Chinuch RoundTable

Readers submit chinuch questions to a panel of renown educators

This week's question:


As parents of a family with predominantly girls and one elementary school-aged boy, we have noticed recently that the boys have many more contests and incentive programs than the girls do. Many of the prizes seem disproportionate to the effort expended - such as a box of 60 jelly beans for Shabbos afternoon Avos Ubonim learning; pizza, chips and soda at Motzoei Shabbos Avos Ubonim; or an electronic game and a deli lunch for 45 minutes of learning at Yeshivas Mordechai Hatzaddik on Purim. In contrast, if our daughters review their Chumash from the beginning of the perek (sometimes as many as 25 or 30 pesukim) on Shabbos for five weeks in a row, their in-school reward is a piece of potato kugel (which they are very happy with!).

Our question for the panelists is threefold:

1. What is the reason for this difference in chinuch between the boys and the girls?

2. Are all these incentives taking away from our sons’ intrinsic motivation to learn? (Shouldn’t having one-on-one time learning with a father be exciting even without major prizes?)

3. How can we explain this difference to our daughters, who are sometimes resentful of all the prizes their brother is receiving, when they themselves, boruch Hashem, are self-motivated to learn and achieve (and often, to be honest, put in a lot more time and effort than their brother does)? Is it necessary - or appropriate - for us as parents to provide treats for our daughters to reward them for their efforts?

We look forward to your responses.

For the response, see this week's printed edition.

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