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Homeschooling is a grand adventure and homeschooling boys can be especially fun or frustrating – depending on your perspective. As a homeschooling mother it’s vitally important to remember that boys are different as we learn how to work with the way they are wired! Thankfully, homeschooling allows us the flexibility to embrace this. So here are 4 things to keep in mind as you embark on this adventure.
1. They crave adventure, but they also want the facts.
Boys crave adventure. We have an opportunity to really inspire their imagination by drawing them into grand adventure stories, full of battles to fight and important things to do. We can introduce them to engaging biographies about ordinary people who stepped up in extraordinary situations. Reading aloud to our children provides opportunities to introduce our children to great literature that will inspire them to learn, grow, and make the world a better place. This can work with even our most reluctant readers enabling us to draw them into reading and inspiring them to go out and “be the hero” in their own lives.
Many boys have a love for non-fiction as well that correlates to things they are interested in. One of my boys has read every book on whales that our library owns. Another was interested in military aircraft. The key here is going with their interests and then setting aside time each day to read these kinds of books. When given the choice of reading for an hour after lunch or taking a nap, even the most reluctant reader will usually opt for that book!
2. They need to move and that’s ok.
Both boys and girls need to move. Movement is what actually wires the brain to learn. But some kids, boys especially, need to move more than others. Making time for physical exercise in the morning before you start your studies can be just what your sons need to get the blood pumping and their brains alert and ready to work! Taking frequent brain breaks throughout the day can be invaluable in keeping everyone sane and focused.
But more than anything, we can make whatever we are learning multi-sensory and movement rich by embracing the power of dramatization. It’s my secret to getting their whole bodies engaged in the learning process. So, when you learn about the Revolutionary War, you can head to the backyard to re-enact the battle of Lexington and Concord. When you study astronomy, you can get up and physically act out the moon revolving around the earth while the earth (child) spins and revolves around the sun – in a slightly elliptical orbit, of course.
And then when they hang upside down from the couch while you read aloud, you can remind yourself that this can be their way of focusing and not feel the pressure to make sure everyone is sitting perfectly still.
3. They need clear expectations.
I share a story in my book about a recent trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. With each exhibit we walked into, a look of wariness came over the security guards as they hovered nearby to make sure my curious kids did not touch anything. These boys who had goofed off as we attempted to load up in the car, were now walking with measured steps at the museum, notebooks in hand to sketch their favorite scenes. You would not believe the number of comments we received. “However did you manage to get your boys inside an art museum? How did you get them to remain calm?” The answer lies in my expectations.
I am all for letting boys run around like crazy hooligans in the backyard. They need to have the flexibility to burn off steam, to climb trees, to engage in imaginary battles. But these boisterous boys of mine also know how to conduct themselves with quiet respect in the library, at church, or even at the art museum.
Boys don’t usually read between the lines or catch those unspoken cues. We need to be clear with our expectations. When we do this, we find boys often rise to the expectations others place on them, whether low or high. Setting high expectations starts early when we expect all our children to contribute to the family by not only tidying their own room, but also doing chores that benefit the entire household. This gives our children a sense of belonging and the value of work. And continues as we prepare them walk confidently into new situation and learn to read their environment.
4. They need a challenge.
As I wrote in my book, Knights in Training, “Boys long to be the hero, not just because of the adventure and not just to prove their strength. No, boys want to make a difference in this world and to do so in the thrilling and action-packed way they were designed to do it “
We have an opportunity to issue them a challenge to be the best they can be. We remind them that their lives have purpose and meaning and that they have opportunities not just in the someday seasons of manhood, but in the everyday season of boyhood to make a difference in those around them, to apply themselves to the work of learning, so they will be prepared to walk out successfully in all they are meant to do.
When we love them fiercely and challenge them to be their very best, beautiful things happen during this magical season of boyhood! Buckle up and enjoy the ride!