124: How to Help Your Boys Have a Great School Year

Photo by ThoseGuys 199 via Flickr

It’s back to school time! 

But despite the smiley faces pictured in many back-to-school ads, the start of a new academic year doesn’t exactly generate feelings of enthusiasm and excitement in many boys (or their parents).

For many families, back-to-school time is synonymous with dread, fear and anxiety.

In fact, the number of boys who don’t like school has increased over the past generation. In 1980, 14% of boys said they didn’t like school. By 2001, 24% of boys — nearly one-quarter — said they disliked school. Today, the number is likely even higher.

We get it: school isn’t always a boy-friendly place.

Boys who have experienced failure and shame in school aren’t likely to suddenly develop an optimistic attitude toward school.

That’s where you come in.

There’s a lot parents and teachers can do to preserve boys’ love of learning, and set them up for a successful school year, including introducing them to new rules and teachers well before the first day and creating morning and after-school routines that respect boys’ need for movement.

Also important: learning about boys’ natural development, so you can better understand why so many boys struggle in school.

In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss:
  • The unique challenges boys face in modern classrooms, including early academic pressure and expectations that aren’t aligned with boy development  (3:25 & 9:15))
  • Why it’s important to tackle your own unresolved issues and values regarding learning and education (4:00)
  • How to help boys starting preschool (6:30)
  • Why you need to explicitly outline behavior expectations for school and home (12:04)
  • How unscheduled downtime helps boys learn (14:05)
  • Why you should focus on developing boys’ social-emotional skills (14:58)
  • Setting screen time limits (15:50)
  • Why (& when) it’s OK to prioritize life over homework (16:40)
  • The “potted plant” method of parenting — & how to use it to support teen boys (18:00)
  • How to help your boys get organized (19:23)
  • Why letting our boys fail will ultimately allow them to succeed (20:36)
  • How to get teenage boys to talk about school (22:00)
  • Helps boys transition to high school (22:50)
  • How teachers can connect with boys (25:42)
  • How humor can help you deal with setbacks (29:23)
Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 124:

Episode 101: Homework & Boys

Episode 106: Screens & Boys

7 Ways Teachers Can Make School Better for Boys — BuildingBoys blog post

Boys & School — classic BuildingBoys post about the challenges Jen’s son Sam encountered when he started school

5 Back-to-School Resolutions