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November 16, 2008

5Qs with Author Peg Tyre

Peg12 I recently had the opportunity to read Peg Tyre's new book, "The Trouble With Boys". It inspired me so much I asked the author if she would participate in our Inside Pre-K 5 Qs interview series. She happily agreed and offers some very interesting and thoughtful answers to five questions that relate her work to pre-k education.

In a conversation with another parent, what would you say are the benefits and risks of preschool for boys?
I think the value of preschool for all children is pretty well documented -- it can lay down the building blocks for school success and enhancing lifelong learning. The problem really comes in when preschools run programs that are developmentally inappropriate for little children, especially little boys. In particular, programs that are highly academic, that consist of hours of uninterrupted teacher-directed activity, that prize quiet time over physical movement. Often, when boys are enrolled in these kinds of pre-schools, they flounder. They attract an intense amount of negative attention from teachers  and that is very sad. Unfortunately, it can be the first blot that turns in into a pattern of academic failure. 

How do you see the role of pre-k in our society?
Interesting question. And a big one. There is a discourse among early educators that suggests a very democratic notion -- that preschool is a great leveler -- and often we talk about preschool as if it functions in the same way for all kids. But practically, that doesn't seem to be the case. Poor kids need pre-k a great deal -- to get them away from the TV, to expose them to a language rich environment, to help them develop pre-literacy skills, familiarize themselves with the mechanics of reading (left to right, which way to hold a book) to learn numbers and colors and days of the week, and social/emotional skills like self-regulation. Middle class and affluent kids are usually getting the enrichment then need at home -- it's good to have it reinforced in preschool but there needs are different - or maybe, they aren't as great. 

What did you learn about pre-k during your research for this book?
That it can be tough to be a little boy enrolled in preschool right now. And it can be tough to be his mom.

What has changed about society's perceptions of boys over the past 10 years?

It think we have  become very intolerant of what boys are like, how they think, how they play and how they express themselves.

What is the most critical issue facing boys and their parents today?
There is a pipeline that carries all children from preschool to college and I think the data shows that  there are several places along that pipeline where boys are fall out. My  book is really about those places were boys-- for a variety of reason -- disengage from education -- often with disastrous results. I think it is critical for parents to address this problem in their schools and in their communities. Right now we have 2.5 million more girls than boys in college --  a staggering gap. But when you ask college presidents why there are so many more college ready girls than boys, they will tell you that the problem begins in preschool. We need to address it early so all our children can get the best education possible.

The Trouble With Boys: A Surprising Report Card On Our Sons, Their Problems at School and What Parents & Educators Must Do


Image from: http://www.pegtyre.com/index.php


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