The Life-Long Benefits of Sending Your Son to an All-Boys School
If you are considering sending your son to a private, all-boy high school in Connecticut, you may be researching the benefits of a single-sex learning environment. Does an all-boys classroom and school benefit your son? What kinds of benefits can you expect?
Many experts agree that sending a boy to a single-sex school may in fact offer several advantages, such as:
1) More Positive Attention
Girls tend to outperform boys at both the elementary and high school levels. Since girls tend to see teachers as allies and friends, and since they tend to do better at sitting still, they’re often rewarded with plenty of teacher attention. In addition, since boys are more active learners in general, and may have more energy to burn, they can run afoul of school rules very easily — even when they're trying their best. They are suspended more often and face more disciplinary action in schools, according to The New York Times.
By sending your son to an all-boy boarding high school in Connecticut, you’re sending them to an environment tailored for them. This means they will get the attention they need, without attention being assigned based on gender or being split by gender.
The type of attention at a boys’ school is also very different. There isn’t a perspective that boys are “troublemakers” at an all-boys school. Since there are no girls, there is no damaging comparison between boys who “get expelled” and girls who don’t. In fact, boys’ schools generally take different approaches to resolving challenges, ensuring boys get support so they can learn to rise to challenges and overcome them in constructive ways.
2) Better Adaptation to Learning Style and Better Academic Performance
If you're sending your child to an all-boys boarding high school, academic excellence may be high on your priority list. Researchers agree that boys and girls learn very differently, and that an all-boys environment can help your child succeed academically.
Boys’ brains have larger portions devoted to spatial-mechanical functioning, which means boys tend to be active learners. They learn best when they can interact with or move around props or other materials. However, the public and coed school systems tend to be focused on more passive learning from books. This can be a significant learning disadvantage for boys.
In addition, boys tend to have a harder time switching between subjects, because they tend to compartmentalize new data. With a school designed specifically for boys, switches between subjects can be less frequent, allowing them to learn at their best pace.
An all-boys school can ensure information is presented in a way which doesn't require long periods of sitting or long periods of attention. Such schools may stress more hands-on learning and more involved activities. All-boys schools may also present information with less context, which tends to favor a masculine way of learning. This in turn paves the way for success and ensures boys get information and subject matter presented in a way that is beneficial to them.
Because all-boys schools adapt better to the ways boys learn, they have a big learning advantage. Students at all-boys schools tend to do better than boys in coed schools. In fact, some boys who do poorly in coed schools go on to do quite well at all-boys schools.
Graham Able, of Dulwich College, has conducted research at 30 schools in England. He discovered that students in general did better in single-sex schools when compared with coed schools. However, for boys, the advantages of a single-sex environment were greater than they were for girls.
3) Less Pressure to Conform to Gender Types
While boys and girls can learn from each other, in coed classrooms there tends to be some form of gender performance. There are ideas of what is “masculine” and “feminine,” for example, and boys are expected to stick with specific roles, characteristics and even activities associated with a specific type of masculinity.
At an all-boys school, however, there is a wide range of activities to participate in and less pressure toward gender stereotypes. This allows boys to explore things that interest them, without worrying about how “masculine” it looks to others.
In fact, boys are more likely to meet other boys with a range of interests, showing them that there are many types of masculinity and many things they can do. Boys can feel freer to pursue their passions and to explore their identities for themselves.
In an all-boys school, students can create friendships with each other without the usual pecking order typically established in coed groups. Boys are freer to pursue common interests, talk to each other frankly and not have to worry about conforming to specific models of student behavior expected in coed classrooms.
More free to be themselves, and freer to voice their opinions, they may feel more comfortable forming friendships based on their authentic personalities.
5) Less Social Pressure
Boys and girls mature at a different rate, with girls generally maturing faster. This can put pressure on boys to act and develop in ways they don't feel ready for. In an all-boys environment, this type of social pressure simply doesn't exist to the same degree.
6) Freedom to Succeed Academically
We know that both men and women have the ability to succeed in school. However, for many years, women have been outperforming men in school grades at the high school and college levels. According to researchers, a great deal of this has to do with men's attitudes toward learning. Young men report it's “not cool” to be seen to care about grades in a coed environment. Unfortunately, this attitude can have lifelong consequences if it extends to high school and college, where career opportunities are forged.
Researchers believe single-sex learning environments can be one way to address the academic performance gender gap. In boys-only environments, boys don't feel the same pressure to appear not to care about academics. Someone is always going to excel in academics, which makes it more acceptable for everyone to attempt to do their best.
Also, there’s less social pressure in a single-sex environment. There isn't a situation where girls are encouraged to do well, and where caring about school work is seen as a “girl’s” prerogative. Instead, everyone at a boys’ school can feel good about pursuing good grades.
7) More Definitions of What an Acceptable Student Looks Like
Dr. Leonard Sax, who has written extensively about boys’ education, has noted that coed systems can make boys feel that they cannot compete with girls, creating a situation where they become apathetic about learning. Often, this is because one type of student is held up as the “ideal” student and that ideal is often feminine.
Dr. Sax for example, notes that when boys write a story with a lot of creativity and their own ideas, they may be told that their story is not as “nice” as something that a girl in the classroom wrote. If boys include any references to violence, even in the most circumspect or historically accurate ways, this can make teachers uncomfortable and can lead to subtle but damaging comparisons with other students, leading boys to show little interest in learning.
Why should they? If they are being told that they are “wrong,” or are being sent subtle signs that they are not performing as well as female students, they may give up rather than keep trying. Dr. Sax’s research cites several instances where a boy’s academic performance and interest in studying improved dramatically after moving to an all-boys environment, where his creative ideas were encouraged and where he wasn't compared to other students in a way that put him at a disadvantage.
8) Better Social Skills
Some parents have concerns about the way social skills develop in a single-sex learning environment. However, research is very positive in this context, too. A number of experts, including Dr. Bruce Cook, have found that all-boys schools can promote better maturity and better social adjustment. In fact, boys at all-boys’ schools may end up being more courteous to people in general and more confident.
Experts theorize that boys at all-boys schools are freer to become more sensitive and to be politer. They don't have to live up to the more “masculine” stereotypes boys in coed schools may feel pressured to adopt.
Experts agree that both boys and girls may feel settled, gender-based pressures in coed education. Girls, for example, may feel pressured to be “nice” in specific ways, while boys may be told “boys will be boys” and may be expected to act out or maybe herded toward certain activities by the presence of male faculty or by pure expectation.
In an all-boys school, these pressures aren't as strong. All of the activities, mentors and opportunities are available exclusively to boys, so they are free to pursue all options.
All-boys schools give young men the chance to meet male mentors in the faculty. Whether a boy is interested in pursuing academics, sports, hobbies, arts, music or anything else, a strong mentor can help guide them through their interests and talents. Boys’ schools tend to hire a lot of male faculty, which can be a great way for boys to find role models they can emulate.
In addition, boys’ schools recognize the importance of role models and mentors for young men and design their school systems to offer just this sort of support, to provide boys with the best advantages possible.
Research shows that young men at all-boys schools show significantly more enthusiasm about school than boys in a coed environment. Marcia Gentry and other researchers published a paper in the Journal of Educational Psychology which noted that boys in coed schools are far less excited about school when compared with girls at every age level. This is regardless of income levels, types of schools attended and other factors.
The older boys get, the less enthusiastic they are about school when compared with girls. Part of the problem, according to researchers, has to do with how boys perceive their value in school and how boys perceive the schools themselves. According to the study, boys see schools as places run by women and women's rules. In addition, boys are generally praised for being athletically excellent in coed schools, but may experience social disadvantages for getting good grades.
In all-boys schools, however, boys get social benefits for getting good grades and for doing various extracurricular activities. It is rarely the person with the strongest athletic record who does best socially. Boys who succeed academically also thrive. In addition, boys can see when enrolled in all-boys school that they are attending a school designed for boys, and often by men. They don't have to feel as though they’re trying to play by someone else's rules.
Teachers know that one of the biggest obstacles in getting any child to learn is to develop enthusiasm and motivation for learning. When boys are more enthusiastic about school, they're more likely to apply themselves to learning, extracurricular activities and the other elements of attending school. By being more excited about attending school, boys at an all-boys institution have already overcome the biggest hurdle: getting excited enough to show up and try their best.
The Salisbury School Advantage
Of course, in order to take advantage of all the benefits of same-sex education, you need to ensure you send your son to the right Connecticut college preparatory boys’ school. This means sending him to a school which recognizes the differences between boys and girls and creates a learning environment designed to be safe and beneficial for boys, specifically.
Salisbury School is a boys’ prep school in Connecticut designed to offer a supportive and exceptional academic environment for boys. We have been helping boys grow into young men since 1901. Located in Litchfield County, our school has a modern and diverse curriculum created to allow your son to study a wide variety of subjects which will prepare him for university and allow him to explore his interests.
In addition, we have strong extracurricular programs in athletics, arts, academics and more. We can help your son explore his passions, build a strong college application, forge lifelong friendships and build character. Our students learn not only the subjects they need to succeed in life, but they also learn the life skills which help them build fulfilling lives, pursue successful careers and get accepted into top colleges.
The Salisbury Advantage is one of the reasons we are the top boys’ boarding school in Connecticut. What is this advantage? Salisbury offers:
- A close-knit community of supportive students and faculty.
- A traditional college prep secondary school curriculum, designed with academic vigor in mind.
- Departments offering excellent faculty, as well as programs designed to help students think independently, read and write well, develop math skills and invest in the other skills needed to succeed in school and in life.
- Small classes and a small school overall, meaning plenty of personalized attention and a chance to build confidence.
- An environment where students are allowed to feel safe in pursuing hobbies, challenges and new ideas.
- Sports offerings at all recreational levels.
- Music and arts programs, as well as other extracurricular activities.
- An honor code and a character-based education, which helps build character.
- Leadership opportunities.
- Volunteer and civic opportunities, which build good citizenship.
- Dressdown days, Headmaster Holidays, field trips, theme meals and other opportunities for fun.
If you are searching for an all-boys boarding school in Connecticut to give your son an advantage, contact Salisbury School to learn more about our programs. Salisbury is a member of the International Boys’ Schools Coalition. This non-profit group is "dedicated to enhancing the education, well-being and development of boys worldwide" and members include some of the most prestigious boys’ schools around the world.