Guest Blogger Stephanie Patterson, LMFT reviews the book “The Mind of Boys”:
Gurian and Stevens spell out what is happening in their book titled The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life.
Here are some bits of information I gleaned from the book:
For those who are suspicious of brain-based differences in gender, listen up. Brain imaging shows structural and functional differences between a boy brain and a girl brain. These differences can be seen as young as 1 day old.
In general, boy brains need more time to develop, are affected more negatively by stress, and need movement to learn.
Boys learn best when they are allowed to focus for long periods of time on one task. They learn through hands-on experience. Their brains are like lists, bullet points, and categorization with substrata. They take up space and make messes when they learn. Boy brains go into rest periods, were they nod off or space out. Girl brains don’t do this, which is probably why men are always wondering when they’ll catch a break from the women in their lives…. I guess never!
If you haven’t noticed, there is not much about the male brain that fits into the typical classroom experience. As a result boys comprise 80% of behavioral problems in schools, 70% of children diagnosed with a learning disability, and 80% of children on Ritalin. Eighty per cent of high school dropouts are boys. There is obviously a mismatch between boys and our current school system.
What can we do?
There are some tricks and tips to help a boy fit into the current school system such as:
– Make sure the boy is listening to verbal directions by pairing eye contact, a touch on the arm, and having the boy repeat back the instructions.
Adjust the space for more room.
-Allow the boys to wiggle while they work.
Allow 60 seconds or more for transitions between activities.
– Teach the boy to repeat verbal instructions to himself at least 3 times. For example, “Put my paper away in the cubbie. Put my paper away in the cubbie. Put my paper away in the cubbie."
-Take stretch or dance breaks.
– Minimize screen time.
-Read books together.
– Enlist the help of a team. Call on extended family members-even via Skype or FaceTime, friends, or neighbors to help mentor boys on a specific subject. Boys need someone to help them follow through and encourage them. They need a team.
Schools can also be trained in understanding male development and make adjustments to the school such as gender specific classes-which have proven to be highly successful, male mentoring, and allowing for more physical movement.
If you have a male family member or student who struggles in or is bored in school, rather than ask "What’s wrong with this boy,” try asking “What need is unfulfilled here?” You will be surprised by the depth of learning that can come out of a boy who is allowed to learn the way nature made him.
Stephanie Patterson, MS, LMFT