07 December 2011

Boys in School

This post comes from the Book Study that I'm doing from the Dr. James Dobson book Bringing up Boys.  I've been doing it for several months now, on Wednesdays, and this is one of my favorite chapters because I can really relate to the topic.

As most of you know I taught Pre-K for a year at United Children's Preschool in New Brunswick, and then taught 3rd and 4th grade for almost 7 years at Timothy Christian School in Piscataway.

One thing I can tell you from my teaching experience is that boys and girls learn differently and as a mom I can definitely confirm this fact.

As a teacher I was much more rigid in the classroom with my students than I am as a stay at home mom.  (I'm sorry!)  Partly because in the classroom I had anywhere from 16 to 25 students to maintain and educate and when you have 16-25 students per teacher there is only so much one can do to meet the needs of every child and every learning style.  It is an ongoing struggle all teachers have in the classroom, how do I meet the individual needs and learning styles of all my students.  I can remember coming home and really trying to plan new ways to adapt my lessons to accommodate visual, audio, and kinesthetic learners.

Now I am a teacher to two students.  My almost 4 year old daughter Julia and my 2 1/2 year old son.  And not only are their ages different (so I have to adjust different learning material) but they ARE totally different learners. Julia doesn't sit still until you put a crayon and paper in her hands and Mark doesn't sit still....period.

In the classroom I made sure my 3rd and 4th grade students did Reader's Theater, class projects, silent reading around the room (they could choose a bean bag or comfy spot under a desk) journaling, and sometimes we did our test reviews in class by using a game or chocolate pudding/shaving cream on wax paper to practice spelling our spelling words.

A quote Dobson used was, "Boys feel like school is a game rigged against them.  The things which they excel-gross motor skills, visual and spatial skills, their exuberance-do not find as good a reception in school."
I can see why boys loved gym, and recess as their favorite subjects in school.  Because they were able to be using their gross motor skills, their excitement and enthusiasm, and their visual and spatial skills.  No wonder when we did Field Trips and special activities like Earth Day everyone was excited.  They got to be outside having fun and using their body.

Lots of children, not just boys, can't learn sitting at a desk all day.  I knew that as a teacher my first year.  I tried to make sure we sat on our desks, read under our desks, buddied up around the room to study, anything to get them moving and out of their seats.  I am not one to sit at my desk for hours either, although it doesn't bother me, I do like to move!

Another quote I thought was interesting was, "Children are also being placed in formalized educational settings at younger ages, which is very hard on boys.  They tend to be six months behind girls in development at six years of age, which makes it tough for many of them to sit quietly and work with pencils and paper and to cope with the social pressures suddenly thrown at them.  Too many of them get off to a bad start and begin feeling "dumb" and inadequate."

I know for a fact that Julia although she will only be 4 1/2 next year in the Fall would be absolutely ready for a school setting.  She is very independent, very willing to please authority, and loves a challenge.  I don't know if it's because she is a girl, or because she is a first born, or what, but she is just READY!

And lots of my friends with boys who miss the age cut off for Kindergarten gladly keep their boys home an extra year because they don't feel their boys are ready for school just yet.

"Let's face it, school can be a rugged place for those who don't "fit in with the typical classroom program."
Children are expected to:

1. sit at a desk quietly
2. follow directions
3. hold a pencil properly
4. walk in straight lines
5. sit still

And sometimes these seem simple and easy, but to a child who's little body just isn't quite ready for it, these tasks can be difficult.

As a Pre-K teacher we were not even allowed to do Circle time longer than 10-15 minutes because it was deemed inappropriate for a 3/4 year old to sit still longer than that, and mind you we did songs, stories, finger plays, weather graphing, etc.

This chapter really made me appreciate the time I've been able to stay home with my kids, and also realize the benefits of home schooling.  It's not necessarily for every one, and some don't choose to do it forever, but for the time that you can do it, it is awesome to be able to meet your child's individual needs and see them grow and blossom under your personal care and attention that they couldn't get in a classroom of 25 kids.

Dr. Dobson listed a bunch of things to help your son practice the art of reading.  The main part of the parent is to motivate your child to practice reading and he listed a ton of ideas that would intrigue boys...here are a few:

1. Boys want more action in the books.  (girls like character development)
2. If the characters or the action in the book is not moving fast enough boys will stop reading.
3. Fiction books need to be full of info.
4. Snakes, spiders, and airplanes are very captivating.
5. Make reading a regular part of household activities.
6. Give books as presents.
7. Your son should see YOU read.
8. Never give them just one book, try 5 or 6, the more options the better chance they will find one they like.
9. Take your son to the bookstore or library and let HIM explore his reading options.
10. Boys will jump on books that match their interests.

Hope these ideas helped!

Just remember you as the parent know your child the best and are their very first teacher and motivator!  And don't forget to truly LOVE your job as parent/teacher...we are so blessed to be parents to our sons and daughters!  Many couples would love to be in our shoes so appreciate your children and love love love them to pieces!



  1. I'm new to your blog today and love it! I'm your new GFC follower :) I'd love for you to link up at my 1st ever "Life is About... blog hop" going on now!


  2. I'm so thankful for your posts of raising boys! I've been mulling the idea of homeschooling around in my head for a while now. I was a substitute teacher for a few years before I got married and it made me sad (at least here in California) that there is simply not enough money to provide a well rounded education. Homeschooling is not a popular decision around here and is looked down upon. But I don't care it's important to me to let my children be who they are.

  3. I hope you will try to look at differential treatment from others, even perhaps unconsciously beginning at an early age. I feel the genetic models will not provide sufficient tools to make a difference. I feel there are other variables at work such as less kind stable verbal interaction for Male children and more rough treatment that may create more social emotional distance lag in maturity more activity for natural stress relief and higher muscle tension creating a tighter grip and more pressure on pencil/pen hurting handwriting. I feel the Male ego could begin early as a form of defensive measures that only perpetuate and increase more physical and less mental/emotional/social growth. I so this area will be explored first for it provides more variables tools for improvement. http://learningtheory.homestead.com/Theory.html


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