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Deanna Moisset

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Student boredom can be a concern of parents, administrators, teachers, and students, as it may effect performance in the classroom. So, what can be done to address boredom? Please read the following articles; you may gain a fresh perspective.


A primer for gifted students and their parents

Do you often say, “I’m BORED”? First, recognize that it is ok to be bored sometimes. Boredom is a state that we all feel at one time or another. Assure yourself that everyone has periods when they are not interested in what is happening or when they have to do repetitive tasks. If you are bored a lot, you need to learn how to deal with boredom.

The first step to overcoming boredom is to analyze what being bored means to you. Here are some helpful hints to face boredom head-on:

1. Try keeping a boredom log for 2 weeks to help determine the frequency, intensity and severity of the boredom [attachment 1]. Chart specific information about the periods of boredom. Track the following information:

  • Time of Day – early morning, before lunch, 2 hours after lunch, end of the school day, after school, evening
  • Type of Activity – repetitive, waiting, writing, reading, listening, other
  • Content Area – history, reading, math, science, language, other
  • Location – home, school, with friends, with adults, alone, other
  • Feelings – fear or risks, fear of failure, confused, lack of choice, left out, lack of direction

After 2 weeks look at the log. If a pattern appears try to determine what is causing these boredom feelings. A parent or teacher can help you interpret the information you gather and help you develop coping options and make a plan. 

1. If boredom at school is a serious problem, talk to your parents and teachers. Find out more about your learning style. Ask for alternative tasks that meet your learning style whenever possible. If your teacher is not open to substitutions, the other options may still be used as ways to reinforce the learning, or perhaps be offered as extra credit. As you get older you can select instructors whose teaching style best meets your learning style.

2. Keep a Relevancy Log [attachment 2]. This will help you determine how interesting and useful a subject is to you.

3. Complete a Boredom Proneness Scale [attachment 3] to determine how easily you get bored.

Once you have more information you can make a plan of action. Decide which areas are easiest to address or what coping options can be changed. Sometimes it will require a change in the situation. In the classroom, for example, not everything is adaptable. If you wish to ask for a change in the classroom, approach the teacher in a positive way. Your parents can help with this. 

More often, a change within oneself is the easiest to control. Linda Deal (The Boredom Solution) suggests the following:

  • Don’t expect the situation to change – look for ways to make it more interesting. 
  • Choose to work with people who are excited about what they are doing when given a choice of work partners.
  • Ask to sit somewhere in the room where you feel more involved in what’s going on. Often bright students are well-behaved so they get moved to the back of the room where it is easy to lose focus.
  • Have a list of things you can do when bored. Maybe reading a book, drawing, writing in a journal, etc.
  • At home, stay away from the television – instead select after-school activities that are more active.
  • Practice self-talk if you need to work on changing your sense of time. For example, “I will work 2 more minutes” or “I can meet this challenge if I try.” It can be as simple as the power of positive thinking.

 To learn more about boredom and how to help your child cope, check out The Boredom Solution by Linda Deal, published by Dandy Lion Publications or Get Off My Brain: A Survival Guide for Lazy, Bored, Frustrated, and Otherwise Sick of School Students by Randall McCutcheon, published by Free Spirit Press.


Boredom 101

Understanding and Dealing with Boredom in Gifted Students
A Primer for Teachers
[Adapted from The Boredom Solution by Linda Deal]

Gifted students warrant special attention, especially when the curriculum is not at the appropriate level for the child’s ability. Researchers have found the following regarding boredom in school:

  • Boredom occurs across all ability groups but is generally higher among high-ability students.
  • Correlations exist between boredom in school and outside of school.
  •  Gifted students who tend to report boredom feel it in several different situations.

    Literature on gifted students lists a proneness to being bored as one of the problem characteristics of giftedness. Interestingly, a complaint of boredom frequently triggers a referral for gifted services.

    Several traits of giftedness have a direct connection to boredom. Here are some to watch for in your students:

    Gifted Characteristic                                                                                   Boredom Factor

    Has a seemingly endless amount of energy                                                A Need for Physical Activity

    Has a high degree of motivation for work that interests him or her            Feelings of Control
    Self-sufficient; needs little direction
    Is an independent thinker

    Sensitive                                                                                                      Basic Needs Fulfillment
    Has high expectations for own performance
    Strives for perfection

    Enjoys challenges/has a desire to learn                                                     A Need for Mental Activity
    Is impatient with repetition
    Is intolerant of routine tasks
    Able to think abstractly/process information quickly
    Exhibits curiosity
    Interested in a wide range of subjects, many beyond typical age-level

    Can sustain long periods of concentration                                                Time
    Learns basic skills/information quickly
    May focus on one particularly topic and study it in depth

    Is able to think creatively                                                                           Coping Options
    Can draw inferences and interpret nonverbal cues

Is Your Class Really Boring? Some simple suggestions…..

1. Check the “boredom thermometer” of your class. Talk to your students, ask which topics they find boring and which they find interesting. Since most curriculum is required, you may not have a choice in what you present, but you can choose how to present it.

2. Develop a “focus-of-attention gauge.” Determine a signal to use periodically that, when given, students should write down exactly where their mind is (anonymously, of course!). Record the topic and activity and collect the papers. Compare the attention focus with the activity to determine the lesson’s effectiveness.

3. Once you have some feedback, try refreshing your approach. Linda Deal suggests putting some action, reaction, & traction into your lessons. Ask your class to respond by standing, moving or mingling in response to a question instead of raising their hand. Get them moving or into action! Check your students’ reactions by questioning. Asking “How do you feel about this?” or “How is everyone doing?” are good indicators of your class’s involvement. If students are tired, take a 2-minute break. You will accomplish more after the break that will more than make up for the 2 minutes lost. A final approach to try deals with justdigging in and moving forward. This lets students take knowledge they have just learned and apply it or reflect on it. This is a great time to try some tiered assignments or put the multiple intelligences to work through a variety of activities.

4. Show enthusiasm for the lesson. If you aren’t interested in the activity, neither will students.

5. Change the pace – try to speed things up using a visual or graphic organizer instead of a wordy handout. Or, try a slower presentation that focuses on elaboration and attention to detail.

6. Use “fat” questions! Fat questions require analysis and reflection and involve thinking deeply. They require students to get mentally involved and not just “spit back” information. It requires justification of an answer – in other words, it requires thinking.

7. Last, but not least, help students develop boredom awareness. Recognizing the problem is half the battle. Brainstorm coping strategies student use now (good and bad). Discuss reasons why some strategies are preferred. Help students build an internal file of alternatives that will help them stay on task and interested.