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The Learning Curve for Boys: Is it Different?

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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.

Seriously, knowing your child’s learning style will make all the difference in how they retain information.

The following information uncovers some key insights into boys and how they learn:

5 Unexpected Ways Boys 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.”
Best ways to teach active little boys


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.
How Boys Learn

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.

Boy Learning Fun:

Need some tried and true educational resources that your boys are sure to lap up?  Here are a few things that I have pulled together just for those “typical boys” in my house!

Recommended Resources:

I recommend the following additional reading resources to help you understand your boy’s brain more!

Boy Parenting Tips for Mom:

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How Boys Learn: The Learning Curve is different for boys than girls - tips to help you succeed in educating your male child!

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Lisa Rios

Thursday 3rd of March 2016

I very much agree that there is a huge difference in the way boys & girls learn and the way they adopt to learning something new. These are some great information on the learning patterns of boys, so it might help someone know much better.

Bites for Babies

Wednesday 2nd of March 2016

AS a teacher, I can say that this is very accurate. Although there are always exceptions to the rules, all of these seem to apply to the boys in my class!

Marielle Altenor

Wednesday 2nd of March 2016

This is quite interesting. For years I only had a boy but now I have a little girl. I wonder how different the two will be.


Wednesday 2nd of March 2016

Oooo now this is pretty interesting! I don't have a boy, only a little girl, but year, makes total sense that girls and boys lean differently

Shaney Vijendranath (youbabyandi)

Wednesday 2nd of March 2016

This post is giving me a glimpse of the future. My son is only 5 months old but I can already see his personality. Very different compared to my daughter.