4 Things to Consider If Your Kid's Not Being Challenged in the Classroom

What are two things that go well together? Kids going back to school and complaints. And while parents are no stranger to a quip from their grade-schooler about how much the food in the cafeteria stinks or that they always get late slips from that one teacher, there's one remark that shouldn't be ignored: "School's boring."

If you've heard this come out of your child's mouth more than once, it's time to do something about it. Here are some potential things to consider if your kid's not getting challenged enough in the classroom.

They're Legitimately Bored by the Subject
Flickr User US Department of Education

They're Legitimately Bored by the Subject

If all you hear when you pick them up from the bus stop is how bored they get in class, that may be a sign they aren't getting everything they need out of their classroom experiences. It's no surprise that it's the most common reason kids aren't challenged in the classroom.

And while it's safe to assume any grade-school-aged kid is going to complain about their day-to-day doldrums, if you start to notice a pattern, try shifting the conversation to one that's more productive.

Start by asking your kid to list what they find interesting when they're sitting at their desk (it could be anything from a favorite subject to a teacher) and what they wish wasn't part of their day. Once you get their feedback, see if you can set up a time to talk with their teacher to see how you can work together to make learning more exciting for them.

And if the pattern persists, don't take it lightly. "Children are naturally excited about learning, and it's important to pay attention if yours is bored in school," said family therapist Alison Ehara-Brown in an interview with BabyCenter.

They're Gifted
Flickr User Bryan McDonald

They're Gifted

Oddly enough, there are some instances when not getting mentally stimulated in front of the chalkboard can actually be a good sign.

If your little one is constantly bringing home stellar report cards and knocking his tests scores out of the park, it might be worth getting him tested and speaking with his teacher about your hunch.

Think your kid is gifted? Try answering some of the basic baseline questions before going to the school. If you answer mostly yes, then it's likely he would be a good fit for a gifted and talented program.

And FYI: having a kid who's considered gifted definitely looks great on college apps, but keeping him stimulated throughout his educational career could be a tall order . . . and even require additional enrichment programs or a change in schools.

Their Confidence Is Waning
Flickr User WoodleyWonderWorks

Their Confidence Is Waning

Not getting challenged in school can also be due to other factors, like a sudden drop in confidence. Was your kid a chipper ray of sunshine last year but acting more like Johnny Raincloud this year?

It may be because her confidence took a nosedive, and that could be for a variety of reasons. If you suspect this is the case, sit her down and have an honest, one-on-one conversation about what's causing her change in behavior. It could be because of something as serious as a bullying situation at school, or she may be self-conscious about her reading level compared to that of her peers. But you just never know until you ask.

It also never hurts to give your child a boost when she's feeling down. "If your child tends to feel defeated by disappointments, help her be more optimistic," said Karen Reivich, PhD, coauthor of The Optimistic Child, in an interview with Parents. "Instead of offering glib reassurances to 'look on the bright side,' encourage her to think about specific ways to improve a situation and bring her closer to her goals."

They're Not Invested in What They're Learning

They're Not Invested in What They're Learning

Disinterest in the general sense is common among kids who are being exposed to different subjects. After all, you're not going to love every single class, right?

The challenge is that even though some children may not be enthusiastic about a subject like math, for example, they still have to learn the principles. Start by incorporating the subjects they're not particularly fond of into their daily routine at home in fun ways. It also couldn't hurt to speak with a teacher in the specific subject to see how to make learning the topic a little more fun.

And while it might not seem like a tremendous problem at first, not paying attention in class can lead kids to fall behind later on, so tackle the issue head-on ASAP.