“This is BORING!”: The #1 reason kids say this (It’s not what you think!)
If you are looking for ideas for “engaging topics” you may want to stop reading. Really. This article is for the homeschool teachers who have excellent materials and ideas but are still experiencing frustration over kids who “hate reading,” and seem to not put in the effort, kids who always say, “This is BORING!”
If this is a challenge in your homeschool classroom, you may relate to the story of first-year homeschool mom, Anna, and her 7th grader, Jason:
Anna had planned a unit around Jason’s favorite place: the local skate park. Skate Park Week would be differentiated (one-on-one!), hands-on and engaging. The physics experiments, social studies projects and language arts assignments she planned would address academics naturally—the opposite of the desk work Jason struggled with last year.
Tony Hawk: The Autobiography, should have been the perfect pick. The reading level was definitely not an issue. Starting in kindergarten, Jason was considered a gifted reader, well past his peers. Unfortunately, he had become less enthusiastic about reading over the years. Everything was “boring,” and he struggled to stay on task. Teachers often noted his ability to pay attention during activities that captured his interest. In a homeschool setting, individualized material was now possible.
Anna had Jason read from the first chapter:
“Skating also taught me the meaning of focus and perseverance. One time at Del Mar when I was trying to learn a new trick, I set it up with an easy trick called a 50-50. It was simple; I just needed to grind both my trucks on the edge of the concrete bowl. I had done it thousands of times before. I could do it in my sleep. This time, though, I got stuck on the edge and started to fall. I put my hands in front of my face to protect it, but unfortunately, it was too late. My face bounced off the concrete. My mouth was full of blood.”
Before Anna could start the writing lesson, she was stopped in her tracks with: “This is BORING!”
Jason could decode and define “perseverance.” And as an aside, he could execute a 50-50 himself. What could be the problem?
Most reading experts agree on one thing: In order to comprehend what they read, students must have strong decoding skills and adequate oral vocabulary. In other words, a child must be able accurately decode every word on the page, and know what all of the words mean.
Unfortunately, many students who can decode well and understand words still have weak comprehension. What is the missing piece for these students?
Those of us who love books are visualizing the story. We make “movies” when we read. The words turn into pictures and we remember those images. However, there are individual differences in student’s abilities to visualize concepts when they read.
So Jason, though reading accurately, is processing the words, or parts, rather than the whole. He is not “seeing” the story. So of course: “This is BORING!”
The good news is that the imagery-language connection can be developed. Asking a student “what did those words make you picture?” is a great start, directly stimulating this vital skill.
Learn more about Concept Imagery