Thursday, August 22, 2013

As Parents, We are Apart of The Problem

The more I study girls and boys I realize just how different they are to one another. Being a mother of 3 boys; two in which I gave birth too and one who joined our family six years ago, I know just how different they truly are.

I picked up a book just a couple months ago that I decided to start reading recently, 'Boys Adrift' The five factors driving the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men. Hhhhmm I must say - quite interesting - so far. I am not only learning a lot about boys but girls as well. Wow, we are soooo different.

Here are a few blurbs I have typed up for all you mommies to read; from the book:

In 2007, a distinguished team of twelve neuroscientists, based primarily at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, published a remarkable account of the development of the human brain. Since the early 1990's, these investigators have been doing MRI scans on the brains of young children.

Among the most striking findings in the report are the differences in the developmental trajectories of girls compared with boys. The researchers found that the various regions of the brain develop in a different sequence and tempo in girls compared to boys. In some regions in the brain, such as the parietal gray matter- the region of the brain most involved with integrating information from different sensory modalities- girls and boys develop along similar trajectories, but the pace of the girls and boys development is roughly two years ahead of the boys'. In yet other regions, such as occipital gray matter-visual cortex-the trajectories of brain development are remarkably different, with no overlap between girls and boys. In this region of the brain, girls between six and ten years of age show rapid development, while boys in the same age group do not. After fourteen years of age this area begins to diminish slightly in girls-the amount of brain tissue in this region actually shrinks in girls over fourteen-while in boys over fourteen this area is growing at a rapid pace.
These studies do not mean that boys are smarter than girls or girls are smarter than boys. It just means that girls and boys are different. Period.

Boys will always be boys!

Teaching a three-and-a half-year-old boy can be frustrating both for the parent / teacher and child. We're asking that child to do something his brain is just not ready to do. Not in all cases. Timing is everything, in education as in many other fields. It's not enough to teach well. We have to teach well to kids who are ready to learn, kids who are developmentally "ripe" for learning. Asking five-year-old boys to learn to read-when they'd rather be running around or playing games-may be the worst possible introduction to school, at least for some boys.

Today, kindergarten children are expected to do what first-graders were expected to do thirty years ago; a kindergarten where children are expected to sit for hours (full day now) doing paper-and-pencil exercises. Usually they are separated into two groups. One with children who are ready to learn and willing to read and write: mostly girls, one or two boys. The other group: children who are not so ready to learn. And that group will have mostly boys.
Now, there is ONE thing boys and girls are equally good at: figuring out who's in the Dumb Group. Within a few months the children in the Dumb Group are aware of their inferior status, and they don't like it. I am not saying we see this as the 'Dumb Group' but they DO!

Teachers intentions are good. But most five year olds are keenly aware of their status in the eyes of the adults. They will even make mention that the teacher likes the children in the "other" group more. And these boys are likely to go to school the following year with a negative attitude. But of course, wouldn't you?

For many boys, there's a huge difference in readiness to learn between age five and age seven-just as there's a huge difference in readiness for a girl between three and five. It's just the way their developed.

There are problems with girls too but the problems are different from those of boys.

Most five year old girls are able to do what the teacher needs them to do. They can sit still. They can be quit for a whole few minutes without interrupting or jumping up and down. They are more likely to possess the fine motor skills required to write the letters of the alphabet legibly and neatly.

Another amazing thing I read in this book:
Boys who have been deprived of time outdoors, interacting with the real world rather than with computers and video games, sometimes have trouble grasping concepts that seem simple to us. Many of these boys grow up to never know how to fix a car, work on a fuel pump or even hook up a garden hose. For a whole generation of kids, direct experiences in the backyard, in the tool shed, in the fields and woods, has been replaced by indirect learning, through computers. These young people are smart, these young people are smart, they grew up with computers, they were supposed to be superior-but now we know something's missing.

Now if you ask me, the biggest problem we have right now in our house hold, as parents, are computers and gadgets. Yup that's right. We've got to keep it to a limit ladies. I had to seriously put my foot down with my 5 year old. If it was up to him, he would play 10 hours a day. I set a schedule of twice a week for ONE hour. The rest of his time will be spent playing, reading, painting, coloring, going outside, sports etc. There was so much I got as a child- out of going outside and playing in the dirt, climbing trees, spending time with nature! Many of these kids have zero social skills. Why is that? Well, I don't think I need to get into that after reading this post.
Let's pull up our mommy pants and start guiding our children NOT directing them. Unfortunately, their teachers do enough directing. It's time to GUIDE!

If you are a mother to a girl, there is tons of information online on how girls think and are naturally programmed. If you are a mommy to boys, same thing.
These little guys / girls are our future and we've got to do our best. Or at least strive for it...

Love, Lizzy

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