Is it true that boys and girls are different in character, behavior and intellect? We often hear people say that ‘girls are softer in nature, and tend to excel really well in their studies’ and that ‘boys are more physically active, and don’t really take to books as well as girls’. Another common school of thought was that ‘girls learn faster than boys do’.
These days, with the advancement in accessibility of knowledge, there is a rise in awareness to the idea that there is a variety of learners out there. Generally, society is more informed than it was back then when those gender assumptions are wildly common. One popular theory that we know of, the VARK model, identifies four primary types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic. Of course, there are other theories that list down up to seven types of learning styles too, which includes logical (mathematical), social (interpersonal) and solitary (intrapersonal).
Therefore, rather than simply generalizing our children in terms of their gender, we should also look deeper into identifying the type of learners that each individual child is. Sure, there might be certain similarities within each gender group, but it is really important for us to think of them as unique individuals and to provide a learning environment that really suits them well. This way, we’ll be able to nurture their growth in a way that complements their unique individuality rather than molding all of them to fit the same box.
At the kindergarten stage, there isn’t a gender-based division in terms of their education and classroom activities. All children all treated equally in the sense that they are given access to different methods of teaching and experiences. At this point, identifying the type of learner your child is plays a huge role in how you build their foundation for their years to come in primary, secondary and tertiary education.
With that being said, what can parents do to determine their child’s learning style? A great place to start with is by communicating with your child’s teachers to learn more about the methods they respond best to. Share your findings and resources with each other! It is also really important that children are exposed to as many methods and experiences as possible. If your child is a reluctant reader, find out how you can develop their reading skills in a way that will pique their interest. Did you know that to combat the rise of reluctant readers, the National Library of Singapore introduced an innovative reading programme called QUEST that incorporates the wildly popular trading card format and manga illustrations into their reading material? That is just one brilliant example of many that shows that there are ways to work around even the most reluctant of learners.
The most important thing is to never take the easy way of generalization, no matter how tempting the situation may make it out to be. It takes a lot of time and effort, but getting to know what kind of learner your child is would absolutely prove to be fruitful in the long-run. There is so much more to our children beyond their gender. Look beyond that, and you’ll find a precious and unique individual within them. In shaa Allah.
A short and sweet poem by Rumi comes to mind:
You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dreams.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.
Each child is born with potential.
Don’t clip their wings before they even learn how to fly.