Finding ways to help boys engage in play
There has been much debate over the years about how boys and girls learn differently in the early years with no clear outcomes or divide as to why this is the case. Early years practitioners often come across the same problems with boys not fully engaging in an adult lead activity or participating at the writing table or joining in with group time experiences. In order to get to the bottom of why you can not get the boys in your group engaging in these activities, you need to start with some self reflection and observations on the children. Some questions you may want to ask yourself during your self reflection might be:
- Am I following the early years planning cycle?
- Am I completing enough observations?
- Are the activities engaging, challenging yet achievable?
- Which activity did the boys really not participate in?
- Why might this have been?
- How could I improve this next time?
Answering these questions may give you all the answers you need however if at the end of it you are still confused as to why the boys in your early years group are not engaging the grand answer may just be… follow their interests!
Following boys’ interests
This is easier then you think and can be incorporated into any topic you are covering. Start this process with observations, observations and more observations. You need to know every child really well and be able to identify their interests. This does not necessarily mean that at home all they do is watch transformers but interests such as they are always building in the construction area, or the only time you see them work as a group is when running around in the garden.
Now take these observations and use them to inform your planning. An example of this might be your topic is Autumn and you have a group of boys who are not really interested in what happens during Autumn but they do love construction. Then take your Autumn group time session to the early years construction area; build hedgehog nests and talk about hibernation and nocturnal animals. Or another example may be you want the children to begin trying to write their name and you are having no luck at encouraging the boys to sit at the table and write because all they really want to do is play in the sand and water trays. So use their interests, take a small amount of wet sand in a tray with their name cards and practice writing in the wet sand with fingers or pencils.
Whatever your early years next step, goal or topic it is easy to get your boys engaged with a bit of creative thinking and knowledge of their interests.