Homeschooling Boys: 5 Things You Need to Know

IMG_4136Homeschooling boys is an adventure. I’ve been homeschooling my seven sons for 22 years and counting. There are some unique challenges that are part of the process. To be successful isn’t hard if you take these five things into consideration.

Little boys really can’t sit still.  Research has proven that from birth, boys are more active than girls. Baby boys kick and squirm more than baby girls. When they get a little older….little boys still kick and squirm more than little girls. Watch a six-year-old boy sitting at a table. Usually his legs are in constant motion and if you watch long enough you will see that his bottom doesn’t stay on the seat very well. One of my boys adopted the position that worked best for him when he was trying to do school work at a table. One leg under his bottom on the chair and the other hanging over the edge of the seat. Much of the time he was actually standing and not sitting at all. It was as close as he could come to sitting still. He was at least in contact with the chair most of the time. I found if we took frequent breaks, his wiggles calmed a bit.

Fine motor skills are in no hurry to develop.  Boys tend to develop fine motor skills slower that girls. This means that they are slower in figuring out how to make their pencils and scissors work. They’d much rather throw or pound on something. These actions take gross motor skills which develop much sooner.  They’d rather throw the pencil or tap it on the table than write with it. Give them hands-on activities and be patient with the handwriting lessons.

Boys tend to think in “things” and not words. Boys are more spatial than girls when it comes to language. Girls think in words where boys think in objects. Boys are much quicker to understand directions that involve a demonstration while girls can read or listen through a list of instructions and get it. Again, the hands-on activities will be much more effective with boys.

Boys’ attention spans are shorter. It seems boys much work harder to concentrate on what they are doing. Actually, boys brains have been proven to still be growing until nearly age 30. It just takes longer and more energy for all that growing. They need to change activities often in order to stay engaged.

Boys can be reluctant readers. While this is not true for all boys, many times it’s hard to get a boy to be a willing reader. They would rather do things with their hands. They aren’t so interested in words. They can’t sit still and focus for long periods of time. All the things we just talked about contribute to this problem. One thing you can do is read aloud to your boys. I still read aloud to my boys at times when there is something I believe we need to cover and I know it will be like pulling teeth to get them to read it on their own. Since my youngest is now in high school, we can experience some rich, deep discussion about something we’ve read together. That wouldn’t happen if I handed him the book and expected him to read it on his own.

If you are teaching both boys and girls you will want to take these things into consideration. That way you will be able to adapt your expectations to their developmental stages and strengths. And of course, it is also important to see each student as an individual and leave room for adjustments that take into consideration their unique strengths and weaknesses. Every student can excel at learning in a homeschool environment. It is a custom designed experience that will bring out the very best that they have in them.

additional resources:

http://www.education.com/reference/article/similarities-differences-boys-girls/

http://www.education.com/reference/article/brain-differences-boys-girls/

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov04/vol62/num03/With-Boys-and-Girls-in-Mind.aspx

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