New Year’s Resolutions for People Who Care About Boys

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Photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr
Photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

Are you the resolution-making type? This year, consider incorporating the boys in your life into your New Year’s Resolutions. Here are 6 New Year’s Resolutions for People Who Care About Boys. 

1. Read a book about boys.

Want to teach/help/parent boys more effectively this year? Take some time to learn more about the challenges facing boys today. The best books about boys will also teach you effective tips and techniques for teaching, parenting, helping and communicating with boys of all ages.

This list of 6 Must-Read Books About Boys includes books that appeal to both parents and teachers. You can find more great books about boys on our Resources page. Want to go ever deeper? Our Books & Boys link will take you to dozens of blog posts discussing books about (and for) boys.

“Boy books” I plan on reading this year include The Parents’ Guide to Boys, Teaching the Male Brain: How Boys Think, Feel, and Learn in School and He’ll Be Ok: Growing Gorgeous Boys Into Good Men.

2.Investigate recess.

Do you know what the recess policy is at your local school? Do kids get recess? How much, and how often?

According to some sources, only about 50% of schools still have recess. In our small town, recess has changed drastically in the time I transitioned from student to parent. When I was a kid, students in grades 1-4 got 3 recesses a day, including a 30 minute lunch recess. After 5th grade, we got 2 recesses per day. Recess wasn’t cut out until high school.

Today, my 7-year-old son gets just two recesses a day. His 10-year-old brother, only one. By 7th grade, recess is gone.

I’m convinced that a lack of recess time directly impacts boys’ relationship with school. Despite many studies that say boys (and girls, and adults) learn and function better when they get regular breaks for physical activity, recess time is shrinking. Our kids are well aware of their lack of free time for physical play, but they’re powerless to do anything about it. We’re not. So this year, I encourage you to carefully investigate the recess situation at your local school.

Don’t like what you see? Speak up. Peaceful Playgrounds has a Right to Recess campaign toolbox that they’ll send you, free of charge. (I’m sending off for mine now.) Playworks is another organization that advocates for recess, and provides tips, techniques and tools to interested parents, educators and community members.

3. Learn about your boys’ interests.

All boys — ALL boys — have interests. Taking the time to learn more about whatever they care about will signal that you care, and help you establish common ground.

I still hear far too many parents and teachers say things like, “He doesn’t want to do anything but play video games!”, as if “video games” is nothing. Don’t discount the interests of the boys in your life; if a boy senses that you find his interests silly or pointless, he’ll make it a point to keep his interest away from you as much as possible. He’ll also withdraw from you.

Instead of belittling or demonizing whatever he’s interested in, make an effort to learn more. Watch him play Minecraft. Go fishing with him. Attend a theatre production together, if that’s what he loves. You might not like whatever he loves, but he does, and that’s what matters.

4. Add activity. 

Just about every boy (and girl, and adult, for that matter) could benefit from increased activity. If you’re a teacher, try incorporating more movement and hands-on activities into your days. If you’re a parent, try heading out for a walk or bike ride (or to the gym) after supper, instead of mindlessly turning on the TV or electronic devices. Boys have a strong need for physical activity. Upping the overall activity level of your classroom or home may lead to improved concentration and cooperation.

5. Let him take risks.

It’s natural to want to protect the boys in your life. But boys learn best when they’re allowed (and encouraged) to take risks. So take a deep breath and let them tackle some “risky” activities this year, whether that means climbing trees, walking to school alone, playing with guns or playing football.

Of course, you can (and should) insist on safety precautions too. It’s not at all crazy to require bike helmets or adherence to the basic rules of tool safety.

6. Enjoy the world together.

It is so easy to get caught up in all of the to-dos. Educators strive daily to meet the needs of their students while also satisfying myriad bureaucratic requirements. Parents chauffeur their kids from activity to activity while also trying to impart important life lessons and skills.

Every now and then, forget about all the things you should do with your boys, and just do something fun! You’ll build your relationship, learn about the world and have a blast at the same time.

Happy 2014!





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