“My child says they have no interest in Physics!”
“My child’s teachers tell me that he pays no attention in class!”
“My child studies for everything except Physics! It’s so frustrating, trying to get him to study!”
These are the all too common protests I hear from parents, all in my years of being a Physics teacher. Does your child often seem reluctant to learn more than what the teacher has taught on Physics topics? Or, maybe, they are perfectly content and even willing to revise for other subjects, but display an absolute distaste for their Physics textbook? Then, they might have no interest in Physics.
While these five tips are not a cure-all solution for children with no interest in Physics, they will hopefully provide some insight (and assistance!) into your child’s disinterest.
1. Communicate with your child.
Ask about their day.
It isn’t uncommon for parents to speak less and less with their children as they grow up, albeit unconsciously, due to them spending more time at school and other activities or other reasons. Hence, children may not tell their parents about everything that happens in school, and deal with it on their own.
In this context, it may mean that the child could have a bad Physics teacher, not just in terms of mismatched teaching style, but also a personality that is completely incompatible with teaching children in school. Over the course of a year, such teachers may slowly grind down the child’s morale by yelling at them for poor marks, or impose overly high standards by harshly marking their Physics papers, so harshly that a once excelling child may now be struggling to pass.
However, the child may not want to tell their parents because they don’t want to burden them or they want to be independent. Thus, the child would just suffer silently in class, all while slowly losing interest because of their teacher. A way to rectify this is to have a short chat with your child, to check that their teachers aren’t being too tough on them, and encourage them using positive reinforcement for realistic good grades, with a overly harsh teacher. This will help to lift your child’s spirits, as they will see that they have someone on their side supporting them emotionally.
2. Show your child real world applications of Physics.
Check work policies on bringing your children.
A very common sentiment I often hear from my students is that Physics is not a subject they will be using in their daily lives, as they will be going into completely unrelated fields. These students will then start wanting to learn only the bare minimum from their teachers, and will forget their learnt Physics knowledge at the first opportunity where it is not needed.
Start by checking your workplace’s policies on bringing your children to work. If you or your spouse work in a Physics related field, and are lucky enough to have your workplace’s policies allow or encourage things like “Bring Your Kid To Work Day”, go ahead and bring your child to work on a school holiday and show them around! This will let them see how Physics assist you in your daily work, and gain an appreciation for real life Physics.
If your workplace does not offer such policies, another way to do it is to take your child to places with Physics exhibits, like the airport and Science Centre.
3. Send your child for physics tuition.
A good tutor raises morale and interest.
Good physics tutors are often able to spark and inspire interest in their students, due to a far smaller class size than in school, and closer attention paid when it comes to the root cause of your child’s difficulties in scoring for Physics. While a class teacher in school may not have time to conduct many interesting Physics experiments or lessons due to time constraints, a tuition lesson, if well planned, will have time for this.
Another reason for possible disinterest in your child is the fact that Physics, especially Pure Physics, is an extremely content-heavy subject. Hence, teachers who are short on time will end up rushing through the syllabus, leading to mass confusion and distress. This is a big culprit in the long list of possible reasons a child can be disinterested, as they may not have a good grasp on the topics in the subject, and may feel too stupid to understand it. Hence, sending them to a good Physics tutorwould help to work out the gaps in their knowledge. Alternatively, if they are very close to a big Physics exam, it might be helpful to send them to “Physics crash courses” that occur in the days before big exams, and quickly recap or learn the most important concepts in order to be able to score well.
There are very many reasons a child could be disinterested in Physics, from having an overly harsh teacher in school, to not feeling like Physics is applicable in their real lives, to not having a good grasp on the topics. Hence, it is important for parents to sit down with their children and investigate the source of disinterest in Physics, gradually working towards solving it.