Truth #1: “You ARE smart!!!”
Boys often secretly think of themselves as “dumb” – and nothing could be further from the truth.
As Michael Gurian and many others have documented for the last few decades, modern schools are primarily built around “girl-brain” learning styles. Otherwise known as: “Sit still and listen” learning. Yet boy brains often need movement in order to learn. In fact, at the youngest ages, little boys (who are already made to be wiggly!) will instinctively want to move around in order to stimulate their brains to listen and retain what the teacher is saying. But if the teacher doesn’t realize it and sternly asks little Joey to sit still, it is suddenly much harder for him to understand what the teacher is saying.
Tweet this: “Boy brains often need movement in order to learn.“
So he doesn’t comprehend it properly, doesn’t do the assignment properly, and gets a poor grade. He wanted to succeed, wanted to do well – but he couldn’t.
Repeat this dynamic thirty or forty (or three hundred) times in the first year or two of school – and it’s not surprising that you have a boy who assumes: “I’m dumb.”
You as a parent must call out this lie and blast it away. “You’re not dumb. You’re a smart kid.” “We need to find and work with the way your brain learns – and we will!” Yes, our schools are set up for girl learning, but every boy can adapt to it in their own way, with (for example) reviewing the textbook or notes during homework time with breaks to go outside and shoot hoops. Or by listening to Catcher in the Rye on audio instead of just reading it.
Or by grasping the ways that they are smart and emphasizing those. As my friend Kathy Koch wrote in her book Eight Great Smarts, every child has unique “smarts” that are built into them – and it is life-changing for that child to suddenly see their specific intellectual gifts. Once they suddenly believe that they are smart, they believe they can do this thing called school – and they start trying again!