Sons v. Daughters: Helpful Advice for Successful Learning

When it comes to school, research supports what parents know: Boys and girls approach learning differently.

Usually boys tend to learn better when they have pictures, graphics and physical movement to help them grasp concepts. Girls benefit from talking about how to solve a problem and working with others on a solution.

Boys tend to be ahead in math and science while girls develop language skills earlier giving them advantages in reading, writing and speech.

As parents, it’s helpful to understand these differences and encourage our sons and daughters to learn in his or her comfort zone and when to push to try something that doesn’t come naturally. It can help to recognize behavior that is typical and problems that might be fixed by tweaking the learning environment.

Helping Your Son

At Home:

  • tutoringEncourage frequent breaks from homework to move around. For example, he can do 15 minutes of homework and then 15 minutes of shooting baskets. Set a timer.
  • Help him move around while studying. Toss a football back and forth while calling out spelling words, or make up studying games that require movement. For example, call out study questions. If he misses, you get to assign him an activity, such as running up and down the stairs three times. If he gets the answer correct, he gets to assign you an activity.
  • Find creative ways to help him stay focused. For example, maybe he can walk on a treadmill while reading or sit on a balance ball instead of a desk chair.
  • Help your son stay organized. It may not be enough to buy your son a homework binder and check it every Friday. You may need to go over it with him every day as part of your homework routine.

At School:

  • Talk to his teacher about his learning style at the beginning of the year. The more information she has about him, the better she’ll be able to respond if he fidgets a lot during quiet study times.
  • Ask for alternatives. If your son is struggling with a narrative book report, see whether he can demonstrate his understanding in a different way, such as a slide show presentation or a podcast

Helping Your Daughter

At Home:

  • Provide toys and activities that encourage her to build and manipulate things. Puzzles, construction toys, and blocks are great choices for girls and boys.
  • Talk it through. When she gets stuck on her homework, she may benefit from discussing the problem and various approaches to solving it. Or she can write you an email describing her struggle to solve the problem.
  • Point out everyday math and science concepts. For example, when you slice a pizza, show her how you’re using fractions. If you’re adding a deck onto your house,
  • Let her use a computer program to design it based on the required dimensions.
  • Promote exercise. If your daughter likes to lounge around reading all day, make sure she also makes time to move around. Play kickball, soccer, and other games to help her develop gross motor skills.

At School:

  • Talk with your daughter’s teacher about her learning style. If she hides her lack of confidence behind good behavior, her teacher needs to know at the beginning of the school year.
  • Ask for alternatives. If your child is tuning out in subjects she feels less comfortable with, see if the teacher will consider options such as an art or technology project, a creative writing assignment, or group work.
  • Speak up if you see your child’s teacher unintentionally depriving her of leadership opportunities. Girls can take the lead on a group science project, but they may need extra encouragement. They may excel at leadership yet tend to pull back and let the boys dominate.


All children are different and require varied and often creative approaches. By understanding the learning differences between our sons and daughters, we’ll better be able to help them grow to their fullest potential.

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Let us know about your experience with your son or daughter.

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