Engaging boys in learning

It’s the official halfway point of the 2017 school year, a perfect time for parents to review how their son’s learning is progressing and how to tackle any issues.

Boys and engagement don’t always go hand-in-hand in the classroom and with recent figures showing one in four students quietly disengage in the classroom setting parents need to gain perspective of their sons’ learning environments and whether their boys are active participants in their own education.

Disengagement from the classroom can happen at any age, from the youngest of learners not wanting to fill in worksheets of numbers, letters and words to older students struggling to see the point of learning activities with no obvious relevance to their day-to-day life.

Passively deciding to disengage in learning activities can have significant consequences on learning achievements – similar to those of students who are outwardly disruptive and aggressive in the classroom and fail to complete activities.

Researchers put disengaged, and therefore unproductive, students about two years behind in their learning compared to peers who actively take part in learning.

There are a multitude of potential reasons boys decide to switch off in the classroom; from problems at home impacting their classroom performance to one-off situations of frustration, disappointment or discipline by current or past teachers which result in boys reducing their efforts and lacking motivation or desire to succeed in learning opportunities.

At the other end of the scale, boys can also disengage due to boredom – highly intelligent students feeling unfulfilled or challenged by learning experiences and choosing to put minimal effort into activities as a result.

The Grattan Institute’s research report Engaging students: creating classrooms that improve learning starts with the most important yet most basic point in regard to engagement – students who are engaged in the classroom learn more.

“It’s vital that teachers create the right classroom climate for learning: raising student expectations; developing a rapport with students; establishing routines; challenging students to participate and take risks – these all affect how much their students engage and learn,” the report states.

Student engagement is vital to ensure students strive for their best opportunities to succeed in the classroom. It can be challenging for parents and teachers to re-engage students who have lost motivation or confidence in learning but acknowledging a child’s dissatisfaction with his learning environment is the first step to trying to rebuild his engagement in his education.