Boys learn differently than girls. There is tons of research to back this up. I have linked a video that sums up the idea really well, and there is much truth to the theory.
While I agree with the premise that schools need to change the way they do things, I think it starts far before the little guys see the inside of a classroom. Let me explain…
I started homeschooling in 1997.
From the beginning, our plan had been to send the kids to Catholic schools, K-12. That was my husband’s experience, and it sounded good to me. All was moving along until we moved to Maine where the Catholic school options were not located near our house. We tried to make it work, but I was spending most of my day in the car. I had pretty early readers (read to your kids, often) and I wasn’t sure that the schools I had access to were the best options for my kids. But I like being in charge, so that might have been the underlying issue…don’t judge.
I had been watching my brother and his wife start their homeschooling program with their growing family. I was unsure if I was going to be happy with the plan, but, after much discernment and support from my husband, decided to try it. In the back of my mind, I knew we could always return to the school so I felt comfortable knowing I had a safety net.
As I started schooling my two oldest, it quickly became apparent that my third was chomping at the bit to get started. She wanted to do everything her older sister did, and this was no exception. Actually, she wanted to be the older sister, but that’s a topic for another post.
We finished year one and it was a huge success. Year two went just as well.
As I began our third year, Keegan was approaching preschool age. My plan was to start him with a two-hour “schedule” to introduce him to the idea.
On our first day, he lasted about four minutes. Oh boy.
I tried a few different things. Sitting him next to his big brother, his idol. He might have made it seven minutes that day. I was baffled. How could he not be interested in reading and numbers? His older siblings were thriving!
Keep in mind, I was still in the middle of realizing that I had to parent him differently. I decided, for the moment, to give him a hiatus from the rigors of his 7-minutes-of-hell-preschool-program that I was subjecting him to.
“Go play, Keegan.”
We tried again when he was four. He was able to go for a solid 20 minutes. Progress! It was no time at all before he was sitting for… 21 minutes. I knew what I had to do and it was going to be exhausting. So I got started. I built his day into manageable blocks with playtime in between. I learned how he learned. I am not a teacher by trade, but I am his mother. Who else knows him better?
Keegan was clearly not only a different powerhouse of energy, he was a very different learner and it was up to me to figure it out. Would it have been easier to put him on the school bus? Absolutely.
Please note, this is NOT a diss to sending your kids to school, I am very well aware that homeschooling is not for everyone. Equally, there are many, MANY great teachers out there willing to give their days to educate kids for subpar salaries. My daughter is one of them. I admire them all.
My point is that you need to take the time to understand and train your child to be a learner. While I started out expecting Keegan to fall in line behind his older siblings, I clearly was the one who needed to adjust. Keegan deserved that from me. As he grew, so did his attention span and his ability to sit still. If I were to put him in a kindergarten class and expect him to sit still, he would’ve had a very difficult time. We made sure he was involved in sports, but they came second to his education. If he did poorly at school, he had to call his coach and tell him he wouldn’t be at practice that evening (he learned pretty quickly not to let that happen again).
Time moved on and Keegan continued to grow and mature. With much love and guidance, he figured out his strengths. He finished homeschooling and went on to graduate high school with honors. He learned about structure and thrived when he knew the expectations placed on him. Keegan will be in his third year at the United States Military Academy at West Point in the fall.
Yes, boys do learn differently than girls. but not all girls want to sit at a desk either. It is not solely up to the schools to figure out what the child needs. That, I believe, should begin at home with the parents. After all, we were the first ones to get to know them.