St. Augustine Prep Blog

4 Ways Boys Learn Differently — And How to Create an Optimal Learning Environment for Them

Posted May 7th, 2019

Throughout your son’s childhood, did you hear others say things like, “he’s all boy?” Sometimes this feels like stereotyping, but if well-meaning friends or family made similar statements while observing your child, neuroscience tells us there’s a reason.

Boys and girls have unique genetic make-ups. There are differences in the size of their brains, the speed at which their brains develop, and the hormones they secrete, such as serotonin and oxytocin (hormones that largely contribute to temperament). While one gender does not learn “better” than the other, or have a capacity to learn more, it is proven that they do learn differently.

When it comes to ensuring boys and girls are given equal opportunities for success, environment is everything. If educators understand the uniqueness of young men, they are able to create an atmosphere that fosters a love for learning and a fulfilling school life.

Here are a few ways that boys learn differently, and what we can do to support their success.

They Need to Stay in Motion
Generally, boys are more physical than girls. From an early age, they have less impulse control and a greater need to move their bodies. When this natural instinct is not stifled in the classroom, boys are able to learn best.
Teachers should remember that most boys are not auditory learners — they are often more kinesthetic or visual. Whenever possible, content should be delivered in a way that fosters experiential learning. Giving boys the chance to use their hands in the classroom contributes to greater engagement, comprehension, and overall learning.

They Compartmentalize Their Learning
The brains of boys tend to lateralize — this means that rather than multitasking, they are more likely to compartmentalize lessons, tasks, and learning in general.
Educators should recognize that boys may need some time and space between lessons. Rather than transitioning quickly from one topic to another, it is helpful to provide a short break, especially a break that allows for physical activity.

They Are Competitive By Nature
Boys are much more likely to be risk takers than girls. This is not a negative trait. Driven by competition, they perform well when there is a challenge at hand. These challenges create adrenaline, which increases blood flow to the brain and helps boys perform better.

An optimal learning environment for boys will include a variety of challenges. Teachers shouldn’t shy away from situations where there are winners and losers. They should foster an environment where teamwork and competition are powerful tools for learning.

They Build Relationships Differently
One of the most dangerous misconceptions about boys is that they are less relational than girls. Meaningful bonds are just as important to young men. These bonds include those with family members, peers at school, and teachers, coaches, or other mentors.
While they are not less relational, they may be less verbal, or less emotive, than girls. Rather than sitting and chatting face-to-face, boys tend to bond side-to-side, especially while engaged in a shared activity. Enjoying shared interests and working together toward a common goal creates meaningful relationships in a young man’s life.

Considering an all-boys school for your son?
For the reasons above and many others, your son’s learning environment will shape his future. You can learn more about how boys learn differently and how St. Augustine Preparatory School meets them where they’re at in our free infographic. Download a copy today.