I was reading an online article from Reader’s Digest that looks at the differences of teaching girls and boys. The article utilizes the experience of of David Chadwell, who serves as a coordinator of single gender education in South Carolina. In summary, one of the statements made discusses how girls “interpret speaking in a loud tone as yelling and anger, which can cause them to shut down. Stressful environments make girls feel nervous or anxious because stress sends their blood to their guts.”
There were other basic observations that were made, but I wanted to camp out here and talk about ways we can help the girls we lead be able to enter and learn in a non-stressful environment.
Seating in a circle. The article mentions having the girls sit in a circle. A circle is very inclusive to a girl. It’s a way to say non-verbally, “We’re intentional about you belonging” and “You’re going to be a part of this gathering”.
Music playing in the background. If you have an iphone or a computer that can stream pandora.com then that might be a good option for you to have playing as the girls are coming in. One of our students pointed me to: a station of piano music called Dustin O’Halloran.
Food or a beverage served at the beginning of the group. When boys are omitted from the environment, girls will throw down some food. They may not be as willing to eat a bunch if they are not feeling confident but providing them with something to do or have in their hands will help them become more social and bring a level of calming to the room. Even I feel a little more comfortable when I come into a room and see food or a beverage because I know immediately what is expected of me. I’m expected to make myself at home and get social.
Icebreakers that have the leader asking questions of the group. Girls want to be known. They want to have an opportunity to have a voice. However, they try desperately to blend in first so they can take a moment and scan the group to see who they relate to best and who they want to be identified with. So if you begin your small group by just jumping into the lesson without getting to hear the “voice” of each girl, you are actually slowing down community. Sometimes a group is too big for you to “hear” each girl so if you can create an icebreaker that gets girls interacting with each other, it allows for girls to talk and be heard by some of the girls in the group. It’s a safe way to create some interaction to help them determine how to comfortably relate to the group.
What are some tips you have regarding ministering to girl specific groups?