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SEL Series: Girls and Boys Brains Learn Differently

In Arizona this past weekend,  I presented at workshops in a conference called “Excellence, 2018 School’s Out, Make It Count”. Along with presenting, I attended an excellent workshop called ” Boys and Girls Learn Differently.” The seminar centered on brain-based educational research and techniques that can be used in classrooms that help children learn better.  The workshop was fascinating.

Workshop Wrap-up

Male Brains

Male brains learn differently according to studies. In male brains, a large part of the cerebral cortex is designated to the spatial and mechanical functioning.  According to the research males learn better with movement and pictures rather than just words.

Female Brains

The cerebral cortex is responsible for all our mental and motor functions such as memory, attention thought, and language. Scans show that female brains have more extensive areas in the cerebral cortex dedicated to verbal functions. Also, studies show that hippocampus develops earlier for females and is significantly larger in women than men.  This developmental advantage can profoundly affect vocabulary and writing for females.

Biochemical Differences

Boys and girls have biochemical differences. Girls have higher levels of serotonin and oxytocin. These hormones play a critical role in promoting a sense of calm and happiness. Young boys are more likely to fidget and act impulsively because of these hormonal differences.

Things to keep in mind when teaching boys and girls.

Teaching Elementary Boys

● Use manipulatives to promote fine motor development.
● Make lessons experiential and kinesthetic.
● Keep verbal instructions to no more than one minute.
● Personalize the student’s desk, coat rack, and cubby to increase his sense of attachment.
● Use male mentors and role models, such as fathers, grandfathers, or other male volunteers.

Teaching Elementary Girls

● Play physical games to promote gross motor skills.
● Use water and sand tables to promote science in a spatial venue.
● Use lots of puzzles to foster perceptual learning.
● Form working groups and teams to promote leadership roles and negotiation skills.
● Use manipulatives to teach math.
● Verbally encourage the hidden high energy of the quieter girls.

The more experienced I gained while working with children I recognized that boys and girls do learn differently. Now that science has proven it, the data that can help us effectively find solutions to many of the road blocks of meeting each student needs. Of course, generalized gender differences may not apply in every situation, but altering the learning experiences to improve education for all students.

If you are excited about learning more about how girls and boys learn differently you might want to read:

With Boys and Girls in Mind by Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens
November 2004 | Volume 62 | Number 3
Closing Achievement Gaps Pages 21-26


Tiana Brown is the Assistant Director of the Norwalk Housing Authority’s Learning Centers


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. jocelyn merchant

    Would love to attend a conference in this area of expertise. Would you happen to know of any in the near future?

    1. CTAfterSchoolNetwork

      Thanks you for reading Jocelyn. I have responded by email.

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