Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Why girls are making the grade

I sit with my son as he does his homework. I love watching him write the letters in his weekly sight words (he has beautiful handwriting) and the way he sticks out his tongue as he counts objects in sets. It takes a lot of focus on his part and on mine, too. Because if I don't sit there with him, he is not going to do it on his own. From his perspective, there are Legos to play with and adventures to be had; homework gets in the way.

I am so proud of him when he plows through it and gets it all done. Especially since reading that girls tend to get better grades than boys - and homework plays a big role in that.

There's a mix of issues going on here: For starters, girls are much better at what the authors in the article above call "self-regulation." Females mature a little faster than boys in areas of organization, goal planning and paying attention to directions. Boys will eventually catch up to girls in this area, but not until everyone is well out of middle school. By that point, it can be difficult to break bad organizational habits and teach new ones.

Then there is the issue of homework being such a large part of an overall grade. Even when I was in school, the nuns made sure we knew our grade breakdown: Part of it was tests, a bulk of it was homework and then there was a project portion.

So, those boys who are still learning how to self-regulate may forget their homework more often than girls or daydream in class and miss the assignment. That forgetfulness may result in a 0 score, which brings their grades down. So, how do we fix this?

I mentioned the other day about teaching myself to focus, using the same techniques I use with my son. But I also need to consider balancing his time out: Once he is done with his homework he can have free play time or Calvinball time or whatever he needs to counteract all that time he just spent writing the word "metropolis" over and over again.

But that's only going to take us so far. So, do you have any tips to help with the gender divide in getting homework done? What techniques do you use with your daughter that you don't use with your son? Please share them with me in the comments.

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