School Readiness for Boys
Is He Ready for School?
Parents of 4, 5 and 6 year olds begin to wonder about first grade readiness: Is he ready for school? How is he ever going to be able to behave in school? He can’t sit still!
It is important to think about what schools are asking of children. The pace of education has increased. However, our brain structure and development has not changed since our brains evolved when we were hunters and gatherers.
What are we asking our children to do that they don’t actually have the brain structure and development yet to do?
When you observe kindergartners or first graders, the boys are typically 1 to 1.5 years behind the girls in their fine motor development, their ability to sit still, and their ability to follow directions.
Send him to school as late as possible! That way, he’ll be the oldest in his class. This will benefit him through all the years of school
An extra year of kindergarten is advisable. A rising trend in America, and more established in Europe, are outdoor kindergartens. This gives boys, especially, an opportunity to be outside, to be physical, learning in a way that suits him much more. It is better than teacher (93% chance she is female) saying, Here you are in the classroom, it’s time to sit still and learn.”
Another part of development is the language areas of his brain. They are slower to develop than girls. So, while there are girls in first grade who can write complete stories, follow sequences, and read, your boy may not be ready to read until second or third grade.
Of course, there are boys that read when they are 3 or 4, each child is different. But overall, trying to teach a 5 year-old boy to read is like teaching a 3.5 year-old to read! Can you image?! Developmentally his brain is not yet ready to process language, track words across a page, and be able to match sounds and symbols.
In school, we’re asking too much, too early, of many of our boys.
Having boys enter school before they are developmentally ready and attempting to teach them to read before they are ready, sets them up for failure from the beginning. In first grade, they feel school isn’t for them, they see the girls succeeding where they can’t - yet.
What are their alternatives to this stress? They become withdrawn. Or they get even more rambunctious, perhaps becoming the class clown because somehow they have to act out, to process what they’re feeling.
We see this pattern of failure manifest at the other end of school, too. Fewer males are graduating from high school than ever before. And even in college, here in America, only about 44% of the college population is male. The males that do go to college are less likely than their female counterparts to finish their degree program.
We’re setting them up for failure by putting them in school too soon.
10 Ways to Bring out his Best at School:
- Boys need to move. If he travels in a car or rides the bus to school, he needs to move before he enters the classroom.
- Arrive early and jump rope, play basketball, run around the block.
- Recess. While schools are shortening recess, it’s being shown that academic performance actually increases with more movement.
- Active learning. Lessons designed with an active learning component builds social relationships and increases memory retention.
- Water. Frequent sips of water reduce stress and hydrate the body and brain.
- Relevance. Boys want their learning to matter and they want to know how to apply it and how it will impact the world.
- Allow gross. Boys express themselves with different subject matter. We need to make blood and guts as acceptable as unicorns and flowers.
- Free time. The kind of free time you remember when summer days seemed to stretch endlessly because there was nothing on the schedule. Be sure to schedule in some quiet, free play time every day. He needs time to process his day.
- Nature. Nature is the antidote to all the stress of school, media, family dynamics, and just simply growing up. Time in nature is essential to healthy bodies and minds.
- Teachers. Gently bring them on board. Let them know about resources such as Boys Alive Bring Out Their Best! by Janet Allison and Boys and Girls Learn Differently by Michael Gurian. Both available at Amazon.
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