10 Ways to Engage Active Boys when Homeschooling

Someone in one of the homeschooling groups I belong to sent out an e-mail yesterday looking for ideas for teaching active boys.   I was amazed at all the responses and ideas I got.

Having three young boys myself I could totally relate to her problem of trying to get them to sit, focus and write.  I mean, I'm complaining about the same things ALL the time!

Here are some suggestions for teaching active boys at home that I can't wait to try out (and a few of the favorites we do use).

1.  Phonics sound Baseball:  Before pitching the ball call out a letter, have them tell you the sound and then pitch the ball to them, let them hit it and run the bases.  (I bet this would work great with math facts too!) or if you don't have ball players have them ride their bikes.  As they ride one lap around the driveway they have to pay the toll to pass.  The "toll" can be anything that you are studying i.e. letter sounds, spelling words, math facts, science trivia, etc. After they give the correct answer they got to do one more lap.

2.  Use their favorite toys!  We have taped flash cards or sight words to the wall and blasted them with Nerf gun bullets.  We've frozen Lego men and Batman characters for some fun science experiments.  We've used an Indiana Jones whip to knock over cups with sight words or math facts written on them.

3.  Set a goal or timer:  Boys tend to be pretty goal oriented and letting them know that they only have to write for 10 minutes or do 2 worksheets for the day is a huge help.  My kids love to try and play beat the clock where they try to finish before the timer goes off.

4.  Use nature:  Practice writing in the sand or use sticks to make letters or words, etc.  We take hikes for science class and study the plants, animals and things we come across.  Even just using sidewalk chalk and doing work in our yard on a blanket seems to settle my boys down.  There's something about being outside that seems to help them focus much better and if they do get distracted it's usually something that leads to a whole different type of learning.

5.  My kids don't usually enjoy sitting down and reading stories to themselves since they'd rather be playing.  I read aloud to them a lot.  They can play with building blocks, coloring books, trucks, etc. as long as they are quietly listening they don't have to sit still.  We also listen to books on tape/ CD during snack/meal time or in the car where they're usually a more captive audience. Here are 25 activity ideas for kids that have a hard time sitting still while reading. 

6.  Go on a treasure hunt with written clues that they have to read and follow or answer questions to find the next clue.

7.  Another area we have a hard time focusing and sitting still for is writing.  We have moved onto oral storytelling most of the time.  We lay outside on blankets and they tell stories about the clouds they see in the sky.  They take turns storytelling as we hike through the woods.  They will tell me a story and have me write it down for them to illustrate and turn into a book to read over and over again.

8.  Water balloon bombs are great in the driveway for learning sight words, math facts, etc.  Just write what you want them to learn about in chalk and as they tell you the answer they get to erase it with a water balloon!  Great for summer retention.  (We've also done this with water guns and sight words & it was just as fun).

9.   Turn it into a game!  My kids love Musical sight words (or musical math facts), sight word hopscotch, Mother May I Math (mother may I take three steps forward?  No you may not you may take 2 x3 steps forward.. works well with addition, subtraction, and division too!).   I've seen people who write sight words or math facts onto each of the twister dots too and practice through game play.  You could also use twister for multiple choice questions-- Red is A, Yellow is B, Blue is C, and Green is D; then as you ask questions and give them a choice of answers you can watch where they're moving to and see if they are right.

10.  Try a new location-- read or do school work inside a fort, under the table, in a tent, in mom's bed, in the kids bed, outside on a blanket.  Sometimes you just need to shake up the routine a bit and then it's new and exciting. 

Hope that helps and please feel free to leave new suggestions.  We're always looking for new and fun ways to learn. 

*I'm sure there are boys out there who sit nice and quiet while doing their lessons just like I'm sure there are active little girls who have a hard time sitting still for school work.  I don't think these issues are gender related and I'm sure most of the ideas would work for boys as well as girls.


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