Is He Going 'Back-to-School' in a Boy-Friendly School? -Are you wondering how he is going to do THIS year? Is he in a boy-friendly school? Does he have a boy-friendly teacher?A boy-friendly environment looks different.As academics continue to get "pushed down" into younger and younger grades, boys often suffer. When the early years of play turn too soon to academics - what was once first grade curriculum is now taught in kindergarten - boys struggle to fit into these new constraints and school becomes stress-filled rather than joy-filled. Add to that teachers who are simply overwhelmed by boy energy and you've got trouble."Every behavior is useful in some context."Yet school is often a context that does not fit boys.I've seen first grade boys completely bewildered when asked to follow multiple directions, complete fine-motor tasks, and sit still and be quiet -- all at the same time. It is nearly impossible for them, which leads to frustration (melt-downs and/or tummy aches), stress (acting out / being silly) and generally making everyone around them a little bit crazy. It also leads to the dreaded question, "Shouldn't we be testing him for ADD?"What does a boy-friendly school look like?- MORE 'CHAOS' - Classes are noisier with kids in motion more often. This is not a "sit still and learn" environment - and you don't want it to be!-LESS CLUTTER - Boys tend to be highly visual. Too much visual stimulation can be overwhelming. Boy-friendly classrooms are decorated with simplicity in mind. Rules & assignments are posted visually/graphically rather than just with words. There is more floor space to play, work with clipboards, work on projects etc.- MORE RECESS/MOVEMENT - In addition to recess there are other opportunities to move during the day - most importantly a time to pause during lessons to get up and stretch or 'take a lap' when the wiggles get too overwhelming.How can you create a more boy-friendly experience for your son (at home and school)?- MOVEMENT - Make sure he moves before school. Park several blocks away and walk; promote a jump rope or shooting hoops club before school with parents supervising (teachers will be grateful - and girls will love it, too!).- LITERACY - Reading is the key to success in school and in life. Yet, boys often don't consider themselves readers. Make sure your son's classroom has plenty of boy-friendly reading materials - manuals, catalogs, dictionaries, graphic novels, magazines. Boys tend to read for a purpose and read in shorter bursts. Start collecting materials now. (And make sure he sees the men in his life reading!)- ADVOCATE - Working within a parent organization, you can be the catalyst to begin a conversation at your school about the different ways that boys and girls learn and how to foster a boy-friendly environment (girls benefit, too!) An excellent resource is the book Boys and Girls Learn Differently by Michael Gurian.When teachers and parents understand that boys need a different kind of structure at school and home, then discipline and behavioral issues decline and school enthusiasm increases. The contexts fit and our boys succeed.YOU must be the advocate for your son.
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