What should I do when my Kids are Bored?
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.
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 do you deal with bored kids?
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.
If you have bored children, make sure you don't do this
You may have the best intentions to deliver a great homeschooling experience for your children, but we can often get caught in the traps of productivity and academic success, driven by society. Here's how to reduce boredom and keep up that student engagement:
1. Don't 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.
2. Don't Only Focus on their Success
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.
3. Don't Shut Down their Individuality
Each of our children have unique ways of learning, as well as different interests. When all our time is spent studying a prescribed set of lessons (having to learn certain things at certain ages), we don’t make the most of a child's natural curiosity. When that curiosity is minimised we end up with bored students.
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 - and it is consolidated when it's most relevant to the individual interests of the child.
Here's the best things to re-engage bored kids
When you have bored students, one of the best things you can do is pause. Put the brakes on with the homeschooling/academic book-learning side of things and focus on life. Go and enjoy outings together, enjoy the world around you, dive into books and creative projects based on the things your student is interested in. Pursue 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. When you have bored students, it's of little-to-no benefit pushing through their boredom with more lessons.
Your bored students need their curiosity re-ignited. And that curiosity ignites when they engage with the world, without expectations and lesson plans. It may seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes break is exactly what you and your kids need to be most productive.
4 Simple Tips for Working with Bored Kids
1. Learn what interests your child
Take an active interest in what sparks your child's imagination and engagement, you'll naturally find ways to align with them. This will help when you are planning activities that will interest them.
2. Give them time to dig into what interests them
Allow your child to have enough freedom to explore what interests them, you allow them to take control of their own learning - and this can be very empowering!
3. Help them learn about the things that interest them
Feed those interests that you have discovered about them, or that they have had the time to discover for themselves, you'll create a stronger interest in learning and a deeper connection with your child. They will feel supported and much happier - goal achieved! No more boredom!
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 need to learn them right now? If they are bored, then perhaps now is not the time. Start by reigniting curiosity and encouraging their interest in the world around them. And then learning becomes fun.
4. Maths games and activities
A great way to engage with your child and take maths (and any kind of learning) off the page and into the real world, it's a great idea to include some games and activities. By making learning light hearted and fun through play, you'll support much happier students.
We made a resource just for your bored students, to help them re-engage with the world and do maths activities that are also fun. None of these involve screen time or book work. And they're free to download as a PDF.
Here's our favourite 100 Maths Activities that you can do outside the classroom:
Let us know if you have any questions
The Team at Maths Australia
References: Bored Students