What Does This Mean for Your Child?First and foremost, parents should take great care to address their sons’ specific educational needs. Particularly when it comes to reading and writing, boys often require more help than girls. If this help is not forthcoming, boys are far more likely to become frustrated and give up. Here are some ways to help your son gain strong literacy skills:
- Look for signs of early trouble: Young boys who don’t take an early interest in reading or who have limited writing skills are more likely to struggle.
- Provide appealing reading material: Particularly early on, boys should read anything that strikes their fancy – as long as your son reads something, you’re doing a good job. For more on getting boys to read, check out our recent “Read This, Not That” post.
- Encourage imagination: Young boys often have very fertile imaginations; sadly, your average school teacher tends to discourage boys from writing about alien attacks and space monsters. Allow and encourage boys to write imaginative tales; such creative writing activities will help to boost literacy skills.
- Overcome stereotypes: As boys grow older, they tend to view education through the lens of society’s gender stereotypes – reading, learning, and doing well in school become “girly” or “wimpy”. Providing strong male role models who demonstrate good intellectual habits can go a long way towards keeping boys interested in education.
- Consider ongoing literacy tutoring: Boys tend to do better with a phonics-heavy approach that is rarely emphasized in the classroom. Moreover, boys often struggle in elementary school when the focus shifts from reading fluency to reading comprehension – extra help at this point can stave off years of academic frustration.
- Boys should apply to selective private schools: Private schools can legally use gender as a factor in admissions; as a result, many selective private schools are more likely to admit a less qualified male over a better qualified female. Male applicants at such schools will likely have a slightly better chance of admission.
- Girls need to up their games: Female applicants at selective private schools will face slightly higher hurdles than their male counterparts; thus it becomes all the more imperative that female students present the strongest possible applications. The competition is stiffer, so stellar grades and test scores are of the utmost importance. And for female Asian students, the competition may be even worse – for more, check out our article about the Asian-American bias in college admissions.