When I read the article “Why Schools Are Failing Our Boys” in the Washington Post I thought about the many conversations I have had with parents of boys. I think the writers feeling echo my own. Boys are having trouble in school because they need to sit still and learn.
Last year I received a few emails about behavioral concerns in the classroom from my child’s teacher. Was it because there were not enough opportunities to move and get the energy out? At the time, I was in shock. All I could think about was how could MY child be having trouble? And I think I actually took this personally. My children are a reflection of me, right? But after more research and experience with busy boys, I realized that most boys are loud. Boys have impulse control issues. They like to entertain their buddies, often by making gross biological noises. Boys wrestle, play with sticks, and they work it out, usually with less drama than girls. The stereotypes that accompany boys are real.
Last year our school offered BOKS-Build Our Kids Success. The tagline for BOKS is “BOKS helps kids kickstart their brains.” It is a program whose goal is to get kids moving in order to improve learning. This movement was designed to help them in school. How you might ask? Exercise helps with focus. Running, jumping, dancing, etc. release those happy hormones. Happy kids want to learn. I loved this program, but it did not continue at our school. One of the reasons I am so disappointed about the loss of BOKS is because our school performance was less than perfect. Efforts to help our kids shifted away from this powerful program. And I blame myself for not getting more involved with my children’s school to bring back BOKS.
I have read countless arguments about the expectations of kids in schools. Educators are under a lot of pressure to get kids to perform. But why are we taking away recess? Why can’t we endorse BOKS or programs like it as a way to help all of our kids in schools? Can we help teachers be proud of the ways they incorporate movement into their classroom lessons instead of pretending it isn’t necessary?
On snowy days my kids have played “Just Dance” at school. Initially, I was horrified because I am a huge advocate of limiting screen time. But when I realized this might be their only chance at movement during a 6 hour school day, I changed my mind. Creativity in the classroom takes on many forms. Teachers know their students need exercise and movement to help their brains.
As the mother of a boy, I recognize the educational shifts noted in this piece has more of an impact on my son than my daughter. Does that sounds sexist? If it does, that us not my intent. Boys need more activity and that is not just a stereotype. Boys are more likely to act out in class out of a need to move. Lack of exercise causes them to be more distractible. But the truth is that both boys AND girls will perform better in school if we embrace movement. Let’s back our educational administrators, support our teachers, and find a way to get more movement back into schools so our kids can succeed.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear about them.