Why Boys Struggle more than Girls in Elementary School

In elementary school, teachers need to realize the necessity of regular, daily physical activity for boys, while parents and teachers alike need to have higher expectations, and recognition that boys may work more independently and respond to different teaching methods.

I find that boys are more restless in the classroom and very anxious for recess. They need to get out their energy to work effectively. However, one discipline tactic that is often employed by teachers is taking away recess. This is effective in the short run because the boys have to continue working during recess. However, the productivity of the boy held in for recess goes down during the day as his need for physical activity and his frustration level increases. Also, the threat of losing recess reduces its effectiveness when it is constantly used and the boys become resigned to the loss.

Boys appear to be more independent workers than girls. They less readily ask for or accept help on assignments than do girls. This may result in lower scores on classwork or homework as they have figured it out on their own. However, the boys will be more prepared for college as they work more independently and have learned more without coaching. What they have learned will stick better because they have struggled through it on their own. Boys respond better to different teaching methods, such as working on practical applications or projects.

Parents and teachers may have lower expectations of boys in elementary school. They are more apt to just “write it off” for the time being. Students work to our expectations of them. If we expect the boys to perform to the same level as the girls, they most likely will.

And, in the learning curve, studies have shown that boys will catch up and possibly surpass the girls later. It’s really okay for boys to work to march to their own tune. There may be a maturity level difference. If a boy hasn’t turned five by the time school starts, it is pragmatic to let him start the following year. He may well be ahead of the class and a leader the following year. Then, he is ahead in the playing field.