The blog is written by Dr Swati Popat Vats President Early Childhood Association
Are we Supporting and bringing up Children in a Gender- Friendly environment especially making our school curriculum ‘boy’ friendly?
Reading about the increasing instances of teachers resorting to punishments and noticing that in almost all the cases it is boys that are involved we did an indepth research of material to find out if incorrect teaching practices can be leading to misbehavior in boys, could it be that boys need gender specific instructions and interactions? (n.a.e.y.c.org) Yes they do-
An important aspect that needs to be kept in mind both at home and school is to ensure that we create a gender-friendly environment in which boys and girls succeed. Boys don’t need tough environments , they too need sensitive handling. We were inspired from an article on gender friendly classrooms in YOUNG CHILD, the magazine of the naeyc and we thought of conducting our own internal research in our practices-
Two areas where we need to be extremely sensitive is
a. In the handling of boys and their emotions and behaviour as boys are different than girls so if you have only one method it will harm rather than help either the boys or the girls.
b. The selection of toys and how you guide kids to use all kinds of toys irrespective of gender bias.
In the handling of boys and their emotions we taught teachers the following-
1. While every child is unique, boys tend to benefit from high activity, full-body learning. When teachers encourage all children to learn through movement, positive behaviors are the norm and challenging behaviors are less frequent. Teachers can follow these practices- (King 2004): (Young Child 2013)
· Follow a schedule that includes very active play (outdoors or indoors) as the first daily activity. Both children and teachers enjoy this time-and some-times work up a sweat. Maybe that is why PT was the first period in schools traditionally and now it is a quiet assemble, could also be one of the reasons of increased behaviour problems in boys.
2. A gender friendly classroom should also keep the emotional needs of boys in mind and this can be done by (King 2004). (Young Child 2013)
· Boys respond better to Humour to solve conflicts- A teacher might kneel down to where two boys are arguing and say with a smile, “ oopps looks like Mr angry is sitting on your shoulder and has stolen your smiles, how about you put your friendly faces on so that Mr angry goes away and then lets discuss how to solve this problem.”
· Boys get antagonized with threats and embarrassment. Threats end up in power struggles and get in the way of positive teacher-child relationships. Instead, offer the child choices. Then, accept whichever choice the child makes. For example, as privately as possible, a teacher might say, “Yash, you choose: Do you want to share the cars or climb on the jungle gym? Which will you choose?” Later, after emotions have cooled, the teacher can follow up by talking with the child about what happened and what he might do differently in the future.
· Boys also need to talk about their emotions but don’t know how to- Sometimes when boys appear to be angry, they are masking their true feelings of pain, embarrassment, or fear. Help boys learn a variety of words they can use to label their emotions. Encourage them to share their feelings with teachers and classmates. Acknowledge and accept emotions to let a child know you care.
· Boys need affection too but tend to pull away- Boys need to be cuddled and held. They need kind words and unconditional personal regard. When they fall or when a friend uses unfriendly words, boys need you to respond in a warm, caring, and nurturing manner. Even when a boy is defiant or has hurt another child, let him know he is still a fully accepted and valued member of the class. He just needs to work on a few things. It is up to you to help him.
Incorrect teaching practices can lead to misbehavior in boys, as boys need gender specific instructions and interactions (n.a.e.y.c.org). Let the change begin with each class so that we can nurture more sensitive boys.
(Due credit for this article goes to Young Child magazine of n.a.e.y.c, visit www.naeyc.org )