Why Are Boys More Likely to Struggle in School?

boys struggling in school

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, boys of all ages have consistently scored worse than girls in reading for the past three decades. Boys are more frequently held back a grade, diagnosed with learning disabilities and referred to a school counselor.

When it comes to postsecondary education, young men are also less likely to enroll in college and complete a degree program – a trend seen not only in the U.S., but worldwide. What accounts for these gaps, and how can you tell when your son is struggling in school?

Cultural Expectations and Learning Styles Create a Gap

Though scientific evidence has disproven many outdated sexist stereotypes about gender differences, studies have shown some disparities in structural brain maturation in early childhood through adolescence. Parents often reinforce these variations, socializing little girls to be quiet readers and little boys to be energetic adventurers.

When boys begin struggling in school, it might be because prevailing teaching methods aren’t a good fit for their learning style. For example, kinesthetic learners who acquire new information by doing hands-on activities are unlikely to excel in a classroom where the teacher expects students to sit still and take notes from a lecture.

What to Do if Your Son Is Struggling in School

Boys who are struggling in school may begin acting out to express their frustration or impress their peers. They might also skip classes and experiment with other reckless behaviors such as substance use. If you notice a sudden sharp drop in your son’s grades, here are some things you can try.

  • Start a conversation: Adolescence can be a challenging time. Rapidly changing social expectations and a more demanding academic curriculum are hard for many teens to adjust to. You can let your teen know the door is always open when he is ready to talk about these issues. Be sure to listen non-judgmentally without interrupting.
  • Get involved in his school: Schedule meetings with your child’s teachers or join the PTO. Taking an active role in his educational experience is one way you can show your son how much you care and want him to succeed.
  • Offer to get help: Even students who aren’t struggling in school can benefit from meeting with a therapist to help them work through complicated emotions. Or, if your son likes school but is having trouble grasping a specific subject, he might need one-on-one help from a tutor.
  • Pay attention to your feelings: If you are frustrated that your son doesn’t seem to be living up to his full potential, it could strain your relationship. Don’t neglect your emotional needs when you find yourself frequently angry or upset.

Find Structure at PACE Academy

At PACE Academy, we help young men at various stages in their academic pursuits. Clients who have been struggling in school can benefit from the structure, accountability and responsibility our programming instills. Students enrolled in this program will learn valuable life skills and study skills in a single-gender environment that helps them focus on new goals.

As an integral part of our Young Adult Addiction Treatment Program, PACE Academy helps build a solid foundation for future success. For more information on how we can help your family, please contact us.