I keep hearing that boys are failing at school, that they are problem students, that they are falling behind. I don’t know if this is true — I only have sons, so I can’t compare what today’s schools are like for girls — but I do know that my boys learn differently from the ways I liked to learn when I was little. (And yes, a girl.)
So as more of my children enter the school years I’ve become more and more interested in the research and tips that focus on the learning styles of boys. I don’t subscribe to the belief that all boys who are good at specific things are bad at others just because they’re boys — I personally don’t limit my potential because of my gender and I will never do that to my sons. But I do notice certain differences and I choose to celebrate them.
In my research I’ve found useful tips on how to capitalize on the differences, and I’m making more of an effort to try them now that we are starting a brand-new school year.
Encourage them to get physical before school starts.
I got this tip from Raising Cain, by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson — boys do better after recess, so why not let them get some physical activity in before school starts? Get to preschool fifteen minutes early so they can hit the playground, or simply walk to school.
Allow boys to write about what interests them instead of what interests you.
This one is from PBS.org, and it’s one that’s going to be challenging for me once my Beyblades-obsessed boy starts writing on the subject. But the logic is solid — it’s a way for them to experience the power of the written word, both as a release for the writer and how it influences (or not) the reader.
Speaking of writing, encourage them to storyboard
Boys’ brains have larger areas dedicated to mechanical and spatial functions. Tell your boys to draw a picture or storyboard before they sit down to write a story. Pictures will help them organize their thoughts.
Let them choose their own reading material
Sounds simple, but it’s very hard for me to recommend books to my boys that they’ll show interest in. I know that if they just gave Harriet the Spy a chance they would love it as much as I did, but for now my focus is on getting them started on a lifelong love affair with books. Need help finding books your boys will love? Check out guysread.com!
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