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Back to school night

Last night we went back to school night for my sons fourth-grade class. We have an eighth grader’s we’ve already been through this before. Most of our questions focused on changes from the routine from what we experienced four years ago. Something look harder and some things are easier, but it looks like our son will have a full day. We were struck by sex differences in study habits that may be our most evident at this grade level and beyond. Increasingly, studying becomes important, even when there isn’t a specific assignment. As parents of the young boy, we were eager to see more clarity in nightly assignments and expectations. While the kids are supposed to read 10 minutes per night, many of the parents, perhaps of boys, requested that this be more explicitly spelled out as class homework.

In our daughters eighth grade class, we hear parents even more adamant about the need for this explicitness. It’s not enough to say to some kids, “be sure to study for the test next week.” They need a reminder every day in their lesson plan that they should be devoting some time to studying ahead of the test. For those kids, luckily my daughter is in one of them, the parents need to review that list with their child every evening and make sure they’re staying on point.

As a father of a younger boy an older girl, I’m very aware of how they will have different styles of studying and preparation. I’ve already been exposed to how expectations for how a girl will act in elementary school might make a little boy seen at least temporarily less than capable. But I also know that my high school, sex differences in how we perceive more assertive, extroverted behavior will make the boys stand out. It all makes me think how, as a parent, you have to constantly modulate your style and approach, not only for each child, but for their different stages of development.

this new year will bring renewed focus to study and discipline. We’ve already upped the ante on piano practice. We been told that the extra reading we did last year for fun now must become routine. And finally, one of the major hurdles of childhood education, the learning of the multi location tables, we now know should be accomplished by the end of the calendar year. This will all mean more pain and suffering for a little boy, unless we add in all the extra tasks is just part of another average day and not develop in him a long-term distaste for learning.