How to Motivate Young Boys to Learn

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Motivating young boys you’re in charge of to learn and try new things is challenging, but rewarding. For the parent or guardian, here are some suggestions to achieve this and have fun doing it.


  1. 1
    Teach. As an adult and a parent, you’re an educator. The things you love doing (art, craft, gardening, jogging, etc.) are often the very activities that will interest your children, partly because they see your passion and partly because, without realising, you probably give them more personal time and rewards when they do what you love doing. Believe in your ability to teach and this will flow through into motivating the youngsters.
  2. 2
    Provide boundaries. Routine suits young children because there is a “master plan” their life fits. Give them a chance to plan that routine, for example, a schedule for two weeks that plans for agreed blocks of time for sport, homework, friends, favourite TV shows, computer time. Provide regular “child time” as well, especially bedtime stories, making sure to read stories likely to interest boys. Having friends over might depend on successfully completing two blocks of homework.
  3. 3
    Provide a few instant rewards. Boys are often socialised to be doers, not talkers. But any extraordinary activity deserves immediate rewards, such as hitting the winning runs in a school or league game, making a speech to an audience, kissing a girl without scowling in the school play, and so forth. A box of his-only chocolates, a dinner out, or a hot dog and a walk on the beach can be great rewards to help him to learn that extraordinary results bring immediate rewards.
  4. 4
    Have theme days. For example, a Vikings theme day could include drawing Viking stuff, reading about vikings, using stories of Viking sailing to do some practical mathematics in a fun setting. An example question could be: “William used longships to transport horses to invade England, how many horses and men could a longship safely carry?”
  5. 5
    Hold a few regular events. Some events might even become parties (perhaps once a month). For example, Hero Days, where Junior gets to help make a costume. If you can’t sew, invite someone who can to come over and help out. Maybe you could learn too, demonstrating that you’re never too old to learn basic skills.
  6. 6
    Talk to your son. When shopping, avoid promising sweets or icecream; this is akin to blackmailing and results in making shopping a chore, not a learning experience. Shopping is a great life lesson at any age. Boys can learn to like it because it’s a “doing thing”. Younger children can be asked to identify colours and shapes; older children can learn to determine keen prices, while still older children might be given a short shopping list of five items and a budget; as an incentive, they get to keep the change after purchasing. It’s all mental math, of course, so their sums had better be good!
  7. 7
    Encourage your son to read. Make a deal with a quality book store that your son can choose any book he wants up to a set amount (say $25) once a month. Or, make the same amount go twice as far at a secondhand book store. Or, keep some book vouchers hidden to give as extraordinary rewards. Your son’s vocabulary will grow as his library grows and he’ll learn to love reading and books as well.
  8. 8
    Encourage some quiet time. Boys leading active lives may find that real life, school, friends, people and computers can rush and overstimulate their day. Encourage them to sit quietly, or sit and silently have a hot beverage together. Teach them how a little wind-down is as refreshing as a cold, damp face towel on a hot day.



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