Anyone that has spent any significant amount of time with the opposite sex recognizes that the brains of each gender are wired differently. While each child has a unique pattern for learning, generally, boys seem better adept to learn through graphics, pictures and physical movements in an effort to grasp concepts. Alternatively, girls seem to benefit greatly when they can communicate problem-solving options when working in unison to find a solution.
Scientifically, brain scans can show specifically what areas of the brain are being affected during every learning process. Overall, young boys tend to use specific areas of the brain including their cerebral cortex (involving language, thought, tension and memory) to use verbal function for learning. The hippocampus (a brain region crucial for storing verbal memory) tends to develop much earlier in girls. Females tend to have a much larger hippocampus compared to males, increasing the impact of their writing and vocabulary abilities.
Alternatively, the activity of a boy’s brain during learning tends to focus mainly on mechanical and spatial functioning. This indicates that boys have a tendency to learn using pictures and movement instead of words alone. Research indicates that boys allowed to draw pictures or use storyboards are better able to add more detail and description in their writing.
There are significant biochemical differences between girls and boys. Girls have far more oxytocin and serotonin, which are significant hormones playing crucial roles in producing a calming sensation. Alternatively, without the high level of these hormones, younger boys tend to act impulsively or fidget when attempting to stay still. Teachers often describe the behavior of a boy as being defiant when he continuously squirms in his chair. However, his fidgeting actions are significant to his learning process.
How to Help a Boy Learn
Learning facilities, teachers and parents can all work together to help maximize the educational benefits of a young boy during his development years. Specific ways anyone can help a boy learn include:
• Encourage Movement – Teachers should allow and encourage children, especially boys, to move about when working, or learning. This includes doodling, standing, leg tapping, squirming, and other movements when the child is taking a test, writing or reading. Even though these activities appear as distractions, they can offer significant assistance to help boy’s learn.
• Hold the Child Back – In many cases, placing a child in school at too young an age can cause significant learning disabilities down the road. This is because the requirements of children in kindergarten are far more intense and academic than from just a few decades ago. The learning levels of what were once expected of six-year-olds are now asked of five-year-olds. Sometimes delaying kindergarten admittance to boys with autumn birthdays can be beneficial.
• Outdoor Exercise – Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, many new schools are constructed without playgrounds. However, it is essential that boys are provided unstructured outdoor playtime at school. Outdoor recess has been shown to be extremely beneficial, especially to boys, to heighten their learning experience.
How to Help a Girl Learn
Girls should be encouraged to participate in activities and play with toys that provide them the opportunity to use manipulation skills and develop better spatial relationships.
Other ways to help a girl learn include:
• Express Feelings – A young girl should be able to express her feelings concerning school problems and schoolwork. Every effort should be taken to avoid subverting her inner feelings and the need of approval of others to minimize self-esteem problems.
• Sports Participation – The learning process for girls can be heightened through sports participation. In fact, participation alone is enough to assist her in building greater self-confidence.
It is essential that teachers and parents understand and take advantage of the different learning styles of girls and boys, which tend to be more pronounced during the early years. Because of that, every effort should be taken during this time to create the opportune learning environment, designed to meet the specific needs of both genders.