Homeschooling Notes

The following notes may be edited from time to time, based on what I learn from other homeschooling communities and groups and families, as well as from our own personal experience.  I am only covering the very basic introduction to homeschooling so if you want more information, the internet is only a click away.  Just remember, different homes use different homeschool philosophies and every child have different learning styles.



Our Goals (Why we are Homeschooling):

1. love of learning

2. to discover their calling – whatever it may be

3. show ability and willingness to make decisions/ self-confidence

4. be well-rounded learners

5. pursue opportunities readily available to them

6. have a flexible learning style

7. academic excellence and competency

8. leadership skills

9. communication and language skills

10. character development

11. using good judgment/ common sense

12. develop integrity

13. to have positive personal relationships/ interpersonal skills

14. develop solid work habits

15. solid family relationship



Reasons: (by Debra Bell)

1. Homeschooling maximizes parental influence and lengthens the window of opportunity. It also gives us the greatest control over who else will influence our kids and shape their beliefs.

2. Homeschooling gives us the potential to stay on top of the condition of our child’s heart daily. Character first.

3. Homeschooling gives you the opportunity to start your studies in every subject at the level of your child’s success without labeling him “delayed” or “accelerated” as if there were a scientific standard we are measuring his progress against.

4. Homeschooling gives you the opportunity to study something when your child is motivated to learn about it.

5. Home education allows you to change immediately to better methods and materials. If what you’re doing isn’t working, stop and adjust.

6. No other option offers you the opportunity to customize your child’s education to fit her readiness, interests and abilities. Modifications are easy. Feedback is immediate. Results: Kid reaches her maximum potential. Kid loves to learn.

7. Homeschooling allows time for full exploration and mastery of the material. It’s not once over lightly and quickly forgotten. When kids rush through material, it is lost.

8. Homeschooling affords you the time you need to set and achieve high academic standards. No grading on a curve necessary. Set an objective standard and measure your child’s success against that.

9. Homeschooling also affords the opportunity to involve your kids with material and activities that are relevant and applicable to real life. Parents have full control of the content; we can use that advantage to our kids’ benefit.

10. Homeschooling is the opportunity to recapture childhood for your kids. Allow your kids lots of time for play in the backyard, rainy afternoons in a cozy chair with a book, an building secret hideouts in the garden.

11.Homeschooling has also given us the safeguards to protect our children’s self-esteem and confidence to learn. Without faith in themselves, kids just don’t do well in their studies – or in life.

12. Homeschooling gives the kids the freedom to pursue their own interests, to control their time, to choose and change the direction of their education.


Preschool Skills & Activities

Color Recognition – Write the word RED on a piece of paper, the word BLUE on a second piece of paper, the word GREEN on a third piece of paper, and so on for all of the colors. Give your child some old magazines or catalogs and ask them to find pictures of things that are red, blue, green, etc. They can cut them out and paste them on the proper page.

Patterning – Take a walk and ask them to point out repeating patterns that they see along the way (in sidewalks, buildings, fences, etc.).

Classifying & Grouping – Place a bunch of assorted objects (small toys, buttons, household objects, etc.) on a table. Talk about how they are alike and different. Sort them into piles of things that go together according to size, shape, color, etc.

Categorizing – Ask children to look around the house for objects in specific categories. For example, you can ask them to find any objects that make sounds. Then choose another category, such as objects that are soft, or objects that are yellow. Talk to them about how each of the objects is used.

Letter Recognition – Make a bunch of letter flashcards (both capitals and lowercase). Hold them up one at a time in random order, or let the child pick each card out of a hat or basket. Have them name all of the letters. You can also have them identify the letters in each spoonful of alphabet soup that they eat!

Letter Matching – Write each letter of the alphabet on an index card in capital letters. Then write each letter of the alphabet on an index card in lowercase letters. (You should have a total of 52 cards, each depicting one letter, and make sure there is a lowercase letter for each capital letter.) Place all of the cards face down on a table. Have two players take turns turning over two cards each, trying to match a capital letter with a small letter. The player who gets the most matching cards wins.

Memory – Draw a simple picture on a piece of paper. Ask children to look at it carefully. Then tell them to close their eyes. While their eyes are closed, make a quick change in your drawing. Ask them to tell you what is different.

More Memory – Show your child a large picture, poster, or art masterpiece. Then turn it over or take it away and ask questions such as: How many people were in the picture? Were they happy or sad? What color was the house? Was the sky sunny or cloudy?

Following Directions – Cooking is a favorite activity for preschoolers. Let children measure, pour, stir and taste. Preschoolers enjoy following simple recipes. (Be sure to supervise preschool cooking activities at all times.)

Oral Language – Recite a short nursery rhyme or poem, or read one of their favorite story books and ask them to say the words along with you (choral reading) or repeat it after you (echo reading).

Storytelling & Sequencing – Show your child a large picture, poster, or art masterpiece. Ask them to tell you a story about what is happening in the picture. Ask them to predict what might happen next.

Dramatic Play – Set up some theme-related play centers outfitted with realistic items of a smaller size, such as a dollhouse, store, kitchen, restaurant, doctor’s office, home office, etc. Young children will enjoy practicing real-life daily living skills on their own scale.

Sound Recognition – Ask children to find something in the room whose name begins with the sound of a particular letter, such as B (ball, box, bottle). Repeat with other letter sounds.

Observation Skills – Choose an object which is easily visible and within sight in the room in which you and your child are sitting. Say something like “I spy something white.” If your child can’t guess what it is, add another adjective such as “I spy something white and round”. Continue this game until they guess correctly. Sometimes with little ones you have to be very specific such as “I spy something white, round and sitting on the shelf above the stereo.”


Home Schooling Methodologies

A home schooling methodology is a philosophy, or road map, of how you will structure and organize your teaching. There are almost as many home schooling methodologies as there are opinions on how to teach. Outlined here are some of the most popular and widely accepted home schooling methodologies.

Charlotte Mason

The Charlotte Mason home schooling methodology is based on the theories of the 19th century educator Charlotte Mason. It advocates making use of “best sources” of knowledge, literature, and the arts. The Charlotte Mason methodology makes use of “living books” to make subjects come alive. It focuses on core subjects and incorporates fine arts.

Classical Education

The classical method of education is education as it was taught in the middle ages. In this home schooling methodology there are three stages of learning, referred to as “The Trivium”. These include:

1. The grammar or knowledge stage. This stage involves learning facts and the elements of language.
2. The dialectic or understanding stage. This stage involves reasoning relationships and drawing conclusions based on learned facts.
3. The rhetoric or wisdom stage. This stage involves using language in composition, oratory, and debate to effectively express facts and their relationships.


The computer-based methodology is really more a method of delivering the text-book methodology through computer-based learning rather than a methodology unto itself.


The eclectic home schooling methodology can be thought of as the “mix and match”, or a “little bit of this and a little bit of that” methodology. In this methodology, you select pieces from other methodologies and weave your own methodology. It is an opportunity to try to pull from the best of the rest. Over time, many home schoolers tend to become more eclectic as they start to pull pieces of other methodologies into their originally selected methodology.


The Montessori home schooling methodology is based on the principles set forth by educator Maria Montessori. These three principles are observation, individual liberty, and preparation of the environment. In this methodology the emphasis is on preparing and controlling the environment and observing and guiding the child rather than controlling them and their activities.

Moore Formula

The Moore Formula for home schooling is based on three principles:

1. Study – Study time is based on the maturity of the child and ranges from a few minutes to several hours per day. It should be noted that the Moore Formula does not advocate formal scheduled study before a child is 8 to 10 years of age. Prior to this they advocate the use of less structured learning activities.
2. Manual work – Constructive, skill building, entrepreneurial work for at least as much time as study.
3. Home and community service – This should occur on a regular basis for about an hour a day.

Principal Approach

The Principal Approach to home schooling centers around three key concepts

1. Knowledge of our Christian history.
2. Understanding of our role in the spread of Christianity.
3. Living according to the biblical principles upon which our country was founded.

In this approach, there are seven basic principles upon which the United States was founded:

1. Individuality
2. Self-government
3. Christian character
4. Conscience is the most sacred of all property
5. The Christian form of government
6. How the seed of local self-government is planted
7. The Christian principle of American political union

Traditional textbook

The traditional textbook method is also known as “school at home” or the “scope and sequence” method. This is like moving the classroom from the school to the home as it seeks to mirror the school experience in a home environment. It is what most parents should be familiar with since it is probably the way that they were taught. The home school methodology makes use of textbooks and workbooks in a specific order.

Unschooling/Delight Directed Learning

Unschooling is almost quite literally the opposite of formal classroom education. In this home schooling methodology, the child is allowed to pursue their own interests and the adult simply provides resources and acts as a facilitator.

Unit Study

The Unit Study method may also be referred to as thematic units or integrated studies. This method of home schooling takes a topic or theme and integrates all subjects so that a student is exploring the topic form the point of view of the many different “normal” subjects. The emphasis is on studying the topic as a whole. This method can be beneficial for teaching more than one child regardless of age or grade. Each child explores the topic at their own level.


This home schooling methodology is based on the philosophy of Austrian Rudolph Steiner. Its’ emphasis is on educating the whole child – the head, heart, and hands. A Waldorf education is designed to meet the various stages of child development and seeks to instill a genuine enthusiasm for learning. The Waldorf methodology de-emphasizes competition.


Sonlight Home School Curriculum is probably the oldest and one of the most popular of the literature-based home school curriculums. Rather than use textbooks, which can be rather dry and uninteresting to many children, literature-based curriculums use “living books” like Charlotte Mason advocated. Students read historical fiction, first-person accounts and books written by people with a passion for their subject. The Literature-based method actually covers a broad range of home schooling methods, including the Unit Study method, Charlotte Mason method, and other methods.

Notebook Method

In this home schooling method children process what they are learning by creating notebooks of various subjects. An emphasis is on what the children are interested in, collecting information, and documenting their learning.

Self-learning/Independent Method

In this home schooling method, the parent helps the child to learn how to learn, and then the child uses the tools of reading, writing and arithmetic to learn more advanced concepts on his own. The parent is not there to teach, but to help the child through the process of developing confidence that he can learn on his own. 



Approaches to Home Schooling

by David Crank

From Volume 3 Issue 5 of Unless the Lord … Magazine

O you have decided to home school your children. Now what? Where do you begin? Your first thought is probably to approach home schooling in much the same way you were schooled (for most of us, that means a typical classroom approach). However, you should consider that there are actually many different ways to approach home schooling. Teaching your own children at home is very different from teaching a classroom of children at a public or private school. Consider your options and what will truly work best for you and your children.

There is no one best way to home school – at least not one that most can agree upon! All the major “ways” are praised highly by some home schooling parents. However, for each approach, there are also those who report that it did not work well for them, or that they found something better. It seems that one size does NOT fit all. If you are home schooling using one approach but having problems, perhaps it is time to look at other options.

Following are a number of the major approaches that home schooling families are using today.

The Traditional Approach

This approach is patterned after most public or private Christian schools. Specific subjects are taught in specific grades, using textbooks, workbooks and tests. The home schooling mother may lecture and lead her children as a normal school teacher would a class.

There are very good Christian textbooks and materials available to teach using this approach. Teachers’ guides and pre-prepared tests are often available. If you prefer, your children can actually be enrolled in a correspondence school, in which a teacher makes assignments through the mail and receives and checks your children’s work.

Another variation on this theme is the use of rented or purchased videos with a professional teacher lecturing on the subject at hand (for a considerable cost). Similarly, lectures and some personal teacher interaction (including with some other students) may be offered over the Internet.

With this one approach there are many variations and options. The traditional approach may be used with some subject matter while also using a very different approach with others.

The Traditional approach offers the advantages of a well thought out scope and sequence, along with assignments and tests designed to measure progress. However, some disadvantages include: the difficulty of teaching many different age levels at once; the amount of preparation and checking of work required by some curriculums; an education geared towards large amounts of time spent in desk work, even from an early age; and content and sequence of material that treats all children the same – not taking into account differences in interests, ability, or learning styles.




At the opposite end of the spectrum is “Unschooling.” This is a term coined by the late John Holt, an early secular home schooling advocate. This approach seeks to distance itself from all the traditional structures of schooling. Children learn through everyday life, using their natural curiosity and learning at their own pace. It is child directed learning and parents serve primarily as facilitators. Children are allowed to learn what they want to learn, when they want to learn it. Parents try to provide a stimulating environment to encourage curiosity and learning, but if the child doesn’t want to learn something, he doesn’t.

This approach tries to promote a true love of learning and self motivated learning. Children are allowed to choose what they are interested in learning and how they want to learn it. Generally textbooks and curriculum are not used, except sometimes for reference. The child may be asked to pick goals and parents may coax some to encourage reaching those goals – but not to the point of making learning a chore and damping the child’s motivation.

Though the idea of self directed / delight directed learning is very appealing, this approach seems too unstructured and risky to many parents. Most Christian parents, though they may embrace many of these concepts, operate under a different worldview than John Holt did, and thus are not comfortable with totally child directed learning. When you believe that children are born with a sin nature and that parents have a God given responsibility to train their children and raise them for the Lord – some degree of parental direction is called for.


Relaxed Home Schooling


Mary Hood, author of “The Relaxed Home School,” coined this name for an approach with a lot of self directed and unstructured learning, like Unschooling, but with more parental guidance and decision making about what things should be learned. To quote Mary Hood on the heart of relaxed home schooling – it is a belief that: “You are a family, not a school; You are a mother, not a teacher; You are a father and the head of your household, not a principal; You have individual relationships with your children, not a class; and God is in control anyway, not you, so you might as well stop pretending to be!”

Parents direct their children’s learning more through long range goals, not through a set standardized curriculum defining what must be learned by when. Different parents may take somewhat different approaches, but generally a lot of reading and self-directed learning activity is encouraged. This approach is particularly popular with teaching younger children. Young children are often encouraged to read widely and to learn through games, educational materials, and life experiences. Children may be encouraged to write about their experiences and what they have learned. Some will also use more traditional materials to help with learning math. When children are older, the emphasis may be on self directed study and research, as well as practical learning through work experience. The parent’s role becomes primarily one of accountability and participating with the older child in setting educational goals.

How is this style “relaxed?” Many consider it so because “school” is very informal, generally without lectures, much use of textbooks, assigned exercises or tests. They may be no set school “hours” or “days” (note that some state laws may not allow quite this much flexibility), only goals to be achieved.

Some of the advantages of this approach include: encourages self motivated learning, children learn at their own pace and in a sequence more in line with their interests, children are allowed to learn in the ways that they learn best, a lot of needless repetition and wasted time in typical curriculum course work is eliminated, and the burden for mom of preparing lessons and checking work is greatly reduced or eliminated.

Nevertheless, many are uncomfortable with this much flexibility and, particularly at the upper grade levels, see a need for more structure and working with conventional course books. Some are also concerned with the year to year progress and at least keeping up with the public schools in most subject areas. Though your children may be learning much more than their public school counterparts, they may be learning different things at different times. It can sometimes be uncomfortable when others see your child is considerably behind in an area like reading or basic math.

Relaxed Home Schooling and Unschooling are considered the same by some, but they truly are not. The key difference is in the underlying philosophy about whether the child needs any parental direction. Most Relaxed Home Schoolers are Christians who choose to play a role in training their children in the things of God and in deciding what things should be learned by the time their child is grown.


Unit Studies


The unit study approach attempts to bridge the separate subjects. Instead of studying math, science, history, geography, English, etc. as separate subjects, all or nearly all subjects are combined together focused around varying common themes. Often, historical periods are used as a theme and other subjects are related to the chosen period (i.e. ancient Egypt & the Near East, the ancient Greeks, the Middle Ages, etc.). Others have built unit studies around Bible passages (i.e. ATI Wisdom Booklets) or around studying nature, etc.

Unit studies enable almost the entire family to study together. Older children simply study the topic in more depth or are given more demanding assignments in the topic area. This approach can be a great help to those trying to teach a number of different ages / grade levels. Unit studies may also arouse more interest and allow more participation by the whole family in discussing what is being learned. The bridging of separate subjects into a single topic offers the advantage of a more integrated education – seeing the relationships between subject areas. Unit studies can often incorporate a variety of projects and activities allowing more hands on learning.

Curriculums can be purchased that are entirely built around unit studies. Parents can develop their own unit studies to teach to their children. Some parents will choose to combine unit studies with other approaches. Some mothers love the unit study approach, and some love creating their own unit studies. Others lack either the creativity or time to create their own studies and prefer more packaged curriculums.

A potential drawback to unit studies is the risk of educational gaps – important things in some subject areas that may be omitted in the unit studies or whole subjects that may receive too little attention because of being harder to integrate. Sometimes unit studies are designed to be very activity oriented with much time required of the teacher (both preparing and leading/teaching). This can become too much for some mothers.


Classical Approach


The Classical Approach in education, as advocated by Dorothy Sayers in her 1947 essay (“The Lost Tools of Learning”), has become very popular with home schoolers. Miss Sayers warned that schools were no longer teaching children how to think and learn for themselves. She urged a return to the classical education approach used in earlier times.

This approach to education is patterned after the medieval approach to education (which was related to the ancient Greek and Roman approach and continued to be used in most schools, to some degree, through the 1700s). Many of the great scholars, theologians, and political leaders of previous centuries were educated in this way. Certain elite private schools have always used this approach in their efforts to educate the supposed future elite of society.

During the primary and secondary education period, learning is organized around the Trivium. The Trivium is made up of three parts: Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric. The Grammar stage focuses on concrete thinking and large amounts of memorization. Many recommend the learning of Latin or Greek and possible a modern foreign language during this period. This stage lasts until approximately what we term middle school. Next is Dialectic, during which children are taught analytical thinking and logic. They are taught to reason, question and validate what they know. They are encouraged to ask and investigate the “why” questions. This roughly corresponds to the middle grades. This is followed by Rhetoric (approximately high school years), which focuses on the ability to organize one’s thoughts and to communicate effectively and persuasively.

How does this approach practically work? In the Grammar stage much focus is on memorizing phonics rules, learning spelling, learning to read well, memorizing math facts, learning foreign languages (including one or more of the classical languages: Greek or Latin), and learning as many facts in other areas of knowledge (such as history, geography, science, etc.) as possible.

Great literature is read and studied especially in the Dialectic and Rhetoric stages (in earlier times the Greek and Roman literature classics were read in the original languages). Often history and literature are studied together, reading the great books written during the time period studied.

During the Rhetoric stage, writing and speaking are emphasized, along with specialization in various areas of knowledge. Much of the writing and speaking may be centered around the great books read. This is also the stage for “hard” science, abstract mathematics and Biblical apologetics.

Teaching through the Classical Approach can sometimes be difficult for parents who have not themselves been at least partly educated in this way. It is much easier to teach the great classical books when you have read and studied them yourself. It is easier to teach logic and dialectic argumentation and rhetorical methods, when you yourself learned these things. For this reason, many parents look for further guidance and helps with teaching using the Classical Approach.

The Classical Approach appeals strongly to parents desiring to train their children to be influential in politics, academia, the media, and among the intellectual elite. Those with very different goals may find this approach to be too focused on academics with too little emphasis on developing practical life skills and a trade. Others may think there is too much emphasis on Greek and Roman culture and philosophy and too little emphasis on the Bible and seeing the world from God’s perspective. Actually it is truly what you make of it. Some parents may choose to use this method while adapting it to cover whatever shortcomings they perceive in the method as a whole.


Charlotte Mason / Whole Book Approach

This approach draws upon the teachings of Charlotte Mason (1842-1923), a teacher who had a great influence upon British education of her time. At that time, schools relied almost exclusively on dull textbooks and emphasized the memorization of dry facts. Miss Mason taught primarily from whole books, that she termed “living books” – in lieu of textbooks. By this she meant books usually written by a single author, who took a personal interest in the subject matter and communicated it with personality and enthusiasm. She also emphasized learning as much as possible from reading original sources. She believed students should be exposed to the best in literature and the fine arts and that much learning should be through real life experiences.

Miss Mason also employed narration as an alternative to tests and fill-in-the-blank exercises. Students narrated (verbal or written) what they had learned from the books (or portions of books) read. She believed in keeping lessons short and in finishing academic work by early afternoon, allowing time for nature walks, fine arts, and learning from first hand observation. She made no use of grades or reward systems.

The goal of her approach was to keep learning interesting and to allow students to learn to think for themselves. Methods such as the Clarksons’ WholeHearted Child /Home Centered Learning Approach, borrow heavily from Mason’s teachings.

How does this approach differ from the Classical Approach which also emphasizes the reading of great books? Mason does not have the same emphasis on either the early absorption of many facts, or the later instruction in rhetoric. The Mason approach is also typically less structured and more child directed – a bit closer to the Relaxed Home Schooling style.



There are many different approaches or ways to teach your children at home. Discussed above are just some of the major ones. There are many other variations as differing combinations of these approaches. Which one is right for you and your family? How do you decide?

I suggest you begin with considering your goals for your children. Prayerfully consider what sort of preparation and training you believe God would have you provide for your children.

We can sometimes make the mistake of establishing goals and hopes for our children based more on our own ambitions and dreams rather than upon God’s purposes for our children. As parents, we observe our children carefully and earnestly pray for wisdom and guidance with which to see God’s purposes for them – at least enough so that we may prepare them appropriately.

Some of our children will be meant to be statesmen, scholars, scientist or theologians. Others will be chosen to be lawyers, doctors, engineers, missionaries, pastors, builders, entrepreneurs, salesmen, even tax collectors. Most of our daughters will be intended to be wives and mothers, but wives to men in many differing professions and circumstances, coming alongside as their helpmates. Different callings call for differing training. God has prepared good works for each of us to do, but they are not all the same good works (Eph 2:10). He has likewise gifted each of us somewhat differently, with His own purposes in mind. As parents, we need to get on board with God’s plan for our children, as much as possible.

Next consider your abilities and limitations. You may be more gifted than others in creating your own unit studies and developing your own curriculum. You may have been blessed with an unusually good education in a certain area or may have received some portion of a classical education yourself. Different giftedness or lack thereof among parents is a significant factor in choosing approaches. There are ways to compensate for many of your shortcomings, but it may not be worthwhile when there is another method that plays better to your strengths.

No one can do everything well, especially not all at the same time! Some mothers have large families with ages spread over a wide spectrum. Others have only a few children, close together in age. Some mothers face challenges with one or more special needs children. Others face ongoing health problems that are limiting. Some wives need to work closely alongside their husbands in a home business or in maintaining a farm, while others have no such responsibilities. Still others are burdened with much responsibility in caring for an aged parent or grandparent.

Consider your available time and what will be required of you with each method. No one method is easiest or hardest for everyone. Look for a method that will support your goals while working best for you in your situation.


In Conclusion …


Don’t be quick to change from method to method. But neither be too slow to change when one method is really not working well for you and your children. Home Schooling offers tremendous flexibility and gives you many choices for how to approach the education of your children. Choose wisely your approach and your priorities


How Boys Learn

Boys and girls are very different – I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it with my own children, and I believe it with my whole heart. I’ve recently learned that boys are even MORE different from girls that I had previously realized.

I just finished reading some eye-opening books by Dr. Leonard Sax: “Why Gender Matters” and “Boys Adrift”. These books include scientific evidence showing that boys not only behave differently than girls, they also hear differently, see differently, respond to stress differently, and think differently.

The things they can learn are very similar, but the way they go about learning is very different. Boys require a very different educational environment and teaching approach if we are going to help them reach their full potential.

Boys SEE Differently

Males have more rods in their eyes versus cones. Rods help us to see distance and speed. Females have more cones than rods. Cones help us to see color and shape. Because of this difference, boys tend to draw verbs with little color variation in their pictures while girls tend to draw nouns with lots of different colors.

When asked to draw a picture, Sally will draw a house with people and flowers and lots of pretty colors. Steve will draw a tornado which is knocking down a house – and his picture will look like a large black swirl.

Implications for teaching boys

* Do not expect boys to draw something recognizable or to draw something with lots of colors. When we find fault in this way, boys begin to think that art is for girls and not for boys.
* Allow them to draw verbs and to do it in a way that is fast and furious.
* Don’t hold eye contact with a boy unless you’re disciplining him.

Boys HEAR Differently

Baby girls can hear ten times better than boys, and this difference gets even worse as they get older. Boys can only hear every 3rd word or so of soft-spoken teachers. When boys can’t hear what their teacher is saying, they tend to drift off – getting some boys the incorrect diagnosis of ADHD.

Boys also tend to make little noises wiggling and tapping pencils which are irritating to girls – but they don’t even realize they are making them.

Implications for teaching boys

* Speak more loudly than you normally would and be very expressive.
* Use lots of voice fluctuation and hand motions to engage boys.
* While working with your son, sit down next to him, spread the materials out and look at them shoulder to shoulder.

Boys THINK Differently

We don’t know all of the differences in how boys and girls think but we now know that their brains are arranged differently. We’ve all heard that we use the left side of our brain for verbal activities and the right side for art. Actually, we now know that this is only true in males.

Males who have a stroke on the left side of their brain lose 80% of their verbal ability. The verbal ability in females who have a stroke on the left side of their brain is much less impacted, proving that their verbal ability is spread across both sides of their brain.

There are many other differences in how male and female brains are arranged. For more details, check out Dr. Sax’s books in the Parent Helps section of our Amazon bookstore.

Implications for teaching boys

* Book learning is essential; but, without practical, hands-on experience, boys will hard a hard time grasping concepts that seem simple to us. They will disengage from their lessons.
* Boys need real world experiences in their education which engage all of their senses.
* Boys also need plenty of time outdoors.
* Boys have a hard time processing their emotions. Don’t ask boys “How would you FEEL if…” questions. Ask them “What would you DO if…” questions.
* Boys like to have at least some control over their environments. Put each day’s schoolwork into a folder and let them decide the order in which they will complete it.

When studying literature, try these tips:

* Have boys draw maps based on clues in the book.
* Assign articles from the daily newspaper.
* Have them read books with strong male characters doing unpredictable things (i.e., C.S. Lewis, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, Twain, etc.)

Boys SEE THEMSELVES differently

Girls tend to underestimate their own abilities. Boys tend to overestimate their own abilities. Boys also enjoy taking risks much more than do girls. The more a boy takes risks the more favorably they are seen by their peers.

Danger itself gives boys a pleasant feeling of exhilaration as opposed to the fearful feelings it causes in girls. Moderate stress also helps boys to perform better as adrenaline causes more blood to flow to their brain. Stress has the opposite effect on girls.

Implications for teaching boys

* Boys respond well to a challenge if there are winners and losers.
* A competitive team format works better than individual competitions for boys because they don’t want to let their teammates down.
* Participating in single-sex activities such as boy scouts or team sports are very good for your sons.

If your son seems to crave danger, take these necessary steps:

* Give them lessons with a professional (i.e., skiing) to help them to more accurately evaluate their own abilities.
* Supervise your child. Their risk is lower if they aren’t allowed to be alone with groups of peers because they will be less likely to try to “show off” for their friends if an adult is present.
* Assert your authority – don’t argue with your son. Don’t negotiate. Just do what you have to do (i.e., lock up their bike).

By the way, the optimum tempature for learning for boys is 69 degrees, while it is 74 degrees for girls. If you set the temperature so that it is comfortable for you, you may find your sons falls asleep or their minds wandering instead of focusing on their lessons.

If you have the opportunity to set up a single-sex learning environment for your children that works well. Try using different methods to teach your sons as opposed to the ones you use to teach your girls and you will be amazed at how your sons respond to your efforts!

Armed with this knowledge, we can set up more ideal learning environments where we can engage our sons and help them to reach their full potential.

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