This winter break, my husband spent several hours each day for 6 days helping our 9-year old son comprehend a book he had to read for class and put it into a 6-page book report format for an assignment due tomorrow. The kid struggled through it and I blamed myself for not being more aggressive in nurturing a love of reading in him. As a kid, I loved reading. Also, during the holidays when visiting friends, I noticed how the girls in various families were crouched over deep into novels while the boys were usually somewhere rough housing or challenging each other before video games. It had me wondering if girls were just naturally more into books than boys. The query popped up in my head as I read a recent piece fellow Washington Times Communities writer Cynthia Lim noting that the key to her daughter earning a near perfect SAT score was her love of reading.
Then, interesting enough this morning, as I dropped off the kids at school, I saw copies of a local parenting news magazine Washington Parent still bound and stacked from the weekend delivery in front of the school entrance. I helped myself to set a copy free because a very relevant cover story caught my eye. Boys v. Girls: Do they learn differently? is about differences in learning abilities based on gender. I dug into it in the school parking lot and read it in its entirety before pulling off.
In the piece, author Jeanette Der Bedrosian points to research which states that girls were leaving boys behind in language, attention and fine motor skills, especially in lower grades; and that boys had higher rates of mood-managing medication and lower SAT participation rates. Of girls, the story notes they have higher rates of anxiety, stress, and depression related to learning and lag behind boys in spatial learning and math. She noted that boys in first grade are more likely to poke the seat in front of them and blurt out answers, possibly contributing to the two times higher rate of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis.
The author sort of hypothesizes that these differences are reasons for more single sex classes cropping up. But then, she noted how some schools, like the all boys Landon school in Montgomery County, Maryland started complex math earlier based on research that says boys are quicker prepared and perhaps more hard-wired to grasp math. Other schools are pulling out the girls for certain classes to make sure they get enhanced instructions in a way that comports to the way research says girls learn best.
It is all interesting really and probably better that parents take the information with a grain of salt because although there are nuances, at the end of the day each individual child usually exhibits characteristics and learns concepts in a matter unique to them. We’ve just got to be attentive, pick up the cues and respond appropriately.
In any event, I’m thinking of picking up at least two of the books recommended in the piece: Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps – And What We Can Do About It by Lisa Eliot; and It’s a boy! Your Son’s Development from Birth to 18 by Michael Thompson and Teresa Barker.
I’ll let you know how it turns out. Have I showed you my stack of books I have still to read and review? OY!