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Making School Fun

Sneaking Up on Reluctant Learners

A mom of four boys ages 12 to 3 told us that her boys don't like to get their schoolwork done. She is bored with their curricula and wants to see the joy of learning return. The ideas below were posted on the HomeschoolChristian.com message boards.

Elizabeth: What subject's are they interested in? For example, my oldest child LOVES (is obsessed) with football. Take a break from traditional school and declare it football week. Have him make a notebook about football. He could make several pages on each team: how has the team evolved? Most have had several team names; what does the team name mean? Where does the team play? What are the colors in the uniform and are they significant? Have him read biographies on several Christian football players. Have him add quotes he thinks are neat from the players. How many games have they won, lost, what is their winning percentage? Explain what each position is and what they do: running back, defensive back, etc. How do you get to be a referee? How did the game even start? How has it changed? How has the protection each player wears changed? How does the protection work? Injuries are common. Keep a graph of how many knee injuries occurred this year, last year? What other types of injuries? What exactly is a tear of the ACL? Have him write to his favorite players or coaches. Why do tickets cost so much? Can the game be made more fan accessible?

I barely scratched the surface of a supposedly non academic subject that really can encompass math, science, history, writing, etc. They could take it anywhere. Ask them what subject they are passionate about and then spend a week just doing that. Then if you wanted to you could return to "normal" academics and then they could just add to their notebook in their free time or perhaps ask you if they can do their writing in that medium instead of a more boring alternative.

SoCalPam: You can try a unit study or just go with themes that supplement their regular work. I use these themes as motivation for my boys to get their regular work done so we can work on something together that's fun. We LOVED our "chocolate" unit study and had a great time going to different ethnic food stores hunting for chocolate snacks.

My younger son really likes bugs and disaster weather, so we have spent a lot of time studying the midwest (Tornado Alley) and creating insect habitats. I try hard to get the boys' interests involved in their studies so that it means something to them. My older son loves knights, so it was just one more step to equate the conquistadors to them, compare the armor, their missions (both spiritually related at times, oddly enough), etc. Then we started making a game of the conquistadors conquering of Mexico, including the many battles with the Aztecs.

A book we really like is Gizmos and Gadgets. It has all kinds of experiments you can do to discover inertia, and other scientific principles with things around the house. We made bottle "rockets" that propelled themselves around the pool, which was really fun.

It used to bug me that some of the things we did deviated from our textbooks. I really like our books and felt that we were getting further and further behind. But you know what? We're having a great time! The kids are learning through experience, which is my goal, and we are united as a family, which is my other goal. We do go back to the textbooks and check to make sure that we're moving along appropriately; we'll cover the "mammals" or whatever, and then interject our own lessons.

DebMc: I've learned over the years that I can't be fun or hands on in every subject every day. However, we try to have one subject be a little more 'spicy' and interesting while we plow through the others. It is a constant juggling act to keep everyone interested, involved and entertained. Don't wear yourself out trying to do it ALL. I've tried and it cannot be done!

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