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I attended a workshop a while ago that was facilitated by Warwick Pudney on 'Boys in ECE and their first year in school'. The speaker suggested that male support is vital for boys in their early years and needs to be well grounded. Boys need that male affirmation.

 

Topics that came under discussion and talked about by the facilitator included:

  • Boys like structure. Consistency and regularity are important. Boys like to know that they are useful and often like a special job to do.
  • Giving boys the opportunities to take risks are important and the facilitator linked this to the four year old testosterone boost.
  • Suggested that we bring in a sense of the symbolic with boys in ECE. Give something an extra meaning.
  • Boys need a more visual approach to learning.
  • Address boys with simplicity and directness with your words.
  • Boys need affirmation and a sense of worthiness and belonging.
  • Read or tell boys positive male stories.
  • Give boys emotional safety through structure.

The speaker continued with his workshop by highlighting the differences between boys and girls. He said that boys needed kinesthetic learning and were prone to outer expression through their robust and physical bodies. Boys played the role pf protector and the role of nurturing had diminished. This could be promoted through fathers demonstrating planting and looking after a garden, or taking care of animals.

It was suggested by the facilitator that boys have a different sense of humour compared with girls, and liked competition. They like to know how things function as well as their structure. Boys have linear thinking and that is why it is so important to let them complete their projects during play. We also had a discussion around indoor noise levels and allowing boys to wrestle on the mat with one another.

What was stressed often during the workshop was that difficult boys need consistency when boundaries are set for them and that they need to know in black and white what the rules are. Boys also need to know what the consequences of certain actions are. They also need to know that they are being treated fairly.

I also noticed a few new entrant teachers from two primary schools at this workshop and during a break discussed with them the expectations around children arriving from ECE. They expected children to be independent at that stage. For example, they were expected to blow their own nose and handle their own lunch boxes. They also felt that a number of boys were not ready for school at the age of five and did not meet their measurements in Year One for National Standards which is a requirement these days.

Warwick Pudney is a lecturer, teacher, and co-author of 'Little volcanoes - Preschool Anger' and 'A Volcano in my Tummy'.