The Government is urging nurseries and childminders to encourage three- and four-year-old boys to write using materials such as chocolate powder and coloured sand in a bid to stop them falling behind girls. Young boys lag behind girls their age in terms of literacy. Government guidance sent out this month includes advice on role-playing activities such as taking phone messages, writing up instructions and filling in forms to tackle a “stubborn” gender gap.
Department for Children, Schools and Families figures show that at least up to the age of five, girls outperform boys the same age in most areas. Seventy-Eight percent of five-year-old girls are able to hold a pencil and write recognisable letters, for instance, compared with 62% of boys. Nearly three-quarters of five-year-old girls (74%) could write a simple shopping list, or a letter to Father Christmas, but only half of boys (54%) could do so at the same age. Just over a quarter (26%) of boys aged five could not write their names, compared with 15% of girls. Girls also performed better in creative tasks but boys showed a slightly better “knowledge and understanding of the world.”
The Department for Children, Schools and Families said, “Some boys don’t enjoy writing or see it as relevant – but teachers and practitioners can make it fun and relevant. The guidance will offer practical examples about how to do this.
“Because boys don’t seem to be as interested as girls in drawing and mark-making, it is important that practitioners ensure that this doesn’t then result in limited access to resources such as Paper, crayons, paint etc, and insufficient opportunities or encouragement for boys to write.”