Boys are often framed as intense and insensitive, but we know that boys are relational by nature. We realize that a safe, supportive environment will encourage them to explore and share their feelings, that gentle, structured competition motivates many boys, and that they appreciate clear boundaries and expectations.
Parents and teachers can partner together to cultivate boys’ academic skills, emotional intelligence, social awareness, artistic and athletic prowess, and overall well-being to help set them on a path to positive, productive lives.
The stereotypical vision of a classroom of boys usually involves boundless energy, perpetual movement, and a cacophony of voices all trying to be heard at the same time. While a particular topic or subject may indeed elicit this excitement, some boys are reserved and introspective and prefer quiet reflection over boisterous response. These students may have a strong desire to share their ideas, but are uncomfortable in social settings where they feel their responses will be scrutinized.
Here are some ways parents and teachers can encourage the quiet or reserved boy:
• Getting to know him: Ask him questions. Build a rapport. Find ways to connect with him so he feels comfortable and safe participating in conversations. Use what you learn to find activities that enhance his talents and interests.
• Allowing time for a response: There is a tendency to fill empty space with words, but the reflective boy uses time to gather his thoughts. Be patient and make sure that he understands that you value his response, even if it takes extra time.
• Avoiding placing him in embarrassing situations – initially: While we want to equip our boys to be resilient in various social situations, be careful not to thrust him into uncomfortable or stressful settings. Boost your son’s confidence by finding activities that highlight his talents and allow him to experience success.
While some boys need time for renewal and reflection, others require stimulation and challenge. These accelerated learners either quickly grasp a particular topic or bring an existing level of knowledge to the discussion.
Here are some ways to provide meaningful learning for accelerated learners:
• Bring him into the process: Ask him what he likes to study, what parts of a topic he finds intriguing, and what questions he has after a lesson. Take time to explore with him further.
• Dig deeper: If your son is learning about fractions, or the Civil War, or chemical bonds at school, school, find ways for him to branch out into deeper or more complex skills on the same topics. Look for places in the community, including historical sites and museums, where the concept of interest is being used or lived out.
• Allow him to become a peer coach: For boys who are comfortable sharing their knowledge, mentoring or peer coaching can be a great way to solidify their understanding, as well as to build their communication and collaboration skills.
While there is no one kind of boy, no one kind of learner, no one-size-fits-all approach to teaching and mentoring our sons, acknowledging and appreciating every boy for who he is and who he wants to be will help ensure lifelong learners.
Best for Boys Speaker Series
Achieving Success Through Failure: Paul Assaiante
Saturday, March 17, 9-10:30 a.m.
Paul Assaiante, the winningest coach in college sports history, will address the community on how to raise balanced children in a pressurized society. Learn about the value of positive risk-taking and failure in raising resilient and healthy children.
Assaiante will be introduced by Michael Rouse, a member of The Haverford School’s Class of 1985 and co-founder of ESF Camps.
A book signing of Run to the Roar: Coaching to Overcome Fear, co-authored by James Zug of The Haverford School Class of 1987, will follow the program. This event is free and open to the public.
Register at haverford.org/bestforboys
Photographs courtesy of The Haverford School.