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by Elizabeth Cossick, M.Ed.
We’ve all heard someone use this lovely little adage as an excuse for obnoxious behavior: “Boys will be boys.” Cringe! Why would being a boy excuse poor choices?
Well, apparently, there may actually be some truth behind this oft-misused little quote. Research supports that, as a whole, males often have more aggressive temperaments and shorter attention spans than girls. So, while this still doesn’t excuse naughtiness, it might help to explain it.
Below are five other facts about boys that every educator should keep in mind:
1. Multi-tasking. A girl’s corpus callosum (the bundle of nerves that connect the right and left brain hemispheres) is significantly larger than a boy’s. Some researchers think this may explain why females can multi-task better than most males. Boys tend to do better with short lists (1-3 items) of tasks to complete in consecutive order.
2. Just the Facts, Ma’am. On the whole, boys like to memorize facts. If you’re not sure if this is true, just ask any 8-year-old how many different types of dinosaurs there are. In the classroom, harness this strength by providing opportunities for boys to memorize information and then teach the facts to other students. Boys are also often motivated by becoming an “expert” in an area of interest.
3. Need for Speed. Physically, boys often have more energy to burn than girls. Recess in the younger grades is especially important to boys, so don’t take it away as a punishment unless absolutely necessary. (Girls, who tend to be social, also benefit from recess, so this guideline applies across the board.)
4. Show, Don’t Tell. Boys on average tend to be more visual and kinesthetic than most of their female counterparts, so supplement auditory lessons with visuals and manipulatives.
5. Time Out. Boys often need more wait time before answering a question, more processing time when listening to oral instructions, and more completion time to finish an assignment.
Okay, so obviously this list provides generalizations that cannot possibly describe every boy on the planet; personality and disposition may trump any one of these points. Still, it’s wise to note that girls and boys often have different learning needs. So, as you plan your lessons and set up your classroom, just remember that, yes, boys will be boys. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)