In a recent video added to EdFlicks, Francis Wardle, a professor of child development and the author of Oh Boy: Strategies for Teaching Boys in Early Childhood describes an experience he had as a Head Start Director. In talking with the Disability Coordinator, whose job it was to identify children who were needing extra help and support, he learned that twice as many boys were being identified as girls.
He began observing in his classrooms to see where teachers (who were all women) were spending most of their time. He noticed they predominantly were in the Art Area and Dramatic Play Area. He then tracked where girls and boys spent the majority of their time and learned that most of the girls were also in the Art or Dramatic Play Areas, while most of the boys were in the Block Area. Wardle noticed that teachers were only going into the Block Area to deal with behavioral issues. This observation began a life-long interest for Wardle in exploring the gender gap in early childhood education.
We’d like to hear your experiences with gender issues in today’s early childhood classrooms - in all aspects. Please share in the comments what is happening in your setting. What are the important discussions you’re having? Thank you!
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Erin, Thank you for your insight to your classroom.
Vicky, thank you for the comment. Gender bias is an interesting topic within ECE.
Based on casual observations at the center where I work, I can still the female teachers gravitating to the areas where the girls are and only monitoring or breaking up what they often see as rough-housing or putting our fires in the areas of choice for the boys.
I also think that many in the ECE community have lost perspective on how children learn best, both boys and girls. Some part of the gender gap is tied up in the idea that an ECE classroom is only to prepare children for Kindergarten.
It's still true that teachers are more inclined to be where the girls are and when they are in the chosen areas for the boys it's usually to stop the boys from rough-housing.
Gender bias and risky play seem to go hand-in-hand.
Sarker Javed Iqbal, Thank you for the comment. It is difficult when you do not have the support from your leaders. Thank you for all that you do to work towards inclusion.
-Tiffany at Exchange
I was just thinking about this, although I have a different take on it. I was sitting at Circle time in our Montessori full day classroom and looking at the 10 girls all sitting perfectly and the 10 boys talking, hitting each other, rolling around on the carpet or not even joining us at all. I feel many times I end up ignoring the girls and just focusing on the boys in the class due to misbehavior. I just can't figure out how to get them to be self directed, well behaved and considerate of the other children in the class. I have only 1 well behaved boy in my class.