Stop Teaching My Kid to Hate School

first day of schoolIf I had a nickel for every idiot adult who has asked my kid if she's bummed that school is about to start, I'd have enough money to buy a big, fat roll of duct tape to slap across their mouths. Consider this my memo to the world: it's time to stop telling kids that school sucks. Isn't it bad enough that they'll come to that conclusion themselves one day?

My daughter starts the second grade this week, and as I write this, she's still a backpack wearing member of the "I love school" team. She has her new shoes picked out, her new lunchbag on the kitchen counter, and after a chance run-in with the elementary art teacher a week ago, she's jazzed about all her teachers.

It hasn't been easy. 


I'll admit I have to give school mixed reviews. My 12 years in the public school system weren't the worst ever, but I won't say I actually enjoyed every moment from kindergarten through the 12th grade either. I genuinely love learning. I love cracking open a new book and diving in.

On the other hand, I was a brainiac, a chunky girl with a big mouth and -- from fifth grade through tenth -- large-rimmed, totally unflattering glasses. I was a bullying victim with an eating disorder. Oh, and I am a night owl who struggles even now to get up in the morning. How fond do you really think I could have been of school?

But my 7-year-old knows none of this. I have never wanted her impressions of school to be colored by my jaded memories.

We have our fair share of awful mornings (really, if you haven't threatened to send them to school in their pajamas at least once over a refusal to get dressed, can you really say you're parenting?). But she's still the "pleasure to have in class" kid, the kid who could have spent two hours debating the merits of each particular colored folder on the back-to-school shopping trip.

She doesn't hate it ... yet.

So all the other adults who like to throw their own two cents about school into the mix are getting on my nerves: "Ooh, so you start school on Thursday, back to getting up eaaaaarly!" and "Aren't you going to miss playing all day?" and "Aww man, no more summer vacation?"

My kid isn't an idiot. She knows what these people are getting at. Summer vacation = good. School = bad.

What she doesn't understand is why.

Why is it bad that she gets to wear new sneakers and learn the multiplication tables? Why is it bad that she gets to see her friends again and jump beyond chapter books with scattered pictures to chapter books with no pictures? Why would anyone think it's bad to ride a bus when Mrs. N. drives the bus and she is AWESOME? Why are all these adults making her feel bad about being happy about going back to school?

I can only imagine it's because -- like most adults -- they can't remember a time when school was fun, when learning was an adventure, when everyone on the playground was a potential friend. We're all too old and too jaded. But that doesn't mean we have to ruin it for the kids, does it?

Do your kids still love school? Do you encounter the "all kids hate school" attitude?


Image by Jeanne Sager

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