You may have read a lot in the press about the underachievement of boys in school. This does not need to be the case if we are aware of what boys need and how they learn most effectively. There is a lot that we, as parents and educators, can do to give boys the skills and aptitude to succeed.
At Crawley Green our boys do very well, achieving above the national average and significantly above what might be expected of them. They are generally very motivated and keen to learn and behave well.
We recognise that there are many different ways to learn and boys in general need active learning. They remain interested and enthusiastic when they are doing practical activities.
Here are a few of the research findings of why nationally, boys underachieve:
· Parents have a different social attitude towards boys.
· Boys often lack independence before school age.
· The reading of fiction is perceived as being for girls.
· Boys are less developed linguistically on entry to school.
· They see writing activities as irrelevant and unimportant.
· Boys have fewer opportunities to be reflective.
· They may have few positive male role models.
· They are subject to peer pressure.
What can we do to make a difference?
Research has found that boys are not expected by parents to be as independent as girls. They do more for boys and even in high school some parents are still packing their bags for them! From a very early age encourage your son to do as much as possible for himself – it takes a lot longer but is time well spent.
Speaking and listening:
It is known that girls have better listening skills, even in the womb. They use between 10 and 30 times more language in their play. We need to develop boys’ speaking and listening skills. Talk to them as much as possible, using questions to encourage their reflective thinking. Listen to them and encourage them to express their ideas. Join in their play.
More girls are taken regularly to the library than boys. Boys often prefer non-fiction books to fiction. Non-fiction books are obviously valuable, but fiction books develop their reflective thinking and build on creative language. Reading stories to boys, talking about them afterwards and acting out stories are extremely important. Letting boys see other male members of the family reading for pleasure gives them the message that this is a good thing to do.
Co-ordination and motor skills develop at a later stage in boys and they are therefore often not ready to write as early as girls.
Giving your son the opportunity to develop his co-ordination and motor skills will prepare him for writing. Activities such as, for example:
· climbing, crawling and balancing
· scrunching up newspaper
· playing with pasta and dried beans (using tweezers or forefinger and thumb to pick up)
· bead threading
· using large brushes and water to ‘paint the walls’
· dough, plasticine, sand and water play
· drawing in a tray of sand, cornflour or rice
· drawing and writing in role play, eg. draw a treasure map for the garden and then let him hide some treasure
Here are a few websites that you may find useful:
www.hanen.org Promoting positive parent-child interaction
www.basic-skills-wales.org Language and play
www.pippin.org.uk Parents in partnership parent information network