Homeschooling little boys...delightfully :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

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I've been meaning to write this post for a fair while now.  It's no co-incidence that I chose to write about teaching little boys while contributing to the blog hop under delight directed teaching.  I have taught 3 little boys all with different personalities & learning styles.  Some enjoy their school work more than others, some learn faster than others, but the one common thing I've found is that if you can make the work fun, it goes so much easier for both the teacher & student!  If you can harness their delight, you will find your day goes that much smoother.

I know that this isn't the general definition of delight - directed teaching.  I believe that refers to teaching about the topics that the child finds of interest at that particular time.  Of course this makes it so much easier for everyone who is learning, but what about those other times when the child just isn't going to ask to learn about a topic?  I don't know about you, but my children are not the type to sit down & ask to learn their phonograms or numbers.  I'm fairly sure that if I didn't push them to do it, they would happily spend every waking moment outside playing & building & designing & generally doing little boy business & not worry about their inability to fulfil the requirements set upon us by our education system (or even just their parents).  

Well since I do want my boys to not only fulfil those requirements, but I want them to be able to enjoy reading & writing & calculus & physics & be able to know the 'why' behind their designs  so they can make them even better, I had to find a way to harness their energy & attention so they would learn these more mundane basics that will lead to a more delightful & fulfilling future for them (let's face it, they would have very limited options without the abilities of reading, writing & calculating proficiently)

To really be able to teach little boys, you need to be able to make delightful the uninspiring.  Too add an element of fun to something that they would otherwise see as mundane.  To bring brightness to a dull subject.  A large part of teaching during those first years is lasooing  their interest with sparkle & mystic.  Making them want to push on further & pursue the topic until they have grasped it & then we can celebrate ( usually noisily with lots of jumping, hugs & kisses in this house!!).

I have found the following useful in making the work more interesting to my little boys ( & girl as well :):

...lots & lots of stories.  I am guilty of being quite the storyteller ( can you guess from this blog).  Sure I won't woo a group of adults with my stories ( that would mean overcoming my crippling shyness which I can't seem to do), but in the comfort of my home, I love to tell my children stories.  Don't ever be afraid that your children will think your stories boring or silly.  Don't be afraid to make up characters & ideas & increase proportions until you have "wahoozingas the size of mountains" that they can climb on  & be transported to other fairytale places with "little mushrooms that make you as strong as a knight & as brave as a lion" ~ well you get the idea!   Little boys always love to have some kind of problem or opponent to overcome in their stories ~ little girls on the other hand love to have relationships in their stories.  Weave a tale with both & you will have the whole room mesmerized (even those older ones who are meant to be completing their maths at that time).  
So how does this look practically for us ~ when I taught my boys a phonogram,  I always made up a story off the top of my head (I never quite knew where the story would end when I began, but got lost in the telling) & used as many words with that phonogram as possible eg.  for OA we had a bOAt, mOAt, gOAt, lOAd, tOAd, grOAn etc.  you get the idea!  Oh & my boys always had no trouble at all sitting still during the story time!  

Little boys were made to be outside.  Nothing makes me sadder than seeing houses without any yard.  How are little boys ( or girls for that matter?) meant to play when they have no where to run & jump & get dirty & learn & experiment & climb trees?  I am sure their parents are wise enough to utilise local parks & sports fields!  After our phonogram lesson ( with story), we would always go outside to practice writing (no, not with their books ~ do you know how dirty boys can get their school books in about 1.7 microseconds??).  Sometimes I'd pull out the sidewalk chalk.  Often we would get sticks & write in the dirt.  Sometimes we would try to make the BIGGEST 'A' ever!!! ( that was a hit).  Sometimes they would make the letter out of rocks.  Writing on trees, making your own 'paint' to create with.  It doesn't matter what you choose to do, for some reason taking little boys outside makes it so much more fun!

Although there is definitely a time & a place for a little boy to learn to sit still & listen ( such as in church where we expect our children to), if you really want effective learning times, keep the lessons to about 20 mins maximum & don't drone on & on ( after all,  we even find that kind of learning boring as adults ~ anyone else fall asleep in lectures at university??).  Try & keep the lesson short & then go onto something else.  Revisit the topic again later if you still need more time, but don't expect to be able to capture a 5 year old's attention for an hour on a page of numbers (or a 10 year olds for that matter :).

If the teacher obviously finds the topic boring there is no way that the student will find it any other way.  OK so what if you do find it boring ~ FAKE IT!!!  Yes, I said it.  Pretend it is the most interesting thing you have come across.  Love that when Mr 5 & Mrs 5 multiply they end up with 25 children (my kids are farm kids ~ nuff said)!  Love that E= MCsquared! As Michelle Duggar once said " Fake it til you make it".

 To properly learn a topic, sometimes it does require the child sitting down & completing a page of problems.  To make this more fun ( & trust me, they get the work done so much quicker) make up a hypothetical situation.  For example, last week one of my boys needed to do a maths page of numbers & thankfully they were on pictures of money bags so I told them that the people at the bank had counted all the money, but some of the numbers had come off & he had to help them by finding what the missing numbers were.  I know it sounds silly, but it worked ~ he completed that sheet in about 3 minutes flat!!

 One of the best things about homeschooling is that we are able to be there for our children's academic achievements.  Celebrate them!  Have a special chocolate or biscuit when they get everything write on their spelling!  Jump up & down when they can count to 100 without prompting ( or even 20)!  Let them call Daddy or Grandma when they can read a book by themselves  Hug & kiss & cheer & celebrate those little moments.  Encouragement is one of the greatest motivators for your students.  Don't forget the older ones as well ~ sure they mightn't be as excited over a mother jumping & squealing (although secretly they may well be), but a head massage or a special dessert may be a fun way of celebrating.  Oh & don't forget to include everyone in the celebrations ~ accolades from the whole family make the hard task of learning new skills worthwhile!!

Teaching little boys is fun.  I have been so blessed to have 3 of them & I really do delight in teaching them.  There are days which are more difficult and days which are easy, but I thank the Lord for them each & every day.  
I would love your ideas of how to make learning fun for little boys!

Have a wonderful week friends

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