8 Ways to Keep Learning Fun for Teens and Tweens

Overview: Got older kids? Do they complain about their boring lessons? Would they rather do anything besides learn? Add a few of these ideas to keep learning fun!

When our kids are young, we often feel inspired to make learning fun. It seems quite natural to add hands-on learning, to find projects that interest them, and to incorporate lots of laughing into our day.

As our kids get older, however, we have a tendency to make learning more serious. Our anxiety level goes up as we start thinking about getting our kids into college, as well as about transcripts and career choices.

Homeschooling stops being fun and becomes more stressful for our kids… and for us.

8 Ways to Keep Learning Fun for Teens and Tweens

Learning will not be a daily carnival for our older kids, but it doesn’t have to be a total drag, either. Think about it. If you were going to learn about something, would you rather have the experience be enjoyable or would you prefer that it be mind-numbingly boring?

Here are 8 Ways to Keep Learning Fun for Teens and Tweens:

1 – Delight Directed Learning

Let your kids choose which subjects they will study from year to year. For instance, rather than just following a specific track, let your child choose something he will enjoy learning about.  

One of my sons absolutely loves astronomy. So, when it came time to choose what he would study for science this year (his freshman year of high school) he decided he would love to learn even more about astronomy and the space program.

Letting him choose his topic will help to keep him interested in his assignments all year long. It will also ensure that he learns much more than if he were being forced to study general science or biology, which are typically tackled in 9th grade.

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2 – Allow Movement 

Just because your kids are older doesn’t mean they want to sit still all day long reading books and writing papers. The more hands-on learning and projects you can incorporate into your day, the more enjoyable learning will be.

You can usually tell when your teens are getting antsy. Sometimes they will tap their toes or their pencils. They will fidget or pace.

You’ve probably seen this type of behavior from your husband as well. Males think better when they are moving. Physical activity increases blood flow, and hence oxygen, to the brain. This increases their ability to pay attention, increases memory, and makes learning easier.

Movement while learning is beneficial for men and women alike – but it’s even more crucial for boys.

3 – Mix it Up

Books are great! There is a lot of value in having our children read to learn new information. It’s also very easy to hand our kids a book and walk away. However, if we want our kids to learn more fully, we need to involve all of their senses.  

Incorporate some technology into your homeschool. Listen to audio dramas from time to time. Place a more physical activity between two more sedentary ones.

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4 – Allow them to Choose

Let’s face it! Our tweens and teens hate being told what to do all the time. They are in the strange position of feeling like adults, but actually still being immature in some ways. Whenever we can allow our kids to decide for themselves, however, we will find that things will be much more enjoyable for everyone involved.

A few years back, I shook up our homeschool and started doing things very differently. I had been giving my boys a daily task list for years – but I switched over to a weekly task list instead. Then, I set expectations for them and let them choose what they worked on when.  

I didn’t force them to do specific subjects each day. I didn’t demand that they start at any specific time. The only rule was that they needed to complete everything I had assigned to them by the time my husband got home on Friday evening.

Switching things up like this created much more positive attitudes in our homeschool. My boys felt that they had some control over their days. And I no longer felt like I had to stand over them and micro-manage their time.

Try to brainstorm ways you can give your teens more freedom. Let them make more decisions about how and when they will learn. It will surprise you at the significant difference this one minor change can make!

5 – Play Games

Games aren’t just for young kids. Boys LOVE to compete! Try to incorporate games into your homeschool whenever you can.

If you have more than one child reading the same book or learning the same material, ask questions and let them buzz in like on Jeopardy to give the answer. Play board games to learn logic skills. 

Smile, laugh, use humor, and try to appeal to their playful nature. Homeschooling fun is achievable if we’re intentional about including it in our lessons.

6 – Keep it Real

Real life learning includes things such as taking field trips, volunteer opportunities, internships, chores, and adding in hands-on activities. One time, my dad, my sister, and I took the 7 grandkids on vacation in Boyne Falls, Michigan for a week.

We spent one day at Fort Michilimackinac, which is a reconstructed British fort from the 1700s. While we were there, the kids asked the costumed interpreters lots of questions. We went from building to building and the kids asked lots of questions. In fact, they never stopped asking questions until the adults would pull the plug and tell them it was time to go on to the next building.

When we returned to our condo that evening, my dad quizzed the kids on every obscure fact he could think of from our visit. We were all amazed at how much they remembered. The kids were from age 6 to 16 and they all learned a ton from our trip.  

No pencils were picked up. No written quizzes were given. But a ton of learning happened, nonetheless.

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7 – Take a Class

Sometimes, our older kids need to get out into the real world and take a class or two with a different teacher. Consider letting them take a class at a community college. Look for computer classes or community education classes in your area. Search through some Open Courseware to let your teen take an online class.

8 – Challenge Them

Give your teen a problem and have him solve it for himself. Allow your tween to start his own business. Have him research and figure out as many of the steps as he can on his own. Allow your child to do hard things and to stretch himself. Work on teaching him the life skills he will need to be a responsible adult.  

Increasingly expose your son to the real world (within reason) so that when he moves out on his own or go off to college, what he encounters won’t shock him.

As our kids get older, it isn’t always possible to make learning fun. As you can see, however, there are plenty of ways that we can make it more enjoyable and even pleasant. No matter what age our kids are, we should attempt to keep the love in learning.  

The more we’re able to make lessons appealing to our teens and tweens the more likely that they will become lifelong learners. And isn’t that our ultimate goal?

Question: How do you make learning more enjoyable for your teens or tweens? Do you have any tips you can share for keeping the love in learning? Please leave a comment below.

8 Ways to Keep Learning Fun for Teens and Tweens
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12 thoughts on “8 Ways to Keep Learning Fun for Teens and Tweens”

  1. Darlene Oliveira

    This is my year to shake things up. I am putting all the “must do to graduate” classes in the morning and am asking them to come up with their own afternoon schedule. I am hoping it will give me a little more breathing space to get house chores accomplished, and I am interested to see what they tackle. My oldest is driving now so their choices truly are limitless. I love your idea of a weekly list. I have learned the benefit of giving them lists for chores to be accomplished. I will definitely give it a try with their school work too. Thanks so much.

  2. I have registered my son in three different co-ops to keep the week full of variety
    Monday is for Biology. Tuesday is for Writing and Monday night is Bible Study Fellowship with his dad. I hope this shakes it up enough this 9th grade year!

    Of course, riding his bike outdoors and playing with our Lab, Rudy, are still
    going to be part of his days.

  3. Hi Michelle
    Thanks for a great post with so many helpful ideas. I clicked on a link about how you shook up your homeschool a few years ago and oh my, a brilliant post. This idea of giving your children (older),their assignments/work for a whole week and giving them the freedom and responsibility to carry it out by the end of the week. I read about this recently on another blog and I think it is a great idea. I have been wondering whether to change our routine up a bit. My boys are 11 year old twins and a nearly 9 year old and they are all night owls and sleep late. If anyone is up before 8.00am I consider it early! We only just started homeschooling this year in February (our school year runs February – December in New Zealand). I like to start our day with a Morning Time of Bible or Devotional, memory verses and other reading and then we move into independant work which they can do in any order (I write in notebooks their work for the day). We also do some of our science and geography/history together and in the afternoons we do baking lessons, art or outings to other lessons. It sounds all good and mostly is but with late sleep ins and boys who don’t want to rush ( one would rather start the day with Lego ), it can get a bit stressful trying to get the core work done in the mornings. I wouldn’t be able to do this with my youngest but my older two I think would work better with the freedom. What do you think? Do you think 11 is too young or does it depend more on the child’s needs? One other question, have you ever tried block lessons where each day has a different focus, like do all the Math in one day or Art or Science. Sometimes I feel that snippets here and there on subjects aren’t providing enough depth.
    Wow, long reply, sorry!!
    Would love your thoughts on the above. Thank you.
    Many blessings.

    1. Hey, Fiona, I love it when you respond to my blog posts! I totally know what you mean about boys not wanting to feel rushed. (sigh)

      I think that the only way you’ll know if your boys are responsible enough for this method is to try it. Maybe try making them responsible for their work for an entire day, first. Then, depending on how well they do, you could increase that time until you’re finally giving them their lessons for an entire week. You don’t want to give them so much rope that they hang themselves. Give them just enough that they will be able to handle it responsibly.

      I know that some homeschoolers love block lessons where each day has a different focus. Again, I would say that you can give it a try and see how you and your boys like it. Sorry that I don’t have more definitive answers for you but there is no right or wrong way to do it. Run a few experiments of your own and see what happens. 🙂

      I’d love to hear back after you’ve tried it for awhile! Take care and I hope you have a wonderful week!

      1. Thank you Michelle. That is a good idea about trying it for a day or two first. Currently with the notebook system we have they can choose the order of what they want to do but I might try a day where we’re home all day and let them choose how and when they would like to complete their work throughout the day and see what happens. I think one of my twins especially might respond well to this. I can see that he needs more freedom and these are safe boundaries at home to allow the feeling of freedom and teach responsibility. He is the one who likes to sleep the latest too. I will let you know how it goes.
        Thanks Michelle and you have a great week too.

          1. Darlene Oliveira

            Fiona, at Michelle’s suggestion in a post last year, I began giving my guys alittle more leaway with their waking hour. I found that nothing motivates that late sleeper like seeing his brothers getting a head start. Also, if I make an effort to settle down earlier at night, they usually follow suit and then will wake earlier.

  4. Thanks Darlene, I appreciate your advice there. My Husband and I have had that same thought that if we settle earlier ourselves then they will too. Just hard to do when we want a little time to ourselves but the reminder is good and I think I will make more of an effort.
    Thank you

  5. We are on year 14 and this year I started a tween group (monthly) and a teen group (weekly) to keep this lively. It’s been a whole lot of work, but I am inspired to do BIG, dramatic and most of all FUN things for our group meet ups…which I’d got somewhat lazy about doing a while back. Our teens are so competitive, it ensures work gets done AND that there is extra investment from the young adults themselves on teen group days. x x x

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