My student is bored. What do I do?
For many homeschoolers our goal is to teach our children in such a way that they have a love of learning, so it is very disheartening when we see that our student is bored. A bored student will be slow to participate, won’t give their best effort, will look for distractions and will be a distraction to others. At times it will seem like there is very little that we can do about that.
But – parents know that they must find a way to overcome this attitude because they know, if it is allowed to stay, their child will never reach their full potential.
We need to be careful, though, how we approach a bored child. Out of our desire for the best for our kids we can go over the top and just push them to do what we know is good stuff. But unless a child has a teachable heart – a teachable attitude – we will create more resistance instead of a pathway to potential.
Bored students needs to be reignited, not just given more work to do.
How a Student Becomes Bored
One of the most delightful things in young children is seeing their natural curiosity and how that drives them to learn so much in such a short time. Unfortunately, some of the resources and teaching techniques that we use to educate our young children (both in schools and in homeschools) squashes that curiosity out of our children and before we know it, they’ve lost their curiosity and they are bored.
Curiosity is the expression of something that interests us.
Curiosity makes us ask questions and look for answers.
How to Discourage Creativity in 3 Easy Steps
Here are three ways parents can discourage curiosity – even though they have the best intentions to deliver the best homeschooling education.
1. Start Too Early, Study Too Long
Our culture values productivity, and as such we see play as a relaxation or recreational activity – and yet for a child, it is the context for them to understand their world and who they are in it. Play can be with toys, out in nature, creative pursuits, sporting activities, with siblings and friends, or on their own. Play isn’t without boundaries: respect and responsibility always needs to be considered just as it is in adult life. When we give our young children book-driven lessons that take up their time and energy, we squash their ability to investigate, explore, engage with the world around them.
Play encourages curiosity.
2. Focus on Achievements, Not the Journey
Once again, our culture values academic success – which is only achieved by completing certain studies and by doing well on tests. When achieving academic success is our motivation it will squash curiosity – because curiosity cannot be contained in an exam. Curiosity will take our children here and there, down rabbit trails – they will ask questions and look for answers. This is valuable learning – and yet if we don’t value this discovery type learning we will squash it and focus on the book learning and test-driven activities.
Curiosity asks questions.
3. Stifle the Uniqueness of Each Child
Each of our children have unique ways of learning, as well as different interests. When all our study time is spent studying a prescribed set of lessons (having to learn certain things at certain ages) we don’t make the most of the natural curiosity that each child has – and therefore curiosity dies. Our children’s interests create a context for learning – they will ask questions, and find answers, they will test their theories and communicate their ideas to others. This is learning – this is curiosity driven learning that is consolidated because it is relevant to the child.
Curiosity will lead each child on their own path of learning.
How to Inspire Curiosity
I think the best thing to do when our kids are bored is to pause on the homeschooling/academic book-learning side of things and focus on life: to enjoy outings together, to enjoy the world around us, to enjoy books and creative projects based on the things they are interested in and the things that your family does as a family. When children have lost curiosity, we can give them all the lessons that we plan (even fun ones) and they still won’t learn anything so there is no benefit in pushing through their boredom with more lessons.
Your bored student needs their curiosity re-ignited. Their curiosity will be ignited as they engage with the world, without expectations.
Are you brave enough to set aside planned lessons so that you can:
1. Learn what interests your child
2. Give them time to dig into what interests them
3. Help them learn about the things that interest them
I know there are subjects that our children must learn – these are things that will enable them to do well in life. But does your child have to learn them right now? If they are bored, then certainly, now is not the time. Now is the time to reignite curiosity – an interest in the world around them. And then learning becomes fun.
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About the Author
Belinda Letchford writes at Live life with your Kids! where she encourages parents to build strong relationships, shape their children’s hearts and use the whole of life to teach character, wisdom and life skills. Peter and Belinda live in the north of Australia on a small farm, and though directive parenting is over for Belinda and Peter (now that their kids are adults) they still find it a joy to be available to their kids – helping them in their endeavors and talking about all sorts of things day in and day out.