tracking and locating.  This visual skill includes the ability to visually look at and sustain fixation on a target.

3.       Your child’s eyes won’t work together.

Is your child a chronic daydreamer?  Or does he/she always have tired eyes with droopy lids? 

Is your child something of a klutz, with no sense of rhythm and a disturbing inclination to spill milk on a regular basis?

The culprit in these cases is eye teaming.  This visual skill involves the yoking and aligning of eyes precisely so that the brain can unify the input it receives from each eye.  Eye teaming problems are often referred to as binocular problems, and are the root cause for double vision.

4.       Your child has a low “volume of awareness”.

Does your child take an extra-long time to complete an assignment?  He/she may be suffering from a low visual span and volume of awareness.

To understand this concept, think about times when you’ve driven a car while under stress.  In those instances, the amount of things you see is actually restricted.  That’s called your effective visual span and volume of awareness.  It controls how much information you can process in a single “visual bite.”

Your child’s awareness works the same way.  If the amount of information children can process is restricted, it will impact their academic performance.

5.       Your child has trouble seeing with the mind’s eye.

Does your child have problems remembering the name (verbal label) for a numeral or letter?  For example, when they see the symbol “2”, it should trigger the word “two.”

Or does your child have problems visualizing something in their head?  The inability to “see” something in the mind’s eye often results in poor spelling.

This problem may be poor unification skills.  Visual unification involves the ability to utilize past experience and correlate information from all areas of vision with input from other sensory system.  It’s a great example of how the human brain is such an intrinsic part of the visual system.

6.        Your child has problems focusing.

Does your child have problems copying from the whiteboard to his/her paper?  Does he/she have problems looking at something far away, and then shifting focus to something close at hand? 

This is referred to as a focusing, or accommodation, problem.  Focusing involves seeing clearly from every distance.  It requires the ability to shift from far to near or from near to far, all while sustaining focus.

It’s no wonder your child hates school.

Now that you’re aware of some visual skills, imagine some of the frustrations of children that may result when things don’t work right with a child’s vision:

  • They get reprimanded from teachers and parents alike for being squirmy or losing concentration.  
  • They begin to under-achieve in class or sports, which harms their self-esteem and social standing. 
  • They feel fatigued, mentally and physically, from struggling in front of a book or computer. 
  • They get frustrated because school comes easy for others, but not for them.

All these issues can manifest and make school a dreaded place. 

And that brings us to the big question:  What can you do about it?

Vision therapy provides a non-invasive solution

In many cases, these problems can be cured through a process called vision therapy, which includes a series of non-invasive, visual activities. 

Vision therapy is a specialized form of optometry.  It is practiced by developmental optometrists, who have received extensive training in this area.  It is practiced throughout the country, and numerous research papers have been written on its efficacy. 

Typical vision therapy lasts six to nine months, and involves performing a series of visual activities on a daily basis. 

What’s amazing is that once vision therapy helps correct the vision problem, the negative feelings your child had toward school can quickly reverse. 

Your child will start to read.  He/she will be able to concentrate in class.  Yes, complaining about having to do homework will still occur, but unlike before, your child will actually be able to complete assignments without your help every step of the way.

The first step starts here with a functional vision test

The first step to determine if your child needs vision therapy is to take a functional vision test.

A functional vision test is much more extensive than a typical vision screening or eye exam.  It must be performed by a developmental optometrist, and includes a wide range of visual tests.  All of the visual skills mentioned earlier in this article are included in a typical functional test.

Turn the hatred of school into a love of learning

Your child is not a hater. 

If your child has a vision problem, he/she is a bright but very frustrated student, stuck in a tough situation. 

You can help.  You can take the first step to determine if, like one in four children, your child has a vision problem significant enough to cause these feelings. 

Vision therapy has helped thousands of children turn a hatred of school into a love of learning.  It’s up to you to see if your child can join the ranks.

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