If you have a son and daughter, or brothers and sisters, you already know that boys and girls learn differently. The differences in boys’ and girls’ brains result in behavioral distinctions in the classroom. It is this neurobiological difference between the two that gives girls their natural tendency to develop in language and writing, and boys a stronger pull towards movement and visual experiences.
What’s important to know about the way your children learn:
We tend to gravitate toward activities that are easier or more pleasurable. In school, girls and boys engage in activities that align with the way their brains work, but also with the way parents and teachers encourage their participation.
Actual physiological differences between boys’ and girls’ brains decrease significantly over time. The physical differences are much more subtle between two twelfth graders than two first graders. However, this narrowing of differences may not be obvious to you from your child’s performance or preferences in school – depending on their school and home experiences.
Children are particularly vulnerable to stereotypes – whether they are implicit or explicit. In fact, the study referenced below on Women’s Math Performance found that when women are told that men are expected to do better on a particular math test, the women scored lower than the men. When no such statement is made before the test, women performed as well as the men.
As stated in Connie Matthiessen’s greatschools.org article, “Girls’ and boys’ brains: How different are they”: “The more we as parents hear about hard-wiring and biological programming, the less we bother tempering our pink or blue fantasies, and start attributing every skill or defect to innate sex differences. Your son’s a late talker? Don’t worry, he’s a boy. Your daughter is struggling with math? Its okay, she’s very artistic.”
What are a couple of misconceptions that we can dispel?
Stereotyping our children may not just limit them from reaching their full potential; it may distract us from recognizing possible developmental delays that could be addressed by early intervention.
Considering their full K12 and college experience, boys and girls are both capable of excelling in a range of subjects that fit their learning style, interests and commitment.
How can you help your child reach their full potential?
Dr. Gail Gross gives sound advice in her blog on The Huffington Post: “How Boys and Girls Learn Differently”:
Choose toys and activities that encourage girls to use their spatial relationship and manipulation skills
Support study breaks for boys and let them be active in those times
Ease your daughter’s emotional experience in school by helping her talk through her feelings about school and schoolwork
Encourage your son’s interests through reading, drawing, writing, humor, journaling, and other literacy skills
Support your daughter’s participation in sports to build confidence
Give your son a chance to express himself creatively
Provide opportunities for your daughter to engage in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
By helping your children stimulate parts of their brains that they aren’t nurturing on their own, you help them develop well-rounded skills. You can spark their interests in things they may not otherwise explore. Additionally, you’ll give them the skills they need to learn and excel in school and in life.
Music plays a profound role in childhood development. Research has shown that it impacts your child’s general well-being – including better sleep, enhanced exercise performance and improved coordination as well as boosting language development skills.
Learn more about how you can help your child tap into this rich resource throughout their childhood. Continue reading …
Your child’s health and well-being depend on their eating habits that are necessary to nourish their mind and body with a calorically dense and nutrient rich diet. There are many factors that can influence a child’s ability and willingness to eat and drink a variety of foods.
Check out how to promote a healthy diet for your child. Learn more …
To foster normal childhood development, it’s not easy to know how much time is okay for our children to spend on electronic devices or what problems they might experience spending too much time on technology.
Now a UCLA study has found that children who don’t spend time on electronics are better at recognizing human emotions and social cues than children who have spent an excessive amount of time using electronic devices. Understanding subtle non-verbal emotional and facial expressions is difficult to recognize from an electronic device.
You may find this report from the American Academy of Pediatrics helpful in deciding how much time your children should spend on their electronic devices:Learn More …
We know the significant effect parent-child interaction has on childhood development. Now, the results of recent UK studies published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health report that a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development can all be effected by interaction with a child’s pet.
According to the National Center for Health Research, this impact is particularly significant when a child does not have siblings. The research shows that a family pet helps children develop greater empathy, show higher self-esteem, as well as increased participation in social and physical activities.
Furthermore, researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health that social skills, such as effective interaction with their peers and control of their emotions can be as important a childhood indicator of future success and happiness as academic performance. A child’s social relationships are the foundation of their overall development. These social skills influence a child’s health and well-being for their entire life.
The studies on childhood pet interaction and social development show an increase in social skills; greater social networking; and more effective social interaction behavior. While researchers feel that more work needs to be done to fully understand the cause and effect relationships between children and their pets, it seems pretty clear that pets can benefit our children in a variety of important ways.
As further research clarifies specific childhood health benefits from pet ownership, this information could be helpful in updating policies that might affect our children, such as regulations for daycare centers, schools and other places where animals are discouraged, but could be beneficial to our kids.