In full disclosure, I was provided with a copy of Wired To Move in exchange for my honest review.
We have all heard that boys are different than girls. If you have a boy and a girl, then you know first hand that males and females behave differently, play differently and learn differently. But did you ever ask why?
Everyone knows about the nature vs. nurture debate. Is it science or is it parenting that makes us who we are? We can all agree that it is a combination of both but it’s really important to understand the nature end in order to nurture effectively. In the book Wired To Move, Ruth Hanford Morhard explains the reasons why boys’ brains develop differently and how to use this knowledge to create successful learning environments.
In chapter one, the author describes brain development in a way that is easy to understand. I learned exactly why boys are “wired to move” more than girls. Did you know male and female brains are the same until about 8 weeks into development? That’s when testosterone kicks in for boys taking their brain development in a different direction from girls. The MIS hormone also impacts male development until the age of 10 years old. What I found really interesting is that for boys the verbal centers in the brain are split between the right and left hemispheres which makes retrieving verbal information difficult at times. For girls, language is located only in the left hemisphere.
Chapter 2, Nurturing Boys’ Brains, focuses on how to use what we know about brain development to create and implement effective classroom strategies that help foster positive development in boys. To know what boys need, it is important to also know and understand their strengths and weaknesses. For instance, “when a boy is physically active, his brain is active.” In addition, boys excel at spatial and mechanical tasks, are visual learners and learn best by engaging all their senses and being hands-on. We also know boys develop verbal skills later than girls, are better at focusing on one task rather than multiple tasks at one time and their visual skills are stronger than their auditory skills. Another fact I found very interesting is that boys see bright colors better than pale colors, and they perform better in bright light. This is due to the presence of M ganglion cells in their retina.
So how does knowing the above information help in developing effective early childhood classroom strategies? Understanding how a boy’s brain works will help educators implement strategies that enhance and support boys’ learning. For instance, knowing about boys’ visual needs, helps educators to develop strategies such as using visual aids, using bright colors and enhancing classroom lighting. Understanding that boys hear better out of their right ear when they are little, encourages educators to seat them close to the front during circle time, to speak very clearly and slightly louder than when approaching girls and consider placing them to your right as you face them.
Did you know that “scientists have found hormones and male-specific neurons that seem to be linked to roughhousing and other typical male behaviors?” This means that when we see boys wrestle and behave in an aggressive manner, it is likely because their brains are wired to do so. Boys bond best with others through physical contact. According to Ruth Morhard, this means that kids should not always be seen as misbehaving or defiant when they behave in this way. Giving boys the opportunity for physical play can help alleviate unwanted altercations in the classroom.
Chapters 3 and 4 focuses on addressing cultural differences in the classroom. In early childhood programs, there is a diverse group of individuals with various learning needs. The author mentions several strategies to help reach this diverse population. These strategies include:
- Develop relationships with families and neighbors.
- Focus on strengths.
- Promote a positive racial identity.
- Learn about the culture.
- Set high expectations.
Chapter 5 is one I find to very important. It is all about parent involvement. “Research shows that parent involvement is directly related to success in school.” As a school psychologist, I have seen how important it is for parents to be involved in their child’s academic career. It not only increases success but also boosts confidence and supports the value of education. The author focuses on the importance of effective communication and encouraging family participation. Some ideas include holding school orientations, providing translators, holding parent/teacher conferences and establishing parent advisory committees. Sharing strategies with parents is also important and can be done through family nights, workshops and providing a resource library.
In Chapter 6, Ruth Morhard focuses on the importance of limiting the influence media has on children. To learn and grow, kids need to touch, play with and explore their surroundings. If children are in front of the television or games, their opportunities for hands-on exploration are limited. Educators should help parents understand the importance of limiting screen time. This can be done through education nights, conferences and providing printed resources.
The last chapter focuses on how children need to have real-life super heroes to look up to in their lives. This not only includes fathers, brother and uncles, but fire fighters, police officers and doctors too. Kids benefit from learning about these role models in school through research, projects and field trips. Having real-life heroes visit the school also has a wonderful impact on kids.
As a school psychologist, I found Wired To Move to be very interesting and informative, and I cannot wait to share what I have learned with my colleagues. As a mom of 2 boys, I found this book fascinating and very helpful in allowing me to better understand what my boys need at home.
You can purchase your own copy of Wired To Move for only $16.55 on amazon.com.