Do boys learn in a different way to girls?

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Juggle Street at 2/10/2020

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Since the 1990s, research has consistently shown boys tend to score below girls in areas such as literacy, science and mathematics. Asking a little boy what his favourite subject is at school may very well yield an unexpected answer like 'football', 'soccer' or even 'recess'. For parents, this can be concerning.

The truth is, the way in which girls and boys learn is vastly different. From the biological to the behavioural, traditional classrooms are not the ideal environment for young boys. However, by working with teachers and home tutors, it is possible to learn more about the different ways in which boys and girls learn and what you can do to support them in their studies.

Early development in males vs females

Before we get into how boys learn in a different way to girls, it's reassuring to know it partly comes down to biology. Brain scans show that a larger portion of the female brain is devoted to verbal functions. At the same time, the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory storage, develops earlier in girls than boys. Consequently, girls tend to have an easier time with reading, vocabulary and writing.

The difference between girls and boys is also chemicals. It turns out boys have less calm-promoting hormones (serotonin and oxytocin), making them more likely to get distracted, fidget and make noise.

How boys learn differently to girls

In contrast to girls, a larger part of boys' brains are dedicated to spatial functioning. This means the majority of young boys are stimulated by movement and respond well to a kinesthetic learning style which includes hands-on activities such as experiments and simulations. Considering this is the case, it's no wonder so many are falling behind!

On the other hand, girls do their best when educators take into account their need to verbally express themselves. Group projects combined with strong mentoring and learning, not just the 'how' but the 'why' are all ways to help young girls to thrive academically.

What you can do about it

As a parent, there are many things you can do along with teachers and home tutors to help your little ones thrive. For boys, gamification, experiments and multi-media assignments are all great examples of how to keep them more engaged. Other tips include taking the learning outside and making use of visual aids— for example, storyboarding to supplement reading and writing practice. For girls, having a strong role model and encouraging collaboration can make a big difference in engagement.

Additionally, hiring a home tutor that can individually focus on your children's needs will give you better insight into their strengths, learning styles and where they are falling behind.

Despite the fact that boys learn in a different way to girls, there's plenty you can do to support them in their educational journey. After all, there is very little difference between what boys and girls can learn. If you feel your child is struggling or disengaged at school, it may be a good idea to discuss this topic with your Juggle Street home tutor.