10 Reasons Girls & Boys Should Play Together

18 Jan

The following statement is neither profound nor surprising, but here it is anyway: Boys and girls don’t spend a whole lot of time with each other.

There’s no doubt that same-gender peer groups are great, but here are ten reasons why boys and girls would also benefit from playing TOGETHER.

  1. Playing together provides opportunities to develop and practice problem solving strategies with one another.
  2. Playing together creates occasions to rehearse communication skills with each other.
  3. Playing together increases kids’ comfort and familiarity with each other.
  4. Playing together allows kids’ to discover common ground.
  5. Playing together leads to an appreciation of diversity.
  6. Playing together produces a better understanding of one another.
  7. Playing together aids in disproving stereotypes.
  8. Playing together brings about a wider range of play and learning experiences.
  9. Playing together gives kids the chance to have fun together and the desire to have fun together again and again.
  10. Playing together develops relational skills that can be extended to future relationships.

Kids learn SO MUCH through play. Why not relationship skills?

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11 Responses to “10 Reasons Girls & Boys Should Play Together”

  1. Beth January 19, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    In pre-K, my daughter sticks with her same gender group. Where the boy / girl interaction happens is with her cousin and hopefully her baby brother as he gets older. I’m unsure whether her preference for playing with other girls at school is enforced or part of normal development. I’m glad family fills the gap.

    • Hillary Manaster January 19, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

      My PreK daughter tends to do the same too. The preference to play with same gender peers is part of normal development, but there are many strong social influences that contribute enormously to gender segregation and reinforce it. Same gender peers are wonderful, but when kids are interacting exclusively with only 50% of the population, they’re missing out on a lot of opportunities to learn and grow.
      So nice that your daughter has a cousin close in age to grow-up with!

  2. Rebecca Hains January 21, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    What a great post this is! It really bothers me that the current assumption is that there is no longer “children’s culture,” but two completely separate and incompatible boy’s and girls’ cultureS.

    Of course children need to play together! I am so glad you spelled out the reasons why.

    It’s funny–back in December, I published a little gift shopping guide for children: http://rebeccahains.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/gift-buying-guide-for-children/ It was picked up by a local news outlet, which initially thought it was my gift buying guide for GIRLS.

    Somehow the journalist couldn’t tell that this was a deliberately gender-neutral guide (I guess no one’s ever heard of such a thing?) and guessed that I was giving suggestions for girls only.

    So, I have to wonder what the mainstream media would make of your post. 🙂 It’s so “confusing”! 😉

    • Hillary Manaster January 21, 2012 at 11:04 am #

      Soooo confusing! I love that…..too funny 🙂
      It’s crazy how simple and obvious it is that boys and girls should be encouraged to be together, yet they receive so many messages that reinforce their segregation.  So many people would be far less tolerant of this type of exclusion if it were based on race, religion or ethnicity. 

       I can’t wait to check out your book! 

  3. Kirsten May 19, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    It’s funny, my daughter’s pre-K is that way but my son’s was not and his K class hasn’t been either. I’m hoping for improvement now that my daughter is also headed to K. Do girls segregate themselves from boys more distinctively than boys segregate themselves from girls?

    • Hillary Manaster May 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

      Great question! Some research has found that some young girls start self-segregating slightly earlier (about 6 months earlier) than boys tend to at the beginning of the preschool years, but boys quickly catch up and children of both sexes segregate throughout preschool. Boys often receive more admonishments from peers (and even adults) about cross-sex play and cross-gender-typed behavior. It’s important to note that all kids are individuals, and the extent to which a given child tends to display certain tendencies, such as segregating by gender, depends on the child. Some kids do it more than others. Also, having even just a few strong “gender police” (kids who reinforce and enforce gender stereotypes, roles or segregation – i.e. “Why are you wearing a boys shirt?” or “This table is just for girls.”) in a classroom could really have a big impact on a setting the tone for a group and dynamics within a classroom.

      Sent from my iPad

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