Boys will be boys
My friend, Michele, keeps crabbing at me to write about how boys need to move and how…here it goes…schools try to turn our boys into girls. I’ve seen it happen for years and just came to a point of acceptance. I figured, why write about something that can’t be changed. Then, I read Time Magazine’s special edition, “The Science of Childhood”.
An entire article highlighted facts and studies that prove our boys indeed need to move in order to learn. It was acknowledged how as a country, we’ve tried to increase the academic expectations of all students and with that, our boys have been forced to sit in chairs for long periods of time and force-fed a diet of lumpy lectures that end up choking them and ultimately stunting their academic health.
A study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that the more time boys in first grade spent sitting and the less time they spent being physically active, the fewer gains they made in reading in the two following years.
The Time Magazine article went on to explain that a lot of sedentary time negatively impacted boys in math as well as reading. Here’s the clencher…sedantary time had little or no effect on girls.
Michele, the mother of two young boys is right to be bugging me about this. I’m the mother of only one son and two daughters, but Nathan was content to be sedentary. He was one of those little boys who retreated when upset or pressured. Most boys are the other way around, as my vivacious grandson, Landon has shown me. He’s a typical seven-year-old who needs to move all the time. He’s as sharp as a tack but he just isn’t interested in reading and writing. To him, there are a lot of more interesting things that grab his attention. Like science and animals and bugs. He asks deep questions and ponders many important subjects, yet he’s still marked down in school for his behavior. He’s always out of his seat and interested in somebody else’s business.
Is this something he should be punished for? Does this mean he isn’t smart or socially acceptable or a “bad” boy? To me, no, it doesn’t mean that, and I’m sure Michele and most people would agree with me. Does he need to learn to mind his own business? Yes. Does he eventually need to learn to sit for longer periods of time? Yes. Just not today. He’s only seven years old.
I remember my first year teaching in 1983. Back then, boys were expected to be busier than girls. We learned about this in college and managed our classrooms around this information. I’ll never forget a boy named Scott who couldn’t seem to sit still. This was before wiggle seats, fidgets, and even the diagnosis of ADHD. I asked him what would help him learn and he turned dark brown eyes up to me and said, “I like to stand up.”
I let him stand.
That was a long time ago, and boy, times have changed! But the connection between exercise and optimal learning is not new, whether the child is a boy or a girl. What I can’t understand is why we just accept this lumpy bowl of nonsensical oatmeal and cram it down our precious boys’ throats. It certainly can’t taste well on the receiving end.
So, what do we do? For starters, if you have a boy who’s experiencing something similar to this, stand up and roar if you have to. Make changes in your son’s schooling situation, even if it means changing classrooms, changing schools, or homeschooling.
Put yourself in that little boy’s chair…imagine what it’s like trying to hold still when you just can’t. This doesn’t mean your son has ADHD or anything is wrong with him. It doesn’t mean he needs medication. It doesn’t mean he’s dumb or dyslexic or autistic. The facts back it up. He’s just a little boy, and he needs to move.
Teachers, get those kids out of their seats. Let your boys (and girls) run some laps or do jumping jacks. Let them get up and move in an organized fashion. It will save you time in the long run and save our boys. Don’t you think they’re worth it?
To your child’s success,