Gender Gap: Why Boys Can't Keep Up (page 2)

Gender Gap: Why Boys Can

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Updated on Jan 5, 2011

Whitmire advises that parents keep an eye on their son’s attitudes and school performance to identify trouble early on. “Any boy who doesn’t take an interest in reading in early elementary school or who has very limited writing skills,” he says, may be in trouble. What then? Here are three tips to help parents get their sons on track:

  • Make reading and writing guy-friendly. “Things that young boys like to read about may not be considered literature by teachers,” says Whitmire, so make sure that boys get plenty of reading material that appeals to them, from sports magazines to sci-fi adventures. The same goes for writing. “A lot of teachers won’t let boys write about intergalactic space wars, which is what they really care about,” says Whitmire. Provide a space at home for boys to pursue their imaginations, and make sure that they’re able to express themselves through writing at school.
  • Rep for recess. Due to increasing academic demands on students and schools, recess has gone the way of the dodo in many districts. However, research shows that young students benefit academically, as well as physically and behaviorally, when they get breaks to blow off steam on the playground. If recess is endangered at your school, express your concerns to the administration and band together with like-minded parents to bring back breaks in the school day.
  • Tap into private tutoring. Some research has shown that boys benefit from a heavy phonics approach, so if they’re not getting enough instruction in school, it might be beneficial to line up more help on the side. The same goes for elementary school, when the focus in the classroom shifts from reading fluency to reading comprehension and literary analysis. For boys that may still be getting comfortable with reading, ongoing literacy tutoring could provide a boost.

If you’ve tried these tactics and your son is still struggling to succeed, it may be time to take more drastic action. “Ask for another teacher, complain to the administration, or change schools,” says Whitmire. “It’s very hard to play catch-up.”

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