It is strange, but patently true, that young boys often learn best while upside down.
Or if they aren’t upside down, they often need to be moving, or at least doing something with their hands. Their proprioceptive, vestibular, and optical systems need tremendous amounts of movement in order to develop optimally for concentrated near work and fine-motor work like writing.
Unfortunately, this is not widely known beyond those specialists who study these matters. Most schools do not recognize these realities (there are wonderful exceptions!) and so they can be difficult places for boys in the early grades, especially, as well as for some girls (girls in general have some, but not all, of the same needs at this age). So when a family leaves normative schooling for homeschooling, often parents will be surprised and confused by how their boys’ apparent learning needs differ from their own received knowledge about how to teach children.
Ivana Greco draws on various perspectives in teasing out this problem and its potential solutions for homeschoolers in her piece today at the Institute for Family Studies. A taste:
It is no secret that boys have been falling behind girls in school for years. Earlier this month, the American Psychological Association released a report by its Task Force on Boys in School. The report found: “At school, by almost every metric, boys of all ages are doing worse than girls.” It noted boys “are disciplined and diagnosed with learning disabilities at higher rates, their grades and test scores are lower, and they’re less likely to graduate from high school.”
Indeed, the challenges faced by boys in school are so serious that Richard Reeves, a senior fellow at Brookings, has proposed delaying boys’ entry to kindergarten by a year. This process, sometimes called “redshirting,” has become increasingly common. Waiting until boys are older to enroll them in kindergarten is beneficial, according to Reeves, because “boys mature later than girls.”
Is part of the problem faced by boys not precisely maturity, but rather the inability of most schools to accommodate little boys’ need to run, skip, and climb? As Faith points out, many of these wiggly children are equally able to learn, including by tackling complex subjects. They don’t lag in their ability to comprehend—rather, they lag in their ability to stay seated at a desk.
Ivana practiced family law before resigning her job and starting to homeschool during the pandemic. For more of her insights about this impossible work/life juggle that many mothers face, and why homemakers are indispensable for societal flourishing, read her recent essay “A Home Security System” at The American Compass. And be sure to check out her recent post here at the Arena about her book-in-progress about homemaking.
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