Mythbuster: It’s Too Hard to Homeschool Tween and Teen Boys
“Could you talk about homeschooling boys? My son is driving me crazy! And you have six…” Back when we were on the board of our state homeschool organization, we heard that a lot from support group leaders. It’s how we got started speaking and writing about boys and it’s still something we hear all the time.
“Once boys hit puberty, they just won’t listen to their moms.”
“My son won’t sit still. He can’t focus. He’s impossible to teach!”
“All I get is pushback. He doesn’t ever want to do any school.”
Why do people think homeschooling boys is so hard? Well, it is challenging. Boys are active. They struggle to sit still. Their fine motor skills develop later, so writing is difficult. Their academic development in general has more variation than girls. Some are early birds, others are late bloomers. They just aren’t motivated by the same things their moms and sisters are, either. And then the hormones hit!
Those same things that make you want to give up on your boys, though, are the things that make homeschooling so good for them. A classroom environment just doesn’t handle the need to get up and move around, variation in skill level, and being motivated by real life very well at all.
When the hormones hit that will change our boys into men, it’s hard to remember those things. They get angry for no reason. They can’t concentrate for even a few minutes. They can’t remember what we tell them to do long enough to get out of the room! They feel like failures and so do we.
When people tell us that they’ll do better if we just put them in school and let someone else teach them, it’s easy to believe it. It’s easy to think that will solve all our problems, but it’s not true. It’s not true because that doesn’t address the really important issue — our relationship with them.
Listen. Many parent-child relationships are broken during the tween years and when they are, the teen years get worse and worse. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you can get through those years with your relationship intact, the teens tend to get better and better.
Homeschooling gives you a chance to protect your relationship. It gives you time. It leaves you in charge. It keeps peers in the right place. It’s worth it. It’s also doable. You just need a plan to manage school in the stormy sea of hormones.
Preserve the love of learning. People tell us all the time that their sons are unmotivated and uninterested in life. A boy like that won’t make much progress in school or out of it. How do you keep him interested in learning, though?
- Incorporate his obsessions. They love learning about their passions at this age. Use those things for writing prompts and reading material.
- Worry less about getting the worksheets done and more about reading real books and doing real things.
- Give them interesting things to do other than gaming or watching movies. Things like these craft kits.
- Do field trips and get out in the world. Start micro-businesses. Do life.
Protect academic confidence. Boys have a huge intellectual growth spurt in high school. A boy that seems destined to flip hamburgers at 14 will be getting academic scholarship offers at 18 … if he tries. Sadly, many boys struggle so much in the middle school years they just figure that they’re not cut out for academics, so they give up trying. What can you do?
- Don’t compare them with other kids and especially not their siblings.
- Encourage them that school will get easier. It’s hard to feel like things will never get better. Give them hope.
- Praise them whenever you can. Look for things to praise, even if it’s just hard work.
- Feed their strengths. It’s easy to focus on what they’re struggling in, but encourage and support their talents, too.
Get the work done. Yeah, I know, easier said than done. Math takes three hours and nothing else even gets done some days. We’re going through that with our eighth child now. It’s not much fun. You can both get through this, though.
- Get rid of distractions. Music helps, sometimes.
- Supervise them more. Even an independent learner might need some encouragement to focus.
- Work with them. Sometimes you need to just pull them over and handhold them through it.
- Use challenges, competition, and incentives.
You can do this! There’s too much at stake not to. It’s not too hard to homeschool tween and teen boys. It’s hard, but not nearly as hard as what can happen if you don’t.
We’ve graduated four of our son and they’ve not only done well in life, but they’re our best friends. That’s worth way more than any trouble they were.
Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys, Christian Small Publishers Book of the Year, will help you understand how boys are different and how that impacts your homeschooling and parenting.
No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope, our newest book, will walk you through the challenging preteen years and help you lay a foundation to make the teen years great!
Read the other posts in this series here!
Hal & Melanie