If there is one area I can claim experience and brag about results, it would be homeschooling boys. As a mom of only boys, boy-schooling has been my modus operandi for the past 20-some years, and where I’ve really earned my homeschool stripes. Though I have the privilege of working with both boys and girls in my classes and all of my work over the years, I could fill the pages of a book with strategies and tips about that have worked for the young gentlemen in our home.
Is there anything about homeschooling boys that makes it different from homeschooling girls?
Are there particular subjects boys prefer? Or methods of teaching/learning that seem to work best?
How do moms of boys manage to keep the house clean, the fridge full, and their sanity intact by the end of the day?
What are the secrets to getting active boys to complete lessons when all they want to do is throw rocks, play Mine Craft or build forts?
There is much to write about the differences between homeschooling boys and girls. But let’s get this disclaimer out of the way first:
Every child is unique. Not everything I say here applies to all homeschools and all boys. I know that. Please don’t write to me about blanket generalizations, stereotypes or discrimination. Some of my boys aren’t even always like this. Overall, however, there are known and documented similarities that many families notice when homeschooling boys. Those are the ones I’ll talk about here. Look for more articles tagged with boyschooling in the future, too.
1. Handing the loud, messy or sloppy.
We have all noticed groups of girls playing quietly during park days while groups of boys wield sticks nearby. It can be helpful to make mental notes of situations like this, and then modify schooling efforts to better meet the styles of boys. For example, putting several homeschooling boys together in one room may not always be the best idea; that is, if you demand quiet or independent work from them individually. Forgetting to teach or reinforce things like neatness and organization, and still expecting good results is not a good idea with boys, either. On the other hand, if cooperative work and interactive play is what you’re after, by all means, go for it. But knowing what boys tend to be like can be helpful when planning curriculum and activities.
2. Satisfying the need to “do stuff”.
Reading about things in books and watching things on television can be really good stuff. Many boys enjoy how-to and reference books for this very reason. But, experiments performed outside with mud and explosives? Now, you’re talking boy language. Hands-on science activities, reenacting historical events, active language exercises, and building projects from the ground up are all ways to satisfy the boy need to do stuff. Keeping this in mind when selecting curriculum materials or a homeschool methodology may come in handy if you have boys.
3. Problems with laziness?
Everyone is lazy from time to time. Despite stereotypes, I don’t believe that boys are more lazy than anyone else. This is actually reflective of something else. Notice when parents observe that boys are lazy about tying shoelaces and buttoning shirts, yet are then surprised when these same boys cannot find a pencil or remember where they left the math book. Encouraging good habits, such as putting things neatly away, and establishing a consistent routine (supervised as long as necessary) is the “cure” for such laziness. If a child, particularly a boy, displays these characteristics, this is merely a message that parental intervention is needed at that time. Not all children master such skills on their own.
4. Keeping them active.
There are many ways to keep boys active throughout the school day. Frequent movement breaks is one (e.g., stretching or running in place). Multiple physical activity sessions split up throughout the day is another. Incorporating movement throughout the teaching of academic subjects works, too. Examples like doing jumping jacks while reciting math facts, racing to write letters on poster board or a chalkboard, and reading aloud while bouncing on a chair or a couch work well for some children. Holding school outside or at remote locations (like a beach, park, or playground) are good ideas, too. If boys cannot sit too long, finding ways to incorporate movement throughout is the key to a pleasant, productive day.
5. Handling the hungries!
No child should be expected to work when very hungry. Sadly, this is a problem faced by public schools. Homeschoolers have the advantage of taking snack breaks any time throughout the day. Depending on schedules and/or rules in your home, hungry boys should be allowed to snack during lessons or as frequently in between as necessary. Working snack breaks into block schedule systems works well for this. Antsy or unpleasant children are sometimes just hungry children. Making healthy snacks available throughout the day, even before boys even realize they’re hungry, can make a big difference in behavior and performance. Any parent of boys understands the need to keep food on hand, particularly during growth spurts. Inadequate meal and snack schedules work against a boy’s natural urge for nutrients and calories, so this must be addressed during homeschooling.
Follow the boyschooling tag for more articles like this one.
Meanwhile, you might like: