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Part 2- What Do You Do With BOYS?

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The Boyer Blog: Part 2- What Do You Do With BOYS?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Part 2- What Do You Do With BOYS?

Homeschooling Boys

I started out my homeschooling adventure with 4 boys, before we had any girls. We ended up with 6 boys in all and 8 girls. As each child is different, so it goes with boys. My first born son was very self-motivated, loved to set his own goals and beat them and devoured books. My second son, however was very different. He was a hands-on learner and books didn't hold much interest just for him in the early years. He was too busy. He grew up to be an extremely competent, coordinated boy who could learn to do anything... from building to playing the piano.
I've had the quiet, compliant type; the extremely distractible but cheerful; the steady and playful type; the logical, thoughtful learner; as well as the struggling learner.

One of my sons would often start the "school day" with a griping attitude. I learned that just tickling him, playing around a bit helped to lighten his attitude and he was usually then ready to buckle down and get it done. Looking back, i think he was thinking of all the things he'd rather be doing than schoolwork.

My REALLY distractible son needed me to often sit near him and keep him on track. It ws so easy for him to think of anything but schoolwork. It's not that he even disliked it. He was just so distractible. No noise or conversation or interruption of any kind escaped him. I needed to be there and remind him what to focus on at the time. He had to be shown.

I also had one who would have been 'labeled' something in schools. He was brilliant, but just not on the timetable schools prescribe.

With all my children, I let them progress at their own rate in each subject, but this son just couldn't grasp reading. The skill of decoding sounds with all the exceptions in the English language caused him one day to say, "Maw, the guy who wrote the English language had a pencil in one hand and a jug in the other."! I read his history, science, and literature to him. He was very quick to learn everything but that one skill of decoding letters. When it finallly clicked he was about 14 years old, and from then on you would never know he had been "slow' to read. He actually then was able to read very complicated subject matter!

So- all that to say, each has been a different type of learner, but some things about teaching boys have been pretty consistent.

One thing is that boys have lots of energy, even the laid back one, like Tuck. Almost every day, my son Tuck, who is 16 now, will ask me if he can take a break to go outside and jump on the trampoline to wake himself and his brain up. IT WORKS! It is extremely hard for boys to sit still for long periods of time. They just function better if you break up their time with exercise. Even when they were very little, I would let them stop studies and play with play dough if it was raining outside. They would make cows with their molds and then proceed to "butcher" them with their plastic knives. They just needed to do something active. I remember them quoting their Scripture verses while sometimes standing on their heads or pacing around the room!

The activity helped them to think.

For preschoolers it is best to have maybe two or three 10 or 15 minute periods of book type study- broken up by active periods, than trying to do 20-30 minutes of concentrated book time.

Another thing about boys is their competitive spirit. I always tried to channel that into breaking their own time record or goal rather than letting them compare themselves to their siblings. They were each created so uniquely that some subjects came naturally to one that were a struggle for another. Therefore, comparing themselves to their siblings is like comparing apples to oranges. If one child has strengths in a certain area, he can cooperate by helping his brother in that area. Maybe his brother has another area he can help him in and to cooperate in finishing so they can both be free sooner to get on to the afternoon's pursuits- which in our family were those areas of interest each had at the time, maybe building bookcases or a bird house or grafting a tree, etc.

Boys need to learn to appreciate each other's strengths without feeling inferior, and forbear each other's weaknesses to carry out God's plan for each. They combine forces to accomplish special projects they have in mind to explore.

Boys also tend to be inquisitive. I think it's part of God's plan for man being the leader. They aren't afraid to set off in a new direction. I tried not to squelch this trait, but just direct it in safe boundaries. We want our boys to have a love of learning and exploring. They just need to be taught to have discretion as they do it. Our son Tim was so interested in how things worked. We gave him broken appliances such as blow dryers, tape recorders, curling irons, toasters, mixers, etc. when they broke. We figured if he could figure out to fix it, fine, if not, nothing is lost anyway. He amazingly often fixed them and soon had people from church bringing him their broken stuff to see if he could fix it as well.

Boys also need motivation for buckling down to learn. We would often have our sons, for handwriting, write to Senators, Congressman, letters to the editor, etc. Instead of fruitless exercises in writing, give them something important to write! We even had them write letters of gratefulness to folks who'd impacted their life, letters to a chamber of Commerce in a town we planned to visit to find out what historical sites were available, etc. Our boys wrote to the president and received responses. I remember our son Rick wrote to Ted Kennedy and shared with him the plan of salvation. Whatever you are teaching them, whether it be handwriting or math or science or history, let them know why it's important and why they need to spend time learning the skill of excellence in pursuing it. If you can't give them a reason, reevaluate and see if it really is worth their time expenditure after all!

Teach your sons to be question askers, not question answerers, as the government schools do . We need to raise thinkers, not responders. Real men think and lead and guide others down right paths. Let your son know that God had prepared him to be a leader.

More next week.....




Blogger Momma2FivePlus said...

Hi Rick and Marilyn. I see your family has increased as well as ours. You have a beautiful family. Don't you just love being grandparents?? We have 3 adorable little grandsons. Logan will be 4 yrs old in May., Carsen will be 3 in Sept., and little Ashton is 7 months old. I love them so much! Carsen's mommy & daddy lost a baby last July. That was really sad for all, but they are having another baby due on August 16. They are hoping for a girl. Me, I don't care. I love my 3 grandsons, and a 4th will be just as loved!! The kids have all grown so much. My youngest will be 23 this month. We are still foster parents and have 2 wonderful boys, a 17 yr old and a 7 yr old. We also have an 18 yr old who is out of foster care but has chosen to live with us. He is just like another son to us. Kenneth has some health problems, but is doing good. He is diabetic and also had a mini-stoke a couple years ago, which led to some tests that showed he has some heart problems. He is doing ok though, doing what the doctor orders. Well, take care and tell everyone hello for us!! Love, Barbara

March 12, 2010 at 12:18 AM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

I just wanted to let you know how desperately I need this series! Even though I only have one boy in the middle of two girls, my insights on his unique needs, as well as the additional struggles he has with focusing and health issues has found me a little exasperated at times on how to help him learn!

Thank you for sharing. I do have a question though. How were you able to "satisfy" the Virginia homeschool requirements from year to year when having a late reading bloomer? We have very similar laws in our state.

God bless and thank you again.

March 12, 2010 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Marilyn Boyer said...

We had to give our kids tests(Iowa Basic) for a number of years. However we filed religious exemption before Tuck was school aged. In VA, though, we also have a provision to give an evaluation rather than Iowa and I did that as well for a number of years. If you have any kind of provision like that, consider using that. I just assigned each child a grade in each subject and gave them a number grade for character qualities as well and it satisfied them. You need to show progress. I always gave as little information as I could. Because I was reading all his books to him, he was getting the knowledge, even doing grammar. It was just that skill of decoding letter sounds that had him stumped.
Hope that helps.

March 12, 2010 at 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This series has been very helpful. I have one son in the middle of two girls. He struggles with reading and spelling. I have to read nearly everything to him also. He is 12 now and I can see improvement in his reading but spelling is still a great challenge. The one thing that has encouraged me most about his reading is he reads the Bible pretty good. He says it is because he is so familiar with the words. But if I wrote those same words in a sentence on the board he wouldn't know them. It has been a challenge teaching him but also rewarding. I am so glad we have been blessed to homeschool. I know he would have never prospered in a public shcool setting. Thanks Dora

March 12, 2010 at 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rick and Marilyn,
I appreciate this series so much, and I like that you are selling the book RAISING REAL MEN. I was probably one of the first people to read that book, as I have 4 in a row boys and another baby (gender unknown) on the way.

Thank you for being such a transparent family. Your books and audios have been blessing our family for a few years now. I consider you to be dear friends even though we have never met.

I can't thank you enough for being such a light to our family. We are 1st generation homeschoolers.

God bless you and keep up the good work.


March 12, 2010 at 4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Marilyn,

This series is a blessing; I have printed out the articles and will keep them in my "Mommy Notebook".

You all are a precious gift to the body of Christ and we thank God in Christ for you and your help to all of us who desire to raise godly children.

Thank you and I look forward to reading your next article!

March 14, 2010 at 10:18 PM  
Anonymous Tracy in NC said...

Thank you so much for this series! I too grew up with only girls so my boys have been . . . eye-opening.
I'd really like to hear more abut how you dealt with your son who's learning timeline was a little different. I have a boy like that and don't know quite how much to help/push. I'm not really comfortable pushing too much but I also don't want to "do it for him". Could you speak to this some more some time? It would be most appreciated.
Thanks for all you and your family do for us.
Because of Him,
Tracy in NC

March 23, 2010 at 8:34 AM  

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