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Many parents ask me how to homeschool boys. The education system often caters to girls and how they learn best and sometimes boys get stuck trying to fit into the "girl" mode of learning. I thought I would go straight to an expert about teaching boys and get her input on how to homeschool boys most effectively.
Peg Tyre has written 2 books called The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do and The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Kids the Education They Deserve. She speaks all over the country about this topic and was kind enough to do an interview with me.
Can you tell us a little bit about both of your books?
The first book I wrote about education was about boys -- why boys are falling behind in school, why it matters, and what we can do about it without hurting our terrific high performing girls!
It has a huge impact -it was a New York Times bestseller and started a three year speaking tour. So many people (moms mostly) got in touch to thank me for talking about their central drama of their family life -- their sons struggles in school.
What prompted you to research boys and schools?
I wrote a cover story for Newsweek about boys in education that was a runaway bestseller. It sold like crazy at the newstand and an article I wrote on this topic got 1.4 million web hits in 72 hours.
Your books talk a lot about public and private schools, do you have information that homeschoolers can use for working with their boys at home?
Yes, the book takes apart the different ways to motivated boys for reading and writing and the need to give boys (and girls! ) plenty of opportunity for moving around. Recess. Recess. Recess.
How much different should our curriculum or resources be in relation to boys and girls? Can we use the same books or do we need to use different materials to homeschool boys?
I don't put much stock in the idea that there are physical brain-based differences why boys and girls have a different way of learning -- I mean, probably there are but we don't have any research that shows that. And be careful when you talk about brain difference because the same wise people also said that brain difference conclusively showed that black people shouldn't own property and women shouldn't have the vote!!! Be careful not to let facts that sound like the are based in science replace real science.
And let's face it -- boys, girls, good at school, bad at school -- all kids need to be taught roughly the same material. So should you use the same textbooks -- well, yes. The same textbooks. But lets talk about reading and reading books that you love so that you love to learn to read.
Very few boys will enjoy a beach read a.k.a. Oprahs Book Club- and many of them show up on middle school reading lists for boys and girls. So we shouldn't assign them -- well, maybe we should anyway, I mean, Moby Dick wasn't written with girls in mind and there is something to be gained from trying to tackle an unyielding text -- but let's do it consciously.
If you know that half the boys in your class are struggling with reading, why assign the book "Unveiling The Secret Life of Bees?" It is not going to be popular with the bulk of your male readers. (Boys still write me to say they hate that book.) Or assign it with the understanding that it is going to be a challenging text for some kids (boys.)
Any advice for homeschool parents who have boys or new homeschoolers just getting started?
My hat is off to you. Hard job. Keep at it. Boys need to thrive academically. And homeschoolers are uniquely positioned to help make that happen.
Thanks to Peg for her candid advice and for sharing her insights on how to teach and homeschool boys. If you would like to read more of what she has to say, you can get her books:
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