When I began to teach Mr. Senior 2013 how to read, I had read that teaching homeschooled boys how to read was a lot more challenging than teaching girls. Guess what? It was true in my case but certainly way easier after I learned a few secrets, which I want to share with you today.
Too, sharing my experiences now after my second son is about to graduate, I feel my experiences that I may have shared early on in my homeschooling journey may have been a bit shallow.
When beginning to teach boys how to read, I needed more specifics and to not be told, “Oh well, they will just learn at their pace.”
While that statement is true, there are other specific things I did and did not do to nurture my boys’ love of reading.
Reading a lot about why boys lag behind girls, I understood early on that the learning environment I created could possibly be part of the problem.
In other words, the environment we create may cater to girls that love to sit still, color for hours and otherwise listen.
Of course girls can be wiggly too, but I am speaking generally there are differences in the genders that can be spotted early on.
I had to balance my need for an environment or school room that was organized with my boys’ need to learn out of the box.
The most important thing I had to let go of was thinking that because my boys had the need to move, learn hands-on and have a lot more physical activity that something was wrong with them.
Embrace a boy’s natural desire to get rough, move and be rowdy when teaching them to read.
I see that I had to let go of reading activities that required very little movement and include more creative tips for learning their letters and sounds.
Some boys learn well on a iPad, Kindle and leap pad, but again because of their need to move, physical activities have spanned the years as far as the best tips.
Look at some of these tips I did when letter burnout loomed overhead.
- Use balloons. Can’t say enough good things about them.
What is there about punching anything that makes a boy get interested?
Yes, it took some time to blow up the balloons, but I got a lot of mileage out of them.
I would write letters on them with a marker and they would have to hit them up in the air while saying the letter.
Then I used them for vowel sounds, or diphthongs and later on for recognizing numbers.
- Boys like hopscotch too. Either use chalk if you do this outside or use tape if you have to do this inside.
Tape off a section and use tape for the letters to go inside the hop scotch squares.
Too, I went and got discontinued carpet square samples and wrote on them with a permanent marker for sight words, letters or sounds.
- Giant Puzzles.
Just to sprawl out on the floor and move around to put together a giant puzzle that is related to what you are learning was something that two of my sons looked forward to.
- Empty plastic bottles equals endless games.
Again, anything that requires a crash and burn like throwing a ball or rolling a ball into empty plastic bottles marked with what I wanted my boys to learn was an all time favorite.
- Never, never forget the ball in a hole activity also.
I remember one cold winter in teaching Mr. Awesome to read that the kid just loved shooting hoops anytime.
I bought a new clean plastic trash can and lots of small balls that I labeled with sight words. As he shot the ball in the basket, the word “bam” always followed the sight word on the ball.
- Jumping off the couch, clapping their hands in the air and yelling the word.
Letting go of the no jumping off the couch rule when we schooled, Mr. Awesome thought this one of the most awesome things we ever did for the day.
It was like he was getting away with something when I let him jump off the couch, clap his hands in the air while saying the sight word I flashed at him.
Not every activity we did had to be so action packed but it always helped to sprinkle moving activities in with quiet time after sitting still.
No amount of worrying on my part could hurry the process of being ready for reading. Unless your son has a learning disability, it is normal for boys to read anywhere from between 5 to up to 9 years of age.
One of the biggest mistakes I made was focusing so much on how to read and not setting enough of an example of how to enjoy reading.
What you do not say is just as important. Quickly, I figured out that I wanted my boys to view reading as pleasurable and not a chore.
Do not fill your reading time with always laboring over letter recognition, sounds and sight words. Make that a part of your day, but also make part of your day reading something that your sons want read to them.
Boys do have a timetable to learn to read on and it normally is not in sync with girls.
Teaching reading is very similar to their developing into young man.
I have no control over the timetable of when my sons would have a deep voice, shave every day now and have broader shoulders but can only savor the moments of being a partner with my sons as they have grown to just not being avid readers but to young men who truly love reading for the sheer enjoyment of it.
What about you? What boy friendly activities work for you?
Also, look at these other tips. What Makes Reading Painful for Homeschooled Kids. Let Go of Busywork to Raise Lifelong Readers, Help! I Can’t Teach My Homeschooled Child How to Read – 5 Step Checklist and Teach Your Homeschooled Child How to Read in 20 Easy Lessons.
Hugs and love ya,