Thursday, 22 March 2012

‘Getting it right for boys’

The other day I got a surprise call from the headquarters of the local Children’s Centres. I was persuaded to take part into this special event in Loughborough to hear about boys’ development. First I was very reluctant since I had other things to do on that day. However, they sent me a leaflet by e-mail and I realized that this was about how boys’ learn in general. I thought this could be useful later and also help in understanding men in general. Archaeologist Husband could not make it but made it clear I should go and tell him afterwards what it was all about.

The talk was given by Neil Farmer who has written a book about the subject. He argued that boys develop later than girls during their early years and this should be taken into consideration when planning early education. After all, the preschool starts at three in UK and the reception classes take the children in at four. In Finland the ages are six and seven respectively and the slower developing children who have no special learning difficulties normally have caught up by then. In addition, in special cases a child can be considered especially mature or immature for learning and can start at a proper school a year earlier or later, at six or eight.

Neil Farmer told us how the children have to develop their general bodily coordination and balance in order to be able to sit straight in one place on a chair without twitching and moving around. Boys and girls have different brain chemistry, which makes girls more controlled and with a longer attention span, Boys need more stimulus and their Reticular Activating System gets overloaded much more easily and thus even as adults men can hear and remember less instructions without their brain becoming jammed. Explains why women are better in multitasking...

This all means that like Number One Son some boys do not appreciate story time or sing-a-longs but prefer to climb the furniture and play with cars. This was great news for me and Archaeologist Husband. This meant that our pride and joy was not simply misbehaving in front of the nice ladies who want to sing ‘Old McDonald had a farm’ or read The very hungry caterpillar and make children to sit down. When Number One Son is giving a tantrum and refusing to sit down in a circle, he is just conforming to a common male behaviour pattern that is totally natural. His eagerness to show ‘rigid play patterns’ with toy cars and trains as the female speech therapist put it in her assessment may be simply part of behaviour pattern recognized by specialists as a way small boys behave. All the time he is climbing frantically as a small monkey he is just learning his way!

Check Neil Farmer’s book Getting it right for boys in Amazon

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