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Supporting Boys - and Girls - in Early Childhood
January 17, 2022
Children are original blessings, here to learn from their own song. Every girl and boy is entitled to love, to dream, and belong to a loving “village.” And to pursue a life of purpose.
-Raffi, “A Covenant for Honouring Children”

According to an article on Zero to Three, “Genes and hormones set the ball rolling, but they do not fully account for sex differences in children’s brains. Experience also plays a fundamental role… It is not hard to see how initial strengths are magnified—thanks to the remarkable plasticity of young children’s brains—into significant differences, even before boys and girls begin preschool. But this remarkable plasticity also provides parents and other caregivers with a wonderful opportunity to compensate for the different tendencies of boys and girls.”

In an Ed.Flicks video on The Gender Gap, while acknowledging the diversity among girls and also among boys, Francis Wardle notes that boys are much more likely than girls to be disciplined, expelled, put on behavior plans and recommended for special needs services “not because there’s anything wrong with them but because we have a mismatch between what boys need and what we’re doing with boys. And this mismatch is twofold: 1, it’s social, how we interact…and 2, it’s physical, it’s the environment.”

In his book Oh Boy!Wardle notes, “Young boys and girls act, behave and learn differently in many ways.” Elsewhere he writes, “An increasing body of research also suggests that not only do men and women interact differently with young children, but young children seek out men or women based on the kinds of stimulation they want.” Wardle plumbs biological, historical, social and educational contributors to these generalized differences, how they impact both boys and girls, and what we can learn from all of this to create more boy-friendly (and child- and adult-friendly) early childhood programs.

Oh Boy!
Strategies for Teaching Boys in Early Childhood

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"This is not just a book, it's a story…a story of hope for young boys attending childcare in any type of setting. It's a story that sends a message to our profession that we need a paradigm shift—to our thinking, our training, and our hiring—to recognize the gender imbalance that is putting young boys at great risk of failure. It's a story that urges us as a field to better understand the specific complexities of caring for young boys so that we may fulfill our ultimate promise to provide the highest quality of care possible to all children."
– Jerry Parr, President/CEO Willow Tree Early Education Team

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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Exchange Press · January 19, 2022
United States

Liana, thank you for sharing! I will make sure the author gets your comment if they haven't seen it already.

-Tiffany at Exchange Press

Liana Laughlin · January 17, 2022
Somerville, MA public schools
Cambridge, MA, United States

While I agree with this article, at first I thought it was going to discuss a topic which I don't believe has ever been addressed. I thought it was going to talk about the way gender is developed before the genitals of a child in utero, so sometimes a child is born transgender. Because of their genitals society treats the child in ways we believe boys and girls behave, and that can become very stressful for a transgender child. You won't be surprised to learn that I am a mother of a transgender daughter. I work as a trainer of Family Childhood Providers. In some of the settings I have dared to address this topic, in others I have not. I think it would be important for this topic to be addressed by your wonderful daily postings. Thank you

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