Alleviating Boredrums: Increasing Engagement

Dear Homeschooler,

Are you sometimes met with the curled lip and furrowed brow when you announce the commencement of spelling or math drills? How about penmanship or copywork? I do. In general, my first-grader loves school and learning new things, however, sometimes he just digs his heels in and a 15 minute activity turns into 45 minutes of hair-pulling. 

Bored student balancing a pencil on his noseI dare say most students feel this way at one point or another. This can be a flag that the material is challenging and your student needs some scaffolding (using different techniques to support his learning i.e. different strategies and levels of assistance), but sometimes, it just means that he is bored! I call this a boredrum (a tantrum caused by boredom). This is often seen in those subjects with repetitive drills or where content doesn’t progress fast enough. 

Now, let me say that I do see the value in teaching my kids to complete activities (hopefully with happy hearts) they don’t like or aren’t interested in. I believe it is a part of life and a necessary skill for future employment. However, getting kids engaged in the activity not only will help them hurdle learning challenges but also can dispel a bad case of the boredrums.

I have a great example of this from the recesses of my childhood. My mom decided to homeschool my two siblings and me when I was in grade 7. My sister, grade 4, was struggling with her multiplication tables (for her math was both challenging and boring). One day when we were swimming in our backyard pool, I  spend an hour dancing around singing the three times tables. Now, she still had to work really hard at her math lessons, but to this day (many, many years later 🙂 she still remembers what 9×3 is. Engagement can be an incredibly useful and effective tool to help students acquire their learning objectives.

The ways to increase engagement are endless:

  • Incorporate thematic units
  • Change materials or mediums (Use chalk, white board, smelly markers, etc.)
  • Incorporate interest-based materials/subject matter (If your student really loves superheros, print drills on superhero-themed paper.)
  • Add a sensory element (Students can sit on yoga ball during drills or spell words in sand.)
  • Add a kinesthetic element/ movement (Have student jump the answer to simple drills.)
  • Change environment (Do that lesson outside or at the coffee shop.)
  • Change up your schedule (Sometimes, knowing that a really exciting/interesting activity is directly following the ‘boring’ one is enough to motivate students.)

How do you alleviate the boredrums? I’d love to hear your ideas. Share your strategies below!

Till next time,



Leave a Reply