Are the lessons you teach your boys inspirational or completely forgettable? I was an attentive student and I earned excellent grades. As I think back on my childhood education, however, there are very few lessons that actually stick in my mind.
I remember the smoking machine that my fifth-grade teacher made to show us the dangers of smoking cigarettes. I remember the theoretical wagon train that my eighth-grade teacher took us on to teach us about the western migration in America. I remember making rock candy in tenth-grade chemistry. I remember dissecting animals (yuck!) in biology.
What do all of these things have in common? They all involved either hands-on activity or essentially acting out the lesson.
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” – Plutarch
If this is truly the case, we must find different ways to educate our sons than merely throwing a stack of worksheets in front of them and calling it schoolwork. The minds of our sons are yearning for something more – a way of learning which will satisfy their need for movement as well as ignite a desire to learn in their souls.
There are several ways we can ignite their enthusiasm for learning:
1. Hands-on Activities – Yes, they are messy. Yes, they take more time to prepare. Yes, they eat up more time than does filling out a dreaded worksheet. But when he is an adult, will your son be more likely to remember filling in the blanks of History Worksheet Page 86 or launching pumpkins from a life-sized catapult that he built in the backyard?
Take the time to research and include hands-on activities in your lessons. Boys need to complete real tasks to be able to fully appreciate all of the nuances of a particular subject. Complete all of the suggested science experiments. Create models. They may take more time – but even a few of these projects each week will make your lessons real for your sons.
2. Field Trips – If you are studying geography and can visit the place in person, your child will remember it forever. If you are learning about a type of flower that you can find in the woods, it will become more real to your child. If you’re studying the industrial age and take a tour of a factory, more information from the lessons will make sense and stick with your child.
It’s not always possible to find relevant field trips for everything we study; however, there are an ever increasing number of parks, museums, historical sites, companies, etc. available to visit. Most of us can take many more field trips than we do. Try fitting a few more field trips into your lesson plans and watch learning come to life.
3. Play Games – Games are always appreciated by boys. If you’re teaching them about Native Americans, let them play a game of lacrosse (after they’ve built their own equipment, of course.) If you’re learning about medieval England, let them have a sword fight. If you are reviewing math facts, throw down a bunch of numbers on the floor and let them see who can dive onto the correct answer first. Review any lesson by playing a custom game of Jeopardy. Learning doesn’t have to be mundane. Try to keep it lively and fresh!
4. Videotape or Photos – Instead of having your son write out what he has just learned, you can occasionally let him tell the information in the form of a news broadcast which you videotape. Or let him create a photo collage of the events. It’s important for kids to be able to communicate by writing down their ideas. It’s equally important, however, for them to be able to communicate in other ways such as verbally, visually, etc. Instead of always making them write everything out, try to come up with come creative ways for them to report back what they’ve learned.
5. Act it Out – If you really want to be sure your kids understand their lessons, have them act out what they’ve learned for you. The more you allow them to get into this by wearing costumes, making sets, etc. the more they will remember. Acting out lessons is a wonderful way to find out what they really learned – and to get those lessons to stick in their heads.
6. Humor and Silly Voices – When you are reading information to your boys, be sure you use silly voices and humorous expressions. Get your boys to laugh. Who says that every historical figure had a deadpan, slightly bored voice. When reading about an explorer who comes upon a band of Native Americans with arrows trained on them, your voice should register fright. If a character speaks using pompous words, give them a pompous voice. Really go for it. Read with animation. Your boys will appreciate it and be much more apt to remember what they’ve heard.
7. Mentorships/Internships – Depending on the age of your child, getting them involved with a mentor or an internship of some type is one of the greatest learning experiences of all. This is real world experience! Give them a chance to learn about cars by working on cars with a mechanic. Let them learn some biology by observing a veterinarian. These experiences will be life changing and your sons will never be the same. What kinds of skills do their grandparents have? Would they be willing to share some of their life experiences with your kids?
Are the lessons you teach your boys inspirational or completely forgettable? It’s never too late to incorporate some additional activities into your lessons and ignite your child’s enthusiasm for learning.
Question: What have you done to successfully ignite enthusiasm in your son? If you have any tips to share please leave a comment below.