The interests of the Elementary school boys I work with vary from wild animals and science experiments to track and field and soccer. It’s great to see boys at a young age explore what interests them and even some who already know what they are really good at doing. Through continued encouragement to pursue and explore these activities, they may lead to other interests as well.
Discover and Honor Interests
Many boys suffer from short attention spans and get bored easily. Usually the boredom comes from disinterest and feelings of being over- or under-challenged. Those feelings may discourage boys from trying something new. Boys will more spend time focusing on something that interests them than activities that have little excitement or mental stimulation for them. What will excite and stimulate varies for each of them. Help boys find out what it is they are good at and then encourage it. With the encouragement and support to try a variety of activities, they will discover for themselves which ones interest them and which do not.
Encourage New Interests
Challenge them! A challenge will keep them interested in the activity that they are focusing on and will give them the determination to conquer the challenge. They will feel a huge sense of accomplishment. Foster confidence by encouraging boys to think BIG! No idea or activity should feel unattainable to them.
If a boy enjoys science, inspire him to work toward an award-worthy entry in the science fair. If he enjoys sports, support his efforts to try other team-building activities too. Or maybe he likes to write, encourage him to try a novel-length story.
How One Interest Can Lead to Another
Sometimes boys can find new interests by further exploring the ones they already enjoy. One of my students told me his favorite subject is Science. He didn’t have specifics about what he liked about Science, so I suggested we read a book about dinosaurs together. He read each page out loud, learning all about Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus and even willingly struggled through the awkward pronunciations. We looked up on the world map where each dinosaur was said to be found – Eastern Africa, South America, parts of Europe.
By the end of the book my student was wide-eyed and wanting to know more about the lands where the dinosaurs were found. He uncovered a new interest that grew out of his broader interest in Science. Hopefully his excitement and curiosity will lead to even more new discoveries that will continue to follow him into adulthood.
Encouraging boys to discover and pursue their interests not only broadens their horizons to new ideas, but will help build a foundation of esteem and self confidence for a lifetime.