Hundreds of parents gathered Thursday night at a Calgary school to hear strategies aimed at helping boys to learn.

Recent studies show many boys are falling behind girls in academics.

And boys are twice as likely as girls to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), said featured speaker Edmond Dixon.

“We do not have boys engaging in anywhere near their potential in all levels of school,” he said.

Dixon is the author of Helping Boys Learn: 6 Secrets for your son’s success in school.

"If you look at six things: movement, game, humour, challenge, mastery and meaning. And you weave those into educational contexts — either at school in the classroom or at home around the kitchen table — you can get a boy to be more passionate,” he said.

Video game concerns

Some parents who attended the forum said they blame computers and video games. Elaine Nickel said she struggles to get her 14-year-old boy out into the real world.

Boys, learning, education

Edmond Dixon suggests six strategies for helping boys learn: movement, game, humour, challenge, mastery and meaning. (Shutterstock)

"I call him a hobbit. He likes to stay in the house, he likes to do the online social thing with his friends,” she said.

In order to avoid being overwhelmed and lost in the age of instantaneous information, children have to be trained to be independent learners, Dixon said.

“We need to be passionate learners, and I believe every child can be.”

One of the simpler strategies Dixon shared is to use a timer when a boy has homework to do.

That turns it into a game of beat-the-clock, triggering the boy’s competitive urge to get the work done faster, he said.

“Males release testosterone when they set a goal and achieve it,” he said.

“It’s not that complicated but it does respect his physiological need for accomplishment.”