Monday, June 05, 2006

Guest Blogger--Wes Sharpe

As summer break approaches, it's the perfect time to start preparing for NEXT school year. (As we all know, waiting until August 15th is not enough time!)

Today's guest blogger is Wes Sharpe. Wes is the author of Top Tips to Help Your Child Succeed in School. Check out Wes's book here. I think you'll like it!

How to Help Your Daughter Succeed at School
Wesley Sharpe, Ed.D.

Elizabeth’s personality sparkled and snapped. A curious, confident and independent fifth grade child, she was a straight “A” student with a passion for math and science. Her career goal was to become a pediatrician. Junior high school was a different story. Her grades dipped until she was barely hanging on. In the ninth grade she announced a new career goal to her mom. “I’m going to be an interior decorator,” she said. “I stink at math, it’s too hard and I’m just not good enough.”

Something is wrong with this picture. As a school psychologist I know that boys and girls start on an equal footing. The difference between their average I.Q. scores is insignificant. In fact, some experts believe girls are more mature and ready to learn. Still, by the time they graduate from high school their excitement has ebbed.

What happens to the bright-eyed exuberance of girls between the primary grades and high school graduation? A three-year study of gender bias in 100 classrooms gives some clues. The following is a summary of the study’s findings described in Failing at Fairness: How America’s Schools Cheat Girls, the 1993 book by professors Myra Sadker, Ed.D., and David Sadker, Ed.D.

* Boys called out eight times as often as girls. Often the rule to “raise your hand” was ignored by teachers. If a boy yelled out, he usually was praised for his contribution.

* Girls who called out were reminded of the rule to raise their hands.

* Teachers valued boys’ comments more than girls’ comments. Teachers responded to girls with a simple nod or “OK,” while they praised, corrected, helped and criticized boys.

* Boys were encouraged to solve problems on their own, but teachers helped girls who were stuck on a problem.

Ways to Success

Can you improve your daughter’s achievement and build her confidence and self-esteem? Here are some ideas for overcoming gender bias.

1. Focus on a good education. Different expectations for girls and boys show up early in a child’s school career. Visit your daughter’s classroom and observe the interaction between the teacher and students. If possible, make a video recording of the classroom activities. Note the seating arrangements and count the times the teacher calls on students and the number of times the teacher acknowledges the boys and girls. Be positive and non confrontational when you suggest changes.

2. Encourage curiosity. Promote backyard pursuits that involve building with tools or studying insects—pastimes often encouraged for boys. Does she like computers? Sign her up for a computer camp. Include her friends because a girl isn’t likely to go by herself.

3. Encourage her abilities and recognize her accomplishments. Help your daughter develop qualities like independence, courage, creativity, honesty, achievement and intelligence. Lynn Drake, an engineer with more than 10 years of experience, says that female engineers have families that place a high value on education, especially math and science. Their families refuse to believe that girls are less capable than boys.

4. Assure her that intelligence and good grades are an asset. Preteen and teenage girls often are swayed by the opinions of other kids. Many girls believe that popularity requires being pretty or cute, wearing the right clothes and having a bubbly personality.

Lovingly formed in God’s image, girls are neither doormats nor dummies. Fairness at school is not an effort to make boys and girls the same, but a way to help girls recognize and measure their potential. By overcoming gender bias, girls may pursue an array of opportunities including staying home to raise a family. Until that happens everybody loses.

Well, what do you think of Wes's article? Can you relate? Have you seen this with your girls? Have you experienced it yourself?

Great tips, Wes!


At Monday, 05 June, 2006, Blogger Cara Putman said...

This is a great article and very timely. My daughter is 5 1/2 and we're trying to decide what education will best enhance her natural abilities. We homeschooled her for kindergarden and are now evaluating first grade. The reasons Wes mentions are some of the exact reasons we've homeschooled so far. She's bright and we want to enhance that.

At Tuesday, 06 June, 2006, Blogger Tricia Goyer said...

My daughter is VERY outgoing--almost too much. She has to be the leader in any situation. Hmmmm . . . I wonder where she got THAT trait from. Ha!

Of course, she's homeschooled too. And has always tried to keep up with her brother who is three years older!


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