“Boys do not need to be rescued from themselves. They need to be boys and be nurtured as boys. If that means running and screaming and getting dirty at recess, then get out the Band-aids and ready the Tide. Boys need nurture just as much as girls, but often it is a different kind of nurture.” (Borgman, 2005)
My son was in trouble at school a lot. I’m not saying he didn’t deserve some (or even most) of it, but he was in trouble for something or another just about every day. Now, academically he has always done extremely well, but, you see, he just couldn’t sit still. And being able to sit still while in public school is pretty much a requirement. But what if boys aren’t really meant to sit still?
In an interesting book I’ve been reading called “Wild at Heart,” the author addresses that very thing. There are truly some major differences between boys and girls and how they learn and what levels of activity (or inactivity, as the case may be) they are capable of sustaining. I also really think that the largely female staff at most schools often just doesn’t really know how to handle boys and their energy…
And the punishment of choice at the school where my kids were? Taking away or shortening recess. Making them sit still. Talk about shooting off your own foot.
Here at home during the school year, we try to begin our day with exercise in addition to our morning devotionals. And then, once we finish our school day, it’s outside they go, for bike riding, zip-lining, trekking around the woods- whatever. As long as they’re outside moving their bodies. My daughter did occupational therapy for a while to help manage her ADHD. One of the things they had us doing every morning as part of her therapy was a series of exercises. She had to wheelbarrow walk around the house, jump up and down, and then spin around in circles an equal number of times each direction, to name just a few. It sounds silly, but the therapist explained that engaging those large muscles sort of activates the brain- sets it up for learning. Let me say that again: sets it up for learning. I kind of think all kids could use this sort of thing, not just those dealing with ADHD.
And especially boys. I’ve noticed with my own that on days when he can’t get outside and get out that energy, he will not only be rather awful, he also won’t be able to go to sleep at night. We’ve had constant rain here in Georgia for what feels like the entire summer, and it’s been hard to get him outside some days. Believe me, we’ve all felt the pain of his lack of outdoor activity!
At the school where my kids used to be, during standardized testing time they have all the kids go outside onto the track and run or walk laps in the morning before the school day begins. My question is this: why do they only do this during testing time? Why not all year? Most of the year, before school the kids have to sit at desks and do “morning work,” otherwise known as busy work. And then the bell rings at 8 for them to start their day of real work. Meanwhile, the nation wrings its hands about childhood obesity and how many kids are on medication- come on! What about just letting them get outside and run around a little?! I’m not saying it will solve all kids’ problems, by any means, but it sure wouldn’t hurt! And it wouldn’t cost us a dime in taxpayer money. After all, fresh air is free.
Borgman, L. (2005). Girls excel, but boys need nurture, too. MENSIGHT Magazine. Retrieved from: http://mensightmagazine.com/Articles/Borgman,%20Lori/2006/022006.htm
Eldredge, J. (2010). Wild at heart: Discovering the secret of a man’s soul. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.