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Old 16th January 2023, 08:21   #1
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Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

I know this is a public forum but it is one of the places I seek consul and value the opinions of its learned members. So here goes -

My daughter has begun to refuse to go to school. She is ten years old and currently in the fourth grade. Her reason being she hates the subject Hindi and hates being the slowest hindi writer in class.

Some background - my daughter is a very intelligent child. She has won gold medals in English and Science olympiad exams and is generally in the top three ranks in school. In May 2021, her mother (my wife) passed away due to covid. That was the year of online school.

Come 2022 or rather in late 2021, my daughter started to refuse to go to school on days when Hindi was on the agenda. I met her teacher and she had once asked my daughter to write faster or else she would make her wait after school. But I was assured by the class teacher and the hindi teacher that given her mental situation, no teacher scolds her.

Now lately she has started missing school regularly. Either she goes to the bathroom and refuses to come out or she refuses to get out of the car once we are at the school or she goes inside the gates and comes running out. In all three cases she is crying.

I need some suggestions on how to encourage her to go to school regularly. I cannot do emotional blackmail or force her physically. I have asked her if there is any other reason for missing school and she empathetically says no.

Another thought in my mind is to change her school to another regular school or an irregular school which uses alternate teaching methods.
Actually I am at my wit's end. Suggestions / comments / thoughts welcome.
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Old 16th January 2023, 08:30   #2
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Re: Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

1) Have you tried talking to her class mates? Is she really the slowest in class?
2) What do the class mates think of the Hindi teacher?
3) What do you think of the Hindi teacher?
4) Does the school have any counsellor? Have you sought help from that person?
5) Could the school principal be of any help?
6) Have you tried asking the grandmother to talk to the child?

I think it is imperative to nail down the real cause of an otherwise bright child, not willing to go for specific class.
Once you identify it, you can work on the remedy.
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Old 16th January 2023, 08:47   #3
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Re: Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

I request you to take her to a psychiatrist at the earliest. We recognize all physical symptoms immediately, but, we make a big mistake when it is issues of the mind. I am a 52 year surgeon, I lost my wife a couple of months back and i had to see a psychiatrist to get hold of myself. Losing a very close one is very difficult for children. Her mother must have helped her out with her hindi lessons and she is feeling the loss now. My two pence!
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Old 16th January 2023, 08:49   #4
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Re: Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

Not an expert in this field, but my mom's friend also faced a similar situation as a parent. His son who was good in studies did not want to go to school. Changing schools did not help. So, he (his wife had died of cancer) chose to homeschool his son. Everyone said that he was making a mistake, and that the boy was lazy. The boy went on to study abroad, and have a very successful career.

Try to understand your child and know why she doesn't like Hindi/school. Consider providing her help in Hindi and if that doesn't work, check if there is an option to learn some other language instead of Hindi. Since she is good in English, French could be considered. Anyway, do not force her to do something that she doesn't want to do.
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Old 16th January 2023, 08:49   #5
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Re: Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

Loss of a loved one is something that can manifest in unexpected ways. For a child who is used to excelling, suddenly having to face difficulty in any particular subject can be a something she doesn’t know how to deal with or get past. Combine the two, and add a teacher who is unable (I won’t say unwilling) to get through to the child, it’s the perfect storm.

Perhaps the solution can be something as simple as a new Hindi teacher. This, however, may also be systematic problem with the school at TGT level. This is something very common in CBSE schools in class 5-8, where focus is rote learning, marks and less individual attention. They are just not trained for or equipped to handle ‘difficult’ students beyond the traditional means of scare tactics, name calling and humiliation. At least in my experience and from what I hear from my friends in the teaching profession. IB schools are generally far better in this regard.

I will not suggest changing schools right away, as it will be another huge change in addition to what she is already going through. You can try having the kid work with a different Hindi teacher for a while, perhaps during lunch or in the after hours. If the child doesn’t respond, more measures can always be taken. Talk to her friends and see if there is another issue being this.

Last edited by Shreyans_Jain : 16th January 2023 at 08:54.
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Old 16th January 2023, 08:51   #6
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Re: Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

Very very sorry to hear about the untimely demise of your wife. Belated condolences.

As a single parent you are facing one of the toughest family situations we can find ourselves in. First be kind on yourself. You have landed back on your feet after the sad and disturbing passing away of your wife.

Children often are unable to express or decipher the real cause that is disturbing them. The Hindi teacher may be the expressed cause; the root cause might lie elsewhere. Your goal should first change from curing the symptom of 'child refuses to go to school' to 'let me address what is making my child scared and what can I change to make her happy'. Your goal should be 'what can I do to make my child happy'. Hidden suppressed grief of her mother's demise? someone bullying her or harassing her in school including sexual harassment? pressure from you/her elders to perform superbly in class? This last point of pressure to perform I bring up because of the emphasis you have laid on the awards she has won. Please do, for your child's sake, introspect on this. Too many of us as parents place unspoken expectations on a child sometimes without realizing it. Have you tried explaining that it is okay to fail in Hindi.

By trying to solve for 'trying to get her to school' you may be addressing the symptom rather than the root cause.

How much time are you spending with your child - real time one on one father & daughter? How much unconditional love and appreciation is she receiving. All of us as parents think we are doing enough of this. We should ask the child to know better. Take her to a counsellor/ qualified psychiatrist. Some grief or fear is bottled up in the child.

Give her and yourself 2 months to address this. Don't try to solve this in 2 weeks. Best wishes.

Last edited by V.Narayan : 16th January 2023 at 09:00.
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Old 16th January 2023, 08:54   #7
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Re: Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

Do not force the little one to learn Hindi as her second language. See if there are alternatives such as French and German and Italian and Spanish.
Hindi isn’t the be all and end all of life. There is a whole world beyond it. Even I hated the subject in school as many others in Southern India did and even now do. So as soon as I got a chance I ran to French. The best part is that despite all this I as a person of Southern origin actually speak, comprehend. Relate, read and write Hindi better than many persons of Northern origin are able to do with many other Indian languages.
Frankly all that one needs is conversational and comprehension ability in order to get through life’s general situations. No one is going to care a whit if you can or cannot quote reams of poetry by Sumitra Nandan Pant or Harivanshrai Bacchhan.
For example most people, even native Hindi speakers grumble that they cannot really understand the high flown Hindi being spoken on our Airlines or in the famous speeches and rhetoric of our bureaucrats and politicians up to and including the biggest bosses of government etc.
The purpose of language is to be able to communicate. Clearly and politely. And that’s the only thing that matters. Marks etc mean nothing in real life. Each child is gifted in different ways. No one has the right to make judgements based on the Cookie Cutter approach.
Take Heart . And Stand with your child in this. She will bless and reward you for it later.

Last edited by shankar.balan : 16th January 2023 at 08:59.
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Old 16th January 2023, 09:21   #8
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Re: Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

Thank you everyone. I was right in posting this here looking at the varied and very helpful responses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedTerrano View Post
1) Have you tried talking to her class mates? 1) Is she really the slowest in class?
2) What do the class mates think of the Hindi teacher?
3) What do you think of the Hindi teacher?
4) Does the school have any counsellor? Have you sought help from that person?
5) Could the school principal be of any help?
6) Have you tried asking the grandmother to talk to the child?
I haven't spoken to her friends but I know she is not that slow from the fact that we do homework together and she can read and write hindi at a fair pace. It is a minority school (a school of Union Biblical society) and there is no counsellor. As for her grandmother, she is old school and her opinion is that we should scold her/take away her privileges/give her a tough talk/force her to go to school which I am not at all willing to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rajeevsulu View Post
I request you to take her to a psychiatrist at the earliest.
Yes I am thinking of doing this very soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KL01toKA03 View Post
The boy went on to study abroad, and have a very successful career.
Anyway, do not force her to do something that she doesn't want to do.
Of course I will not force her to do anything that she doesn't want to and as for Hindi alternative, its and ICSE board school and Hindi is compulsory with no alternatives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shreyans_Jain View Post
Combine the two, and add a teacher who is unable (I wonít say unwilling) to get through to the child, itís the perfect storm.
You are correct about this hindi teacher. But from my observations the kid is not that bad in Hindi.

Quote:
Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
Very very sorry to hear about the untimely demise of your wife. Belated condolences.

Give her and yourself 2 months to address this. Don't try to solve this in 2 weeks. Best wishes.
Thank you. About the awards, there was no pressure. We (now I) do not believe in pressuring the child for good grades or anything else. Additionally I do believe that good grades in school do not automatically translate to a successful life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
Take Heart . And Stand with your child in this. She will bless and reward you for it later.
Like I said earlier in this post, there are no alternatives at this level in school. Of course I will stand by her and help her come out of this.
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Old 16th January 2023, 09:33   #9
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Re: Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

Sorry to hear about your wife. Considering what your child must be going through, do not put any pressure on her at all. Let her go with the flow as she would like to as she gets over the adversity with passage of time. You may also consult a psychologist to make it easy for her. I can imagine what she must be going through as I lost my father when I was in high school.

If she does not like to be with a particular class teacher, you may try to shift her to a different division of the same class in school or shift her to a different school that is very lenient with children next academic year. I see that you have already discussed with the class teachers. If she hates Hindi, shifting to a syllabus that does not have hindi/ have other options like French should also help.

Basically, be very lenient with her as she is going through a difficult phase. All the best. My prayers with you and your family.

Last edited by PatienceWins : 16th January 2023 at 09:36.
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Old 16th January 2023, 09:33   #10
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Re: Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

Hi. First of all, it is heartening to read how you are taking care of her in the wake of your loss. I know you are her father but I know too many 'hands off' fathers so for you to even reach out here and ask for help is commendable. All I will say is, keep loving her and taking care of her like this. She needs it all, and some more.

Please don’t lose heart. Children are complex human beings and tend to have very specific needs and it is sometimes hard to understand their emotions. But they are in the end children and need immense patience and almost impossible levels of understanding, which you might feel you don’t possess. But you do and you’ll both get through this.

Having said that, it was heartbreaking to read about your wife passing away due to Covid. My deepest condolences. I am no expert but being related to a child psychologist and educator may I suggest you immediately seek the help of a good, qualified child psychologist/counsellor. While you might think it’s just ‘Hindi’ that is causing her to skip school it is for sure connected to her mom’s passing away and her being unable to process this emotion and her feeling of this irreparable loss.

I think both of you would benefit from talking to a counsellor. The last few years have been extremely hard and your child probably needs tools to help understand what really happened and how to deal with it. By what you wrote, she was probably 7 when her mom passed. That is a huge emotional burden to carry, even for adults.

Under no circumstances should you scold her or stop her school, or change it - we think we send children to school for education but we’re actually sending them for social development and to learn how to interact with people, which Covid home schooling has stunted in most children as per what I’ve been told. She has friends there so changing her school might be detrimental - if her social interactions (friends, meeting them or having playdates) hasn't been affected, that is a great sign.

And while it might seem uncomfortable, a trained psychologist and counsellor might also help uncover if there is another issue at play. Sometimes kids are bullied or pained in other ways by someone at school and can’t tell their parents. Maybe her Hindi teacher reminds her of her mom, or maybe she and her mom had an understanding on Hindi which now she cannot process without her mom being there. It is best she and you talk to an expert.

What had happened to her and you is tragic and you need guidance so you can connect with your daughter again, and so she can trust you with her emotions like she did her mom. Children tend to be more emotionally available to the mother, especially girls.

And no matter what the hindi teacher says, it is her job to make sure your daughter is feeling safe and secure to come to school. She is failing, not you and certainly not your daughter. If there is an option of talking to the staff, other students and higher ups, try and ascertain if the teacher is rude or abusive. I had a hindi teacher who was so offensive that I stopped paying attention in class. But those were different times and now it is probably easier to get accountability from teachers too.

And don’t worry, she is only 10 years old. Her ‘future’ won’t get spoiled. Treat this as a hiccup in life, a challenge thrown at you, which you’ll be able to get over. Kids are resilient and she will bounce back. As long as she as a kind and understanding father like you by her side.

Just make sure you remind her that she is loved and no matter what, you’re there for her and will never leave her. She is a girl and her emotions are wired very differently and at 10 she’s having to deal with such a massive loss so be even more gentle and kind with her.

And I hope people around you and your family are being gentle and kind with you too.

Talking about your loss to a counsellor will help you too, immensely. You need to heal too. It is easy to get caught up in bringing up your daughter, but please do take care of yourself and your mental health and emotional state too.

Take care and don’t lost hope or patience. Just love her like you’re doing now, and show it as much as you can. Yours is a great challenge to be her father and mother, but you can do it, like you are. All will be well. And we're here to offer our help if any is needed.

Just keep the faith.

Last edited by Evyas : 16th January 2023 at 09:37. Reason: Spelling mistakes
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Old 16th January 2023, 09:44   #11
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Re: Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

Quote:
Originally Posted by luvDriving View Post
... hates the subject Hindi and hates being the slowest hindi writer in class...
What's her exposure to Hindi, beyond academic material?

If she enjoys reading, get her age-appropriate recreational reading material in the language, so she can engage with the language without academic pressure. You could look at children's comic books (Champak, Chandamama) or youth literature (Panchatantra, Jataka Tales etc.). There's plenty of great choices these days.

Languages are best learnt in context, slowly over time, to retain interest. That's what my mother did for me & my sister from a young age. She wasn't much of a Hindi speaker owing to being a Karanataka transplant to MP, and didn't know much English at all back then.

She got herself magazines to improve herself, and the kids comic books to engage us, moving on to higher grade material as we aged and got better. Circulating libraries were our savior those days. I looked forward to weekly exchanging my books for the next interesting thing in the librarian's magic bag of stories.

Today, both she and her two kids are not only fluent in Hindi, English and Kannada (something we would have lost touch with growing up outside the state), we genuinely enjoy content in all three languages.

Give it a try. It'll be a slow process though, so patience is paramount.

P.S. I don't subscribe to dropping (any) languages as a subject because they're difficult. Languages are a basic block of our existence; how we learn to think, ideate, create, converse and experience. Dropping a subject academically is a personal and often necessary logistical choice, but abandoning a language altogether just deprives us of all the fantastic experiences it contains within its alphabet.

Nobody would consider letting their kid drop English as a subject, however difficult it gets, because it's considered necessary for 'success' in life. We need to value languages more than mere instruments of succeeding materially.

It's worth taking a pause and considering that our kids might be hating the way of learning a subject we impose on them, rather than the subject itself.

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 16th January 2023 at 10:18. Reason: A point
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Old 16th January 2023, 09:56   #12
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Re: Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

About 30 years ago, I was in the same boat. I used to dread Hindi and the narcissistic teacher only made matters worse. I begged my parents to move me to some school where there is no Hindi or at least to another class where there is a different teacher. All the imploring fell on deaf ears. Turns out Hindi was compulsory(and still is, 30 years later) in all schools. What I find funny is Malayalam (which is the native language here) is not compulsory at all and you can opt for foreign languages instead.

30 years later I see my son struggling with his Hindi lessons. He stands first in his class in all subjects except Hindi and Malayalam. Because Hindi and Malayalam have similar letters, but words are written differently, he often confuses them. And every evening I hear my wife fighting him over a word or other he wrote wrong. And sadly for him, since he does well in all other subjects my wife has made it a mission to teach only Hindi and Malayalam at home making his life at home also miserable. I usually lose the battle with her because... err well, you never win battles against women.

This Hindi imposition has to stop. Why should a kid learn three languages at school while in more advanced countries they teach the kids one or maximum two languages, the second being an elective?

ps: Despite all the hardships I went through, I can now converse quite a bit in Hindi and it has helped me immensely during my years in Bangalore and my travels to North India.

ps2: Sorry, I don't have any solutions to offer, but please be sympathetic towards the kid. I know first hand how it feels to be in her shoes.

Last edited by dragonfire : 16th January 2023 at 09:58.
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Old 16th January 2023, 10:07   #13
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Re: Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

As many members have pointed out, the real issue seems to be something else. At ten years, children are unable to express properly what they feel. Why even adults sometimes hide their emotional problems. Be with her as much as possible.

Language is always a difficult subject at school. What with all the language pride in India, there is too much being taught about languages at school. We are already among those who need to learn the maximum number of languages for any country. First, second and why even third language sometimes. Not content with basic grammar, we are also forced to read poetry, prose and ancient contents which may not be very relevant today. My Tamil language exams in school were a disaster most of the time much to the disappointment of my parents who were quite good at it.

I hope you come out of this alright.
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Old 16th January 2023, 10:26   #14
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Re: Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

Hello,
I can relate to this matter in 3 ways:

1. A classmate of mine in 3rd grade would behave in the exact same way when he lost his mother. Would not come of the bathroom and make other excuses. So counselling and psychiatric help is definitely recommended.

2. I dont think hindi is compulsory in ICSE board as a classmate had opted for French.

3. I too experienced difficulty with studying Hindi. Comic books, writing practice and interacting at home in Hindi did help matters.

P.S. my condolences for your loss.
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Old 16th January 2023, 10:46   #15
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Re: Need suggestions: Daughter refuses to go to school

Quote:
Originally Posted by luvDriving View Post
Now lately she has started missing school regularly. Either she goes to the bathroom and refuses to come out or she refuses to get out of the car once we are at the school or she goes inside the gates and comes running out. In all three cases she is crying.
This is definitely not a HINDI issue, so I think you should stop focussing on that.

There is a very tiny possibility of child abuse by an adult male inside the school. Talk to your child about this or visit a child psychiatrist to rule that out.

Anyway, change of school for the next year is a must.
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