Teaching boys a new skill is exciting, fun, and well… exasperating.
Boys don’t think or process the same way that we as women do, and skill subjects can feel like a trip to the dentist. Our goal is to give you a renewed love and appreciation for your mini-man; and to really connect with his heart, head and hands over the coming weeks and months. We’re going to give you a toolbox first so you can teach your special guy the skills necessary to be a competent, willing helper in your household now — and someday a responsible leader and provider in his own home.
Plan short lessons with a single goal & tangible reward.
Girls enjoy spending time with mommy and working on a variety of projects and skills. They are motivated by relationships, just like you. Boys are motivated by projects and missions that have a clear and obtainable goal and offer a reward for their labor. Instead of making a meal together, make a single recipe. Patch a hole in a pair of pants. Wash the car. Plant a tree.
Men communicate better side-to-side than face-to-face.
A wise wife knows that a car ride is the single best place to get her hubby talking. The same thing is true for sons: talking while you work, ride, or eat side-by-side is a powerful communication tool with males. While you’re teaching these skills, make a conscious effort to be beside him; not face-to-face or behind his back telling him “how to do it.”
Talk less, show more.
Most men prefer action to verbal directions: use object lessons if possible.
Challenge yourself to say as few words as possible, and then allow your son to ask questions to clarify when necessary.
One of our first lessons require your son to measure flour. Whether you teach him to use a kitchen scale or to spoon flour into the cup and then level it with a knife, try to use 3-5 words instead of 437. “Cup. Spoon. Level,” or, “Bowl. Power. Tare. Ounces.” is tremendously effective when you are standing next to him and showing him.
If he asks “Why?”, and we hope he does, have him measure a cup of flour dipping into the canister or bag and then weigh the flour he scoops out. Do the same thing yourself and weigh the flour you’ve scooped out to show him how much a measurement can vary from one person to the next. Don’t just tell him, “Well, every person measures out a different amount of flour, so we have to all learn to scoop it the same way or weigh it out so that the recipe comes out the right way.”
Use strong, exciting language.
Keep your voice soft and low, but choose words that have the ability to motivate a man: military, sports, cars, computers/electronics, and woodcraft words all associate the home skills you’re trying to teach with the excitement of the male world he normally inhabits. A hearty “Boo-yah!” followed by a fist bump is a far better way to celebrate a great batch of muffins with a boy than a hug and “they look so pretty.” Picking up a sewing or first aid kit at an Army surplus will have your son patching up people and pants in no time. Go to a car show & have him ask the owners how they wash, wax, & shine their wheels.
Identify your son’s personality and interests before you attempt to teach a skill.
Professional educators often spend hours keeping up with everything from sports teams to space exploration so they can make their teaching exciting and relevant. Your son probably has one or two key interests that you can use to lead from the known and loved to the unknown. Most boys’ personalities also fall somewhere on the continuum between explorer and engineer.
An explorer forges ahead in every project at an alarming pace, intent on getting to the goal as quickly and loudly as possible. If he fails to achieve his goal, he simply jumps back in with renewed vigor.
An engineer is careful and methodical and enjoys tools and research – he longs to do things “the right way” and dislikes short cuts or failed attempts.
If your son tends more toward the explorer, give him short lessons, and allow him to learn by failing. “Debrief” him after each failure, and allow him to try again now that he understands his mistake. In FIRST robotics clubs, the students are required to learn by trial and error.
If, on the other hand, your guy is more of an engineer, seek to give him careful instruction and proper tools, allowing him to enjoy the process. Failure will demotivate this type of learner.
In our Home Skills for Boys course, we start with the kitchen unit: You can use this unit to learn your son’s style, and then continue to tailor the lessons for his personality.
The “Super Skills Formula”: How to Teach a Skill Like a Pro
You’ll be teaching your son dozens of new skills this year. Use this formula to help him master each new skill quickly:
1. Show him how to do the skill, explaining each step. If you can make the steps into a game or use hand motions, he’ll remember them better.
2. Have him tell you how to do it, recalling each step, but you’re still the “hands”. If he can’t remember the next step, prompt with questions.
3. Have him demonstrate the skill, telling you each step before he does it. Prompt if necessary.
4. Have him demonstrate the skill without prompts until he can perform the new skill with excellence.
5. Have him teach the material back to you or teach it to another child using these same steps.
This is the true “secret sauce” that will not only vastly improve the way you teach your boys new skills, but also help them understand and retain those skills. It just plain works. So, armed with this understanding of your mini-man, let’s get started on those lessons….
PS. It’s on sale at a huge discount until April 30th too!