Thursday, February 2, 2012

Don't be Limited by Gender Stereotypes

There are many who promote the idea that children can engage in all types of experiences regardless of their gender. Jenny Kable posted almost 2 years ago about encouraging girls into block corner. Check out the tips she shared on her Let the Children Play site.
 There is also an article on the ChildCareExchange website about block play not just being for buys. The printable version of this article can be viewed without subscription.

The other day my own preschoolers demonstrated how both boys and girls can work together to create elaborate constructions during block play. In this case they used figures from the nearby dollhouse to accentuate their building. Interestingly enough, it was the girls who were taking the lead during this experience for the most part while the boys were mostly onlookers or playing a supportive role, such as holding items while waiting for the girls to place them.

Then today a different group of children defied the stereotypes even further. Purely on their  own accord these girls went about constructing a house, even simulating hammering and sawing with toy tools. 

Nearby another girl was busy with some more tools and the tool box. She had already 'fixed' the fence and was getting ready to 'fix' one of the chairs.

A girl's work is never done it seems.

Meanwhile, these boys remained very busy taking care of the babies. They fed them, rocked them to sleep, clothed them, burped them and even changed them. What great future fathers we have here.

I take absolutely no credit for what these children demonstrated. I have only been their teacher for a few weeks. The influence of others who have previously been in their rooms and their home life experiences have definitely had a positive impact on how they view what is acceptable roles for them. Having said that, I hope that I can also be a positive influence on these children and the fact that I am demonstrating someone in a non-typical role should help break down any barriers to boys and girls in my care undertaking any play experience they desire.


  1. I totally agree that your atypical presence is important, but so is your male energy- it doesn't take long for this to have an effect- and your acceptance and approval of these activities.

    I noticed that my girls did tend to stick to stereotyped roles, but the boys somehow felt free to play with the female dress-ups and dolls and especially the dolls' house. I often wished for a male figure in the room to enable the girls to extend their play; I really think it helps.

  2. Thanks for the kind words Annie. Perhaps it is 'male energy' as some put it, but I would like to think that anyone can encourage all children to embrace the whole spectrum of experiences on offer to them. Perhaps your girls just need a gentle nudge toward certain areas or resources.

    I've made a regular event of providing a woodworking project and the girls are sometimes more enthusiastic about it then the boys.