When boys struggle more in elementary school much of the struggle traces back to the elementary school teacher and how they are trained. Some how in all the quietly and diversity training in education we’ve lost the balance. In general, there are differences in the learning styles of boys and girls. When a teacher can embrace the differences and create a classroom that encourages individual success and learning styles, the gender gap tightens.
Let’s look at the premise that boys don’t do well sitting at a desk and working for long periods of time. With balance in mind, perhaps we could offer some options of projects done standing up at a table or counter for those who just need to wiggle. While it is important that they learn to sit and work, some adjustments can be made.
Teachers need to be taught how to create a number of learning opportunities geared toward different learning styles. Most classrooms currently lack this. For example, most boys are tactile learners. How does that translate into classroom work?
Perhaps spelling words could first be spelled with tiles and then written on the spelling paper. Maybe spelling should be practiced while jumping rope or bouncing a ball. Math can be done with objects. Instead of a worksheet you can use a chalk board for some students so they can move. The key is to try every possible suggestion and see what works for the individual. Currently teaching is normally done with “class” projects in mind and that often leaves the boys out.
Over and over again studies show that boys are 2 to 4 years behind girls in the arena of social maturity. A great teacher realizes this and doesn’t allow immature behavior to become the main focus of the classroom. Practicing positive discipline can help boys mature and teach everyone tolerance. Focus and reward the behavior you are looking for.
Parent involvement in the classroom can make a huge difference in the success of students. Another set of eyes and hands can give the teacher wiggle room to be creative. Recently I was able to witness some parent involvement that made a real difference to a young boy. We were at the school watching a little program with poems and songs. This wise father sat down to have cookies and punch after the performance with his son.
“You know Justin, I am really proud of you. It takes a lot of hard work to learn all those things and remember. This will help you when you get old like me and need to remember things for your job.”
Justin beamed. He also learned that learning has long term value.
Much has been said about lack of male role models, especially in elementary classes where the majority of teachers are women. Teachers should seek out these role models and give them an honored place in the classroom. Remember, these can be fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins and family friends as well as professionals.
Opportunity abounds to adjust the trend of boys struggling in elementary school. Get involved in a school and make a difference.