Overview: Why do so many boys balk when it comes to learning? Are we doing it all wrong? Here are some easy tips to help boys love to learn!
Any parent with more than one child knows that they are all unique individuals with different strengths and weaknesses. However, there are some traits which are more prevalent in boys than in girls. And once we’re aware of these typical characteristics, we can use them while teaching our children. Unfortunately, most school systems are currently set up in ways that benefit girls. They require them to sit still, to read lots of textbooks, and to complete lots of worksheets.
Homeschools in most states aren’t obligated to teach kids the same way that they do in schools. But because most of us homeschool moms were educated in traditional schools, however, it comes naturally for us to teach our kids in the same ways that we ourselves were taught.
And those teaching methods can be detrimental to our sons.
The good news is that with a little bit of research and effort, we can change our ways and make learning much more appealing for our boys.
Here are 7 Ways to Help Boys Love to Learn:
1 – Mix it Up
Most boys don’t like to sit still and read for hours on end. And even boys who enjoy reading, don’t necessarily want to read Shakespeare or Charlotte Bronte. Choose books which are interesting to your son. Try to vary the activities in your homeschool between sedentary ones and those that allow more movement. Make sure your son has ways to burn off extra energy.
2 – Include Food
Remember the saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?!? That goes for our sons as well. If you can keep your son’s belly full, you’ll be more likely to keep his attention on his lessons. Allow him to eat snacks while you’re reading books aloud. Feed him plenty of protein. If he says he’s hungry, be willing to pause so that he can get something to eat. There’s no sense continuing on with lessons if your son’s mind is distracted by his hunger.
3 – Include Interests
If someone told you to read a book about the best ways to lubricate the motor inside a refrigerator, or listen to a lesson about the digestive system of a dung beetle, or have a hands-on lesson in sumo wrestling, you might be less than enthused. (At least I would be.)
When we ask our sons to diagram sentences, read girlie books, or learn about algebraic equations, they also have a tendency to be unenthusiastic. The traditional school topics don’t always interest our children. We can’t ditch everything but we can be intentional about including subjects which DO interest our boys.
When studying history, be sure to include information about the battles, the weapons, the intrigue. When studying science, throw in a few gross facts about the animals you’re discussing. If your son absolutely loves designing video games, be sure he has ample time to design video games. This is an integral part of helping our boys love to learn!
4 – Give Him Some Control
Men love being in charge and our sons are men in training. They love to have at least some control in their day. Allow them to choose what time they start their lessons, or the order of their subjects, or different ways that they will learn. Ask him what he enjoys the most about school and listen to what he says. When you find things he dislikes about learning, try to come up with alternative ways to learn that information.
Consider changing curriculum, reading a different book, watching a movie or listening to an audiobook rather than requiring him to read the textbook.
5 – Use Humor
Boys love the unexpected. They find humor in the strangest topics, such as bodily functions. When your son comes up with a goofy joke, be sure to laugh. Try to surprise him with humorous information from time to time.
When my boys were younger, I remember asking them to answer some questions about their lesson. And if they got the answer right, I threw one of those candy circus peanuts into their mouths. They were totally surprised and it made the whole process fun.
6 – Let Them Sleep
Our kids NEED their sleep. Most of them need much more sleep than they’re getting. Rather than waking them up at the crack of dawn, consider allowing them to sleep in a bit longer.
Delay starting homeschool lessons until they’ve had a chance to wake up. And some boys also appreciate having some time to exercise or do something more physical before having to sit down and concentrate.
7 – Accommodate Learning Style
We often think that reading, writing, and arithmetic are the most important parts of our child’s education. But what makes reading information more valuable than hearing it, seeing it, or discussing it? What makes writing what your child has learned more important than giving a speech about it, creating a video about it, designing a Minecraft world which gives an example of it, drawing an illustration of it, snapping a photo of it, creating a blog about it, etc?
There are MANY ways our kids can learn the same information. Rather than sticking with teaching techniques which are emphasized in most school settings, consider adding in some less traditional methods. Try a variety of activities and see how your child responds.
It isn’t always easy to go off the beaten path to explore different ways of presenting information to our kids. But it’s certainly worth it. With a few small tweaks, we can help in teaching boys how to love to learn. And once their curiosity has been peaked, they are much more likely to find what they’re passionate about and will eventually want to pursue.
Originally written for True Aim Education. Reprinted with permission.