Studies show there are real differences between boys and girls in terms of brain chemistry, maturation and how they learn best. Technologies such as PET scans and MRIs have already found “at least 100 differences in male and female brains,” and there are likely more discoveries to come.
The following information uncovers some key insights into boys and how they learn:
Brain-based research shows that there are major differences between boys and girls in terms of reasoning and brain development, which leads to differences in general understanding of concepts as well as test-taking abilities.
- Boys “tend toward symbolic texts, diagrams, and graphs” that “stimulate the right hemisphere, which is where many boys are more developed.”
- They typically use abstract and deductive reasoning to reach conclusions, meaning that they are able to learn a general concept and then apply that concept to other individual cases.
- Boys’ proficiency in deductive reasoning leads to greater success on multiple choice tests, particularly those where answering questions quickly is an advantage, like the SAT.
In order to learn most effectively, boys must stay active, engaged and motivated.
- Staying active is an integral piece of effective learning for boys. “Movement seems to help boys not only stimulate their brains, but also manage and relieve impulsive behavior.”
- Movement increases blood flow to the limbic region of the brain, allowing boys to process emotions and reduce stress.
- “Physical exercise is essential for… boys. It helps calm them, helps them sleep at night, and helps them perform learning tasks.”
A highly structured and action-packed day keeps boys’ minds alert and active.
- Daily structure helps stimulate motivation, goal-orientation and time management skills. In fact, the highly structured, full-day schedules of top boarding schools and military academies can be particularly beneficial
- Task-oriented work and active interaction with learning materials increase the amount of information absorbed by boys’ brains.
- A structured plan gives a boy’s brain a direct route to a goal, managing stimulation from other sources and increasing focus.
- Calendars can be useful tools for boys since they provide visual and spatial representations of what they need to accomplish and how much time they have to complete the task.
Boys tend to get bored more easily than girls.
- The male brain literally requires a “recharge” between tasks, meaning that the brain goes into a rest state before moving on to something new.
- “Boys require more and varying stimulants to keep them attentive” and to decrease the length of time that the brain is at rest.
- Focusing on a goal maintains boys’ concentration and paves the way for success both in school and in life beyond the classroom.
Both boys and girls can benefit from working on teams through learning about cooperation and teamwork.
- Boys differ from girls because they tend to “[pick] leaders quickly and [focus] right away on goal orientation.”
- When supervised carefully, teams can be used to promote healthy competition, which often serves as strong motivation for boys to learn and succeed.
- “Boys tend to work out codes among themselves and within their own cognitive processes, and rely on coded language to communicate,” which strengthens the bond within a team, while increasing learning through the use of symbolism and abstract thinking.
Boys Do Learn Differently
In summary, boys follow a unique learning curve, one that can be significantly enhanced in an environment that appreciates the differences between genders. A setting that recognizes the cognitive, emotional and social processes which motivate boys to reach their full potential is the optimal learning environment for boys.
I recommend the following additional reading resources to help you understand your boy’s brain more!
- The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons From Falling Behind in School and Life
- Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons
- Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men
For Boy fun, education ideas, and more be sure to follow my Boy Stuff for Boy Moms Pinterest Board!