As a general rule, the attention span of boys tends to be shorter than that of girls. Obviously this varies with each child. There are more boys who suffer from ADHD. And even boys who have wonderful powers of focus still have a tendency to move, bounce, fiddle with objects, look around, and generally want to be on the move.
Fortunately, it is possible to promote a healthy environment for your boys which will be more conducive for their homeschooling. Consider these lifestyle choices increase the attention span of boys:
- Organize your day – A consistent routine is good for all children and especially for boys and/or those who might struggle with ADHD.
- Turn off the TV – Keep TV watching and listening to the radio to a minimum. Children need quiet times without background noise in order to think, listen, and read to their full potential.
- Consistent Bedtimes – Set an early bedtime, one which will allow your child to get plenty of sleep. If your child is getting 8 hours of sleep per night or less, they are NOT getting adequate rest at night. Children need a surprising amount of sleep – probably more than you think! See the chart below to determine what time your son should be getting to bed each night for optimum performance.
NOTE: Some experts say that some kids need even more sleep than this!
- Breakfast – Make sure your child has a hearty breakfast and a multi-vitamin. Having a well-balanced breakfast will help them to think more clearly and not get as tired during their studies.
- Discipline – Provide consistent discipline for your children. Set a few clear rules and stick to them. If your sons are well disciplined during regular life, they will also be much better disciplined during school hours.
Your son’s attention span should be at least 3-5 minutes long for each year of his age. So the typical kindergartener should be able to stay on task for at least 15 minutes. When we are homeschooling boys, there are several things we can do to help increase the attention span of boys as well as their enjoyment for learning:
- Breaks – Take a break between topics and allow your boys to get up, stretch, run down the hall… even to run a few laps around the house. Including some activities for boys such as these will allow them to release their pent up energy will go a long way towards helping them to stay focused while they study.
- Change it up – Boys get easily bored with the same information or the same methods. If they understand a topic, move on. You can go back and review later to make sure that they fully grasp the information. If you review over and over with boys they will become bored and their minds will disengage. Also, try new techniques with boys. If you usually do math worksheets, try having them answer orally or on the computer. This will help them to remain interested and will certainly increase the attention span of boys.
- Control – Boys love to feel that they have at least some control over their studies. Give your sons several choices that you would be happy with and let them make some of the decisions. Or let them decide which subject they are going to tackle next. When boys are given this kind of freedom, you will find yourself struggling with them less throughout the day.
- Interest Area – The greatest motivator for boys is to teach them something that interests them. Let your boys pick topics they are interested in and then allow them to explore them fully. They can do this in addition to their regular studies or during breaks. Their excitement for all of their studies will increase when they are allowed to pursue things they love as well.
- Manipulatives – Give your boys objects that they can taste, touch, smell and see. Boys learn well with tactile and kinesthetic learning; so, the more of their senses you can incorporate into activities for boys, the more understanding and enjoyment they will have of their lessons.
- Movement – Ensure lots of opportunities for movement. Boys have lots of energy. If you allow them to expend this energy in accepted ways, they will be less likely to act out when it isn’t appropriate.
- Spread Out – Rather than keep your boys confined to a desk, let your boys spread out at a table, on the floor, or on the couch. If boys are allowed to move around a bit while doing their book work or papers, you will find that they will get their work done more quickly and with less resistance.
- Silly Stuff – If you’re finding it hard to hold the attention of your sons, try speaking in a silly voice or acting goofy as you are presenting the information. Injecting a little bit of unexpected humor into your presentations can really grab and hold the interest of boys.
- Talk Breaks – Provide frequent talk breaks for your boys to minimize disruptions. Boys have lots of questions – make sure you give them opportunities to ask these questions and to probe as deeply into a topic as they would like.
- Visuals Use lots of visuals to maintain interest. Most boys learn visually, so seeing the information will make it easier for them to learn that just hearing the information.
Incorporate these tips into your school day and watch the attention span of boys in your house increase. With a little bit of creativity, homeschooling boys can be a rewarding experience for both you and your sons.
Question: Do your boys have a long attention span or a short one? Do you have any tips you’ve learned for increasing a child’s attention span? Please leave a comment below.