Tips for Homeschooling Active Little Boys
As a long time homeschooling participant, I have learned a few tips for working with young boys who are made to move. To describe these boys in a nutshell, some might say that they can not sit still if their life depended on it. Even if made to sit still, they shake their arms and move their feet under the table. Some part of their body must always be moving! They are a ball of energy that never seems to quit. It can be frustrating and relentless to deal with their need to keep their bodies moving. Does that describe any little boys you have? If so, here are some tips for you.
As a side note, I have never worked with a girl who is this way, but some of you may know someone it applies to. If so, consider trying these tips to make your day at home and your homeschooling a little easier.
1. Look for opportunities to turn your homeschooling lessons in to games that require movement. For example, instead of circling the nouns and verbs on a worksheet have them jump in the air if they think the word is a noun and sit on the floor for verbs. Kids like this often want to associate thought with motion. They enjoy thinking on their feet more than just thinking.
2. Make sure they are getting plenty of physical exercise, especially outside. For Mamas, it can be hard to drag ourselves outside of the house with so much do be done inside. But it is key for some kids to really use their bodies every day. They need to play and play hard. Enrolling them in a sport can help too. When they have moved their bodies for 1-2 hours or more every day, they are often much calmer back in the homeschooling classroom.
3. At the homeschooling table, work for 45 minutes and take a break for 15 minutes. It is easy to get carried away "while they are still" and want to keep pushing their school work. But studies from Finland have shown that it is actually better for the brain and body to get up and move around in the classroom every 45 minutes for 15 minutes. If you offer the "get up and move" break to your child before they demand it, it will make for a better long-term homeschool relationship.
4. It's ok to them stand at the table and work. Oftentimes boys of this type will end up standing at the table working and not even realize it. As long as they don't realize they have slipped out of their chair because they are concentrating on their schoolwork, let them stand. If they are fidgeting too much, try asking for 10 jumping jacks and make it fun. In fact you could consider doing the jumping jacks with them! Exercise is good for all of us.
5. Look for times when they are able to be still: first thing in the morning and after dinner are key times. If you can spend some time observing your child's behavior, you might begin to notice at certain times of day when they do sit down with you or want you to sit with them. This could be time when they are asking for you to read book or to watch TV or play video game. Try to find a cycle in the "highs" and "lows" of their physical activity. Oftentimes kids of this type do their school work best if you can start them first thing in the morning before their engines get going too fast. But this will require that you are ready to sit with them and focus on their school work by 7-8am which could require you to get up earlier too. If this doesn't work for you, look again for them to get still again after supper before bed. This is often a great time to sit and read together because the sleepiness they are feeling will help them to sit still and maybe even snuggle.
6. Other tips might be to make sure they are getting enough sleep and not too many dietary stimulants such as caffeine.
Have patience, Mama. I have seen these little boys who can't stop moving grow up to be teenagers who sleep in and are perfectly normal in their activity levels. This age of constant movement will pass, but until it does, look for the good in it. They are healthy and strong and that is a gift. We know they must also do their school work in homeschool, but do not despair. They are often learning more than it seems. Keep plugging away while you admire their boundless energy and maybe even wish you had some. It's a part of their childhood that will likely be finished all too soon.