10 Things I’ve Learned About Homeschooling Boys

This has been my second year homeschooling boys and while I still feel like a newbie I have learned a few things over the last 24 months that I’d like to share with you.

10 Things I've Learned from #Homeschooling Boys | LaToyaEdwards.net

10 Things I’ve Learned About Homeschooling Boys

1. I am not a good boy.

My boys have started telling me this on a daily basis. It’s usually when they are wrapped up in some serious boy action and pretend play. Most of the time I’m not invited into their inner circle. The other day my boys were deep into military battle plans and Bubba asked me if I would come play with them. I think I lasted about 5 minutes before I was told that I wasn’t doing it right and I could go back to cleaning the kitchen. I don’t take it personally because they are right. I can read all the parenting books on raising boys but that won’t make me a good boy.  That said my little guys to tell me all the time that I’m the best mommy ever, I’d take that over being a good boy anyday!

2. It’s not a good idea to let your boys watch “The Chronicles of Narnia” for breakfast.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a morning person. My boys rise before the sun usually somewhere between 5:45 and 6:30.  Usually the boys play {not so} quietly in their rooms until I drag myself out of bed to fix breakfast. Last week they asked to watch Narnia while I fixed breakfast and I agreed. Once the movie and breakfast were over I tried to get our lessons started but soon gave up. My boys were too busy fighting the White Witch to pay me any attention. I highly recommended some great “boy approved” read alouds  and books about adventure for them to read on their own, just be sure to read after lessons are done.

3. They really do learn better while in motion.

Bubba is constantly moving all day long and during school time it’s the same.  I spent much of last year trying {in vain} to get my little boy to sit still and get his work done. This year I realized that we got a lot more work done when I just left him alone. Yes it drives me crazy to watch him drum on the table, kick the seat next to him and hum a song while working on his math assignment. But I’m learning that it’s not always about works for me.

Snag a copy of Brain Breaks for only $7.99 (a great resource for helping your boys focus on schoolwork and move with a purpose. They are great for moms too)

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

4. Learning can still happen in the rumpus.

Boys are just loud, dirty and messy creatures! There’s no way around that.  That doesn’t mean that they aren’t learning at the same time. I have watched my boys make the biggest mess I’ve ever seen but still be learning some important lessons.  One day I took a few minutes to take in the scenery and I noticed some sorting and classification going on with blocks, re-enactments of Bible stories and discussions about character development between two soldiers on the battlefield.

5. Put those swords and guns to use.

I’m sure that you have some weapons somewhere in your house if you have boys. Take those toys and include them in your lessons. My boys have had lots of fun shooting sight words with nerf guns, slashing numbers by 5s and 10s, and shooting arrows at their spelling words.  It’s a perfect way to combine #3 and #4.

My favorite place to get weapons and all things boy is JM Cremp’s Adventure Store for Boys. Check them out they have lots of awesome stuff:

6. It’s important to get outside.

I could stay inside for days on end, but my boys have to get out at least once a day.  One thing that I’ve started doing is taking school outside a few times a month. Go for a nature walk. Pack up your art supplies and be inspired by nature. Take bikes, skates, or scooters and let your boys ride off some of that extra energy. Don’t forget the helmets!

7. Embrace the competition.

My boys love to compete over anything: who eats the fastest, who can get the dirtiest, who has the most bug bites, etc. I’ve learned that this is just a part of what makes them male so I’m learning to embrace it. I don’t let my boys compete against each other but I do encourage them to compete against themselves and the clock. When I see Bubba dwaddling with an assignment I’ll time him and challenge him to see how quickly he can finish.

8. It’s ok to get messy.

I’m a bit of a neat freak so I don’t really like big messes. My boys LOVE to make a mess and I’m learning that I need to indulge them from time to time.  Science experiments are a great way to have some messy fun. My boys had a lot of fun erupting our volcano in the backyard {when we had one}.  Finger painting brings about an hour of fun for us as well. And when I’m feeling really crazy I let my boys play in the rain and/or mud. Sensory bins are also a great way to make a mess, have fun and work on some important motor skills.

9. It’s important to let them have a say in your lessons.

Boys like to feel in charge of the world.  God created them to be spiritual leaders one day and I try to find ways to let my boys take charge in our homeschool. It doesn’t have to be anything big. I let Bubba decide what he wanted to study for science this year. He was so excited to learn about the universe this year and he was proud that he made the choice himself. I also let my boys decide on read alouds and field trips throughout the year.

10. Sometimes I need to just lighten up.

This is probably the best lesson I’ve learned over the last 2 years. I need to let go of what I think the “perfect” homeschool looks like and embrace the reality of our homeschool. My boys are my boys and I love them exactly the way they are.

For more tips on homeschooling boys check out my list of must have items for my Boyschooling Survival Kit.

Must have items for homeschooling boys | LaToyaEdwards.net

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48 thoughts on “10 Things I’ve Learned About Homeschooling Boys

  1. Diana

    I love this, I have 4 boys, we home-school as well, so I agree with much of what you said here. It’s amazing how schooling them teaches us. :-)

  2. Linda Tang

    What a fun read! Although I don’t homeschool my two girls, I love the concept of integrating a child’s needs and using their natural environment and personalities into how they are learning as you have done with your two boys. . I am attending my first Christian home school conference next month and can’t wait to hear more about incorporating real life into a child’s love for learning and how they can best learn. You may not be a good boy, LaToya, but you’re an intuitive, great mom!

  3. Linda Tang

    What a great read, LaToya! I love reading about how you integrate your children’s personalities and needs into their school day in such a natural way that can only maximize their learning while preserving who they are at their core. While I have two girls whom I don’t homeschool, I am looking forward to attending my first homeschool conference next month and learning more. You may not be a good boy, but you are an intuitive and good mom!

    1. Candace

      Love it! I homeschooled my son and most of these are lessons are ones I learned as well. For a while I also homeschool a pre-school nephew (my brother’s son whose mother had died of cancer) as well. And when my other nephew got home from public school, I included him in the lessons. We did a lot of sword fighting lessons. My son even got to take a class in fencing when the local park district decided to offer lessons to the growing number of homeschoolers. (Two of the boys he took the class went on to be among the top fencers in their age group in the country!!!) I taught my son Math by letting him play with his Legos while I read the problems to him. That worked a whole lot better then having him whine and cry because he had to sit still. My son now has a BA in Math! We did lots of field trips and I encouraged my son to ask lots of questions at the museums and parks we visited. Yes, boys can be a challenge to teach but one of the benefits of homeschooling is that you can toss out what doesn’t work and just use what does… like fencing and Legos.

  4. Mothering From Scratch

    {Melinda} I don’t homeschool, but I still love these tips and I think they can apply whether we are homeschooling or not. Our kids are learning all the time and sometimes we have to follow their lead. Great post, LaToya.

  5. Tina

    Great points made. I have 3 boys and am just starting the homsechool journey. I think I am a little like you. I would rather be inside and I dislike mess, but it seems my life is spent outside and mess is everywhere… What fun!

  6. Tara

    Latoya, thank you so much for this post, very encouraging. I love the visual and physical learning idea, Rory falls in to that category. Have a blessed day. Tara.

  7. Rachel Jeter

    Oh my goodness I loved every word you said here!! I’m homeschooling for the first year with 3 boys, and there has just been times I thought I have FAILED!! I’ve heard it takes 2 yrs to figure if you need to keep doing it!! I love everything you just said!! It is so right!! or it is for me any way!! I need to read all of your blogs, it’s been a relief to read!! thank you so much!! Figured the outside doing school, and also using the weapons for school learning too!! lol that almost sounds wrong!! AWESOME blog!!

  8. Rachel Jeter

    Oh my goodness I loved every word you said here!! I’m homeschooling for the first year with 3 boys, and there has just been times I thought I have FAILED!! I’ve heard it takes 2 yrs to figure if you need to keep doing it!! I love everything you just said!! It is so right.

  9. Chelsey

    Seriously spot on! Having five boys myself an homeschooled the oldest for 12 years now… Every one of these is so true!! This is a great reminder for those throw up my hands in frustration days!

  10. Annabel

    I have definitely learned the importance of #6 with my son. We take regular breaks in our homeschool day for outdoor play. Great list! :)

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  15. jennifer

    Love this list. I am homeschooling a 7 year old boy and I just realized recently to just let him decide and let him move and have fun with it. Struggled for a few months and now everything is going smoothly. Plus, I had to learn that a messy house was ok.

  16. Michelle

    Love this! I’m in my first year old homeschooling our oldest boy (we have two boys and a girl) and it’s a learning experience for us both! I worried I was doing him a disservice by allowing him to be in motion all the time and not teaching him to “sit still” — but you’ve just reminded me that it’s that flexibility and allowing him to be a BOY that pushed us to choose homeschooling in the first place!

    Blessings to you and your family!

  17. Judi Hughes

    An article I recently read regarding different learning styles remarked that kinesthetic learners will often drum when thinking. My son would drum incessantly while doing homework. During his 3rd grade Parent-Teacher conference, his teacher asked how long Joe had been taking drum lessons, and where. He was dead serious. Now in 8th grade, we started homeschooling, at his request, because he stated, “too much time was being wasted getting kids to settle down.” Of course this request was made 2 weeks before school started! Our school day starts when it starts, ends when it ends, and breaks when we need to. He spends 12 hours a month volunteering at our community food pantry, with other home educated children. He learns by doing, field trips are frequent and plentiful, and “lessons” are “snuck in” during conversation, reading time and generally living life to the fullest! He menu plans, inventories food supplies, creates shopping lists, prepares meals and refers to the kitchen as his. And he is loud, messy, loud, rambunctious, loud, but ACTIVELY learning. I am thankful for the Internet, and his natural curiosity, and how “research” can lead to statements like, ” Mom, how did you sneak that in on me!” It is inculcating in him a love for learning, not clock watching, wondering how much longer the school day is. Current event leads to discussions that may end far afield from the original topic, and we can spend more that 42 minutes on a subject. All the while he is drumming, roughhousing with the dogs, being loud (had I mentioned that before.) and in general, being a boy. I am so THANKFUL that we are home learning, that he is developing into a person I not only deeply love, but truly LIKE, he has the opportunity to be a boy, and that I stopped fighting what is his nature. He will be a wonderful husband and father someday!

  18. Jennifer B.

    Great post! I have three boys and I have definitely had to adjust my ideas of what I thought school should look like to fit their needs. I loved what you said about finding ways to let them take charge. They do love practicing their leadership skills! :)

  19. joanne

    I too an in my second year of homeschooling and I have three boys– I feel like I could have written this blog! So true!! I love the idea of using the weapons in school; can’t believe I haven’t thought of that one!

  20. Kat Reader

    So well stated LaToya! I have 3 boys (a 13-year old and 7-year old twins) and have been homeschooling since 2007. As a seasoned homeschooler of boys, you’d think I’d have your list nailed by now. Yet, it definitely served as a gentle reminder that they ARE boys, designed differently for a purpose. My youngest twin is a HUGE “Wiggly Willy” … bookmarking your article/site for days like today when I need to hear this message to get through the day! ;-)

  21. Cathy

    Yes! I homeschooled for over 20 years – 2 boys and 2 girls. I love your list! I am now watching my oldest daughter homeschool her 2 boys and soon, her daughter too. She is awesome and is experiencing these things too! Great wisdom!

  22. sajmom

    Mom of three boys (and two girls) and I’ll echo what most have said: these are things that it takes a bit to figure out, and even after you figure it out you still need reminders! The boys definitely need more movement and to mix things up more. I have to watch that I don’t do too much talking to them (reading books, reading lessons, etc.) because they need to learn in a more active way. Hard to explain, because reading and teaching are good things, but they just have to have things mixed up a bit more. Like using their little arm men to help illustrate a history lesson-which also often leads to them incorporating the lesson into their own play later!!
    Also I’ll offer a tip I’ve learned. On rowdier days when I need them to calm down and focus I’ll put on a lengthy classical music video on you tube. The quiet music does seem to help them focus better and brings the noise and activity level down a bit. Thanks for this reminder post!

  23. Elaine

    Thank you! This post is SOOO helpful (and the other one about letting go of what you imagined homeschool to be like, and just rolling with it)! i just started homeschooling my son 3 weeks ago, and I’ve really struggled with my idea of how it should be (do your work, quietly, at a desk, get it done, then have fun), and what my son needs and wants (music playing, lying on the floor, lots of breaks, picking his own material). I’m still trying to figure this out, since it’s all so new to me. I’m thinking tomorrow, I’m going to play music (which sometimes I’ve allowed him, and for some reason, I keep stopping it), maybe i’ll drop our current science curriculum in favor him choosing his own science topics, and having active brain breaks. He often asks me to ‘sword fight’ with him, and i’m going to indulge him! I need to really loosen up! it’s hard though….

  24. Erin

    Loved this! I homeschool two boys and this article was quite encouraging to me! My oldest cannot sit still and I keep trying to be okay with the banging and kicking and movement too. He always surprised me by answering my questions correctly, so I know he is actually paying attention. I think my biggest hurtle is being okay with the doodles and scribbling he does all over his work while he’s thinking. I’m a neat freak and prefer to have things clean and organized but my son “decorates” to think ;)

  25. Shell

    Great post! I homeschooled my daughter til 5th grade but haven’t been brave enough to hs the boys. They have been begging for next year and this makes me feel so much better!

  26. Melissa

    After reading your ideas, and your “survival kit”, it gave me an idea for my 3rd Grade son. This is our 1st year and I have a hard time deviating from my lesson plans, so ‘extra’ fun tends to loose out more than I want. Today, I let him shoot his dart gun for every 5 correct answers. BUT then it grew, he had to divide 5 by the number of correct answers to figure how many darts he could shoot. THEN, it grew some more because he wanted to shoot at a ‘points bulls-eye’ and add up all of his points for the day. I never would have thought it would turn into a practical math lesson! (It didn’t seem to take the fun out it either…if that happens, I’ll just let him shoot).

  27. Missy @ Dot-to-Dot Connections

    This is a great post! Thank you for sharing! I have one boy, and two girls who sometimes act like boys ;) I have found all of these to be very true! Although I have to admit I never thought of letting him use the elastic band guns for shooting sight words and such things… I might have to do that this week! Thanks for the great idea!

  28. Janeen Herlugson

    Hi! love your post. I have 4 boys that I homeschool and I have 1 boy that constantly tests me, on a daily basis! He is a ball of energy and I read somewhere that with kids like these, have them sit on an exercise ball when doing school work. I haven’t tried it yet but it’s on my list of things to buy. It is supposed to allow them to move around while staying in one place. Movement helps my son concentrate. After I learned this about him and stopped fighting the constant motion, our lives became so much easier.

  29. Amanda

    Love these! I have two boys right now and we plan on homeschooling them when the time comes. These are all great to keep in mind even now as they are growing and learning their way out of toddlerhood. Thank you!

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