What to Do When Kids Say: I’m Bored!

As teachers, we work so hard to make learning interesting and engaging for kids. This practice gets harder and harder with the number of requirements that keep getting heaped on, with less and less time to do it due to increased testing. Knowing how hard I work to spark my students’ interest, there is no worse comment I could hear than “I’m bored.” I feel deflated, defeated, and defensive.


This actually happened just yesterday when I was working with a small group on ScootPad. My student, Luka, was distractedly punching keys on his computer and then said to me, “Can I go back to my seat and do other work? I’m bored.”

“Bored?” I thought. “Oh no! Maybe ScootPad has run its course and it’s not engaging the kids anymore. Maybe the excitement has died down and it’s all “work” to them now. I mean, who has time in school to be bored?” I was ready to actually announce my last thought aloud when I stopped myself. There is so much to engage kids within ScootPad, I knew there was more to it than simply being bored.

“What’s boring you?” I asked.

“These math problems. They’re just really boring.” I came over and saw that he was getting a number of problems wrong in a row.

When problems feel hard, kids can get "bored."
When problems feel hard, kids can get “bored.”

Knowing Luka, a bright boy for whom most learning comes easily, I asked, “Does it feel boring to get the problems wrong over and over?” He shrugged.

I had deciphered the code! We sat and problem solved some of what had been tripping him up. I saw the light go on in his eyes and his energy picked up.

“Oh!” he exclaimed, “So THAT is how you do it!” Re-energized, he went back to work, newly engaged. I moved on to another student. “Ms. Anthony,” I heard him call over, “I got 20/20. Can I do another?”

So much for being bored!

Dr. Michelle Anthony

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