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Supporting Boys - and Girls - in Early Childhood

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.

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