Helping Boys Succeed in School

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by Marcus Jackson, EdD

With the right support and motivation, all boys can succeed in school! Try these simple tips to help the boys in your classroom or home:

For Teachers

  • Build a strong relationship with your students. As obvious and rudimentary as it sounds, your students must actually like you if they are going to be successful in class. And in order for them to be to like you, you must show that you like them.
  • Understand the learning style of male students. Most boys are kinesthetic learners. The days of students sitting in class while their teacher lecture for an hour is long gone. Lecturing only appeals to auditory learners. We recently asked over 300 male students, “What can teachers do to make learning more fun?” One hundred percent of the boys responded “less lecturing and more group work and projects.”
  • Make real life connections to the classroom and student interests. When asked what would they would like to be when they grow up, many boys say they want to be some type of professional ball player. What an excellent opportunity to incorporate their interests and education! Use a boy’s interest (and understanding of) football to introduce and reinforce math concepts: for instance, The Falcons gained 200 rushing yards against the Giants.  Wide receiver Harry Douglas gained ¼ of those running the ball.  How many yards did Mr. Douglas gain running the ball? or Matt Ryan throws a 15-yard reception to receiver Harry Douglas.  How many feet did this pass completion entail? An interest in sports (or anything) can be used to enhance language arts skills too. Notice the use of the word entail in that second example.

For Parents

  • Form a relationship with your child’s teacher. While I was growing up, my mother took on three jobs to make ends meet.  Her schedule did not permit her to attend PTA meetings or conferences, but I always knew she had respect, trust, and appreciation for all of my teachers. A healthy relationship between the parent, teacher, and administration forms a powerful triangle. This is a formula for success.
  • Place a high value on independence and responsibility. These two skills are essential to academic success, and parents can teach them at home. For example, if emptying the trash is one of your son’s chores, please allow him to complete the chore by replacing the trash bag.  It is important for parents to give their son more independence and responsibility based on their growing needs. This is a very important requirement for academic success, and this is one that many boys struggle with in school.
  • Engage, engage, and engage!  This goes especially for moms. Society rarely questions close relationships between mothers and daughters, even fathers and daughter; however, close relationships between mothers and sons come under scrutiny. The boys are characterized as soft, weak, or a “mama’s boy”.  But when a mom steps out of her comfort zone to connect with her son, she is teaching him the importance of building relationships and connection with others. Playing chase, relay races, swinging, exploring, collecting rocks, monopoly, sports, art, wrestling, digging for worms, or climbing are some of the many activities sons enjoy sharing with their mothers.


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