Re: RARA-AVIS: Johnny can't read...

From: Sandra Ruttan (
Date: 30 Jul 2009

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    I often find myself wondering how much our expectations of the genders factor into the equation.

    For example, I expect my stepson to want to play video games more often than my stepdaughter. My stepdaughter is more likely to play dress-up. However...

    We take both of them to the Build and Grow workshops at Lowe's. And I do crafts - for the most part the same crafts - with both of them, and specifically target fine motor skill development. Last summer I had them start on plastic canvas, which is essentially sewing. Both got spool knitting kits. I used to do early intervention work, and yes, all my clients were boys. In fact, for the whole agency, boys made up 90% of the clients, but that isn't to say that boys are 'dumber' than girls.

    In some cases, parental expectations were a major issue. When I did in-home program I had to cover certain things, based on the IPP for the child. Some needed physical therapy. Some required occupation therapy. All my boys required speech. I incorporated concepts work, physical activity, speech work and occupational therapy for all the kids. Some parents were surprised I'd put a priority on art and make occasional comments, that boys just want to run and don't want to sit still for that. It left me wondering how much their expectations were contributing to their child's problems.

    On the other hand, a subject that comes up semi-regularly at our house is the feminizing of men in society. Have you noticed we expect men to be more maternal, more involved as fathers, to do more domestic tasks, but we don't have the same expectations of women? I've never changed the oil, for example, and nobody's ever suggested to me that I learn how to. I'm not even sure I know how to check the oil.

    However, the counter argument to some of my own comments is that girls obviously develop sooner than boys. Drop by your local middle school and open your eyes if you have any doubt about that.

    We've had our concerns over the kids' reading. My stepdaughter just finished grade 1, and before the end of the year she was reading chapter books, some of which were on her brother's curriculum for grade 2 last year. On his own, he wasn't motivated to read a chapter book at the time. Although I have them both read every day for summer reading, and he is reading chapter books now, most of the books she's reading are more advanced. Part of this has to do with the content - we had a hard time finding what he was interested in reading. When he finds a book he likes he's more engaged.

    All that said, I've worked with children of all ages, and boys and girls are, for the most part, wired differently. I've seen plenty of preschool-aged boys streak through a room naked, but I've never seen a girl do that.

    I think we have to expect there to be differences, not expect boys to be girls and vice versa, but at the same time we have to push each individual to reach their full potential, which means instead of assuming what he/she is capable of, try to nudge them on to the next level. They just might surprise us.

    (Oh, and sometimes, it's how they go about 'testing' kids that's part of the problem...)

    Cheers, Sandra

    On Thu, Jul 30, 2009 at 5:27 AM, Steve Novak<> wrote:
    > Nearly three-quarters of five-year-old girls (74%) could write a simple
    > shopping list, or a letter to Father Christmas, but only half of boys (54%)
    > could do so at the same age. Just over a quarter (26%) of boys aged five
    > could not write their names, compared with 15% of girls.
    > Girls were also shown to be more creative than boys: 71% of five-year-old
    > girls were found to be imaginative in art and design, music, dance, role
    > play and stories. They responded in a variety of ways to what they saw,
    > heard, smelt, touched and felt, compared with just over half (52%) of boys.
    > But boys showed a slightly better "knowledge and understanding of the world"
    > one of the early years goals. More than half (54%) could build objects
    > using appropriate tools and techniques compared with 48% of girls and more
    > could identify everyday technology (76% as opposed to 74%). Around 7% of
    > boys and 6% of girls could add and subtract.

    LULLABY FOR THE NAMELESS Dec 09 Dorchester

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