As a general rule, the attention span of boys tends to be shorter than that of girls. Obviously, this varies with each child. Depending on personality, boys are usually downright full of energy and constant motion unless they are ill. It helps to understand that this is not abnormal, most of the time.
Even boys who have wonderful powers of focus still have a tendency to bounce, fiddle with objects, look around, and generally want to be on the move. Sadly, boys are often ‘diagnosed’ with ADHD when they are just being boys.
Fortunately, it is possible to promote a healthy environment for your boys which will be more conducive for learning, if you are homeschooling (or not) and can control some of these lifestyle choices.
[I share this important post by homeschool mom Michelle Caskey (with her permission) because we both want to encourage and inspire you as you raise your boys.]
Do you have a Wiggly Willie?
Consider these Lifestyle Choices which help to Increase the Attention Span of Boys:
Organize your day
A consistent routine is good for all children and especially for boys and/or those who might struggle with ADHD.
Turn off the TV
Keep TV watching and listening to the radio to a minimum. Children need quiet times without background noise in order to think, listen, and read to their full potential.
Consistent Bedtimes/Plenty of Sleep
Set an early bedtime, one which will allow your child to get plenty of sleep. If your child is getting 8 hours of sleep per night or less, they are NOT getting adequate rest at night.
Children need a surprising amount of sleep – probably more than you think! See the chart below to determine what time your son should be getting to bed each night for optimum performance.Jackie’s Note: here is a printable list of 30 ways to help your boys!
Make sure your child has a hearty breakfast and a multi-vitamin. Consider giving cod liver oil or fish oil for optimum integrated brain health. Having a well-balanced breakfast will help them to think more clearly and not get as tired during their studies.
See Brain Starvation: Could Boys Be Suffering? for specific, simple ways to correct it!
Provide consistent discipline for your children. Set a few clear rules and stick to them. If your sons are well disciplined during regular life, they will also be much better disciplined during school hours.
Note: Your son’s attention span should be at least 3-5 minutes long for each year of his age. So the typical kindergartner should be able to stay on task for at around 15 minutes.
When we are homeschooling boys, there are several things we can do to help increase the attention span of boys as well as their enjoyment of learning:
Take a break between topics and allow your boys to get up, stretch, run down the hall… even to run a few laps around the house.
Including some activities for boys such as these will allow them to release their pent up energy will go a long way towards helping them to stay focused while they study.
Change it up
Boys get easily bored with the same information or the same methods. If they understand a topic, move on. You can go back and review later to make sure that they fully grasp the information.
If you review over and over with boys they will become bored and their minds will disengage.
Also, try new techniques with boys. If you usually do math worksheets, try having them answer orally or on the computer. This will help them to remain interested and will certainly increase the attention span of boys.
Boys love to feel that they have at least some control over their studies. They need some autonomy: it is how they are wired as soon-to-be men. Give your sons several choices that you would be happy with and let them make some of the decisions. Or let them decide which subject they are going to tackle next.
When boys are given this kind of freedom, you will find yourself struggling with them less throughout the day.
The greatest motivator for boys is to teach them something that interests them.
Let your boys pick topics they have a passion for and then allow them to explore them fully. They can do this in addition to their regular studies or during breaks.
Their excitement for all of their studies will increase when they are allowed to pursue things they love, as well.
Give your boys objects that they can taste, touch, smell and see.
Boys learn well with tactile and kinesthetic learning; so, the more of their senses you can incorporate into activities for boys, the more understanding and enjoyment they will have for their lessons.
Ensure lots of opportunities for movement. Boys have lots of energy. If you allow them to expend this energy in accepted ways, they will be less likely to act out when it isn’t appropriate.
Rather than keep your boys confined to a desk, let your boys spread out at a table, on the floor, or on the couch. If boys are allowed to move around a bit while doing their book work or papers, you will find that they will get their work done more quickly and with less resistance.
If you’re finding it hard to hold and increase the attention span of your sons, try speaking in a silly voice or acting goofy as you are presenting the information. Injecting a little bit of unexpected humor into your presentations can really grab and hold the interest of boys.
Provide frequent talk breaks for your boys to minimize disruptions.
Boys have lots of questions – make sure you give them opportunities to ask these questions and to probe as deeply into a topic as they would like.
Use lots of visuals to maintain interest. Most boys learn visually, so seeing the information will make it easier for them to learn that just hearing the information.
Incorporate these tips into your school day and watch the attention span of boys in your house increase. With a little bit of creativity, homeschooling boys can be a rewarding experience for both you and your sons.
Update 10/18: A reader shared this effective tip: Jamie writes, “One of the things that really helped my boys ‘focus’ when I needed them to was to squat down to their eye level and touch them (a hand on the shoulder etc) before I spoke to them. It snaps them out of their crazy energy mode and helps them zoom in on you!” Plus it is great exercise to keep Mamas in shape 😉Jackie’s Note: here is a printable list of 30 ways to help your boys!
Hi, I’m Michelle. Being a mom to boys can be hard! Homeschooling boys can be even harder, but I’m here to tell you that having sons is a blessing – and it is possible to connect with them and to enjoy spending your days with them. My desire is that Homeschool-Your-Boys will be a place where parents can be inspired to teach their sons in an environment which will most engage their minds and their hearts.
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Thanks for reading!