Should Parents Consider Single-Sex Schools?
The struggle with reading and writing greatly concerns parents as such skills are essential to a successful future. The NAEP reports that though boys and girls have similar preschool experiences, girls seem to have an advantage in early literacy participation experiences. Miller sees the writing gap in his first grade classroom and notes that his female students do seem to learn essential writing skills with greater ease.
“The fine motor skills develop later for boys, and handwriting can become laborious,” he says. As children begin to form letters and learn about the writing process, the child with strong fine motor skills is physically able to write with greater ease. Less time and energy is spent actually forming the letters and words, and the child is able to approach content of the writing more thoughtfully. Those who struggle with fine motor skills early on find writing labor-intensive, directly impacting the quality of the writing content.
Research also indicates that until about ten years ago, most of the literature children were exposed to in the classroom was oriented towards a girl’s learning style. Girls tend to prefer fiction while boys prefer adventure, mystery, sports-related, or non-fiction literature. As a result, boys were less likely to engage in reading for pleasure and were less motivated by the reading material presented within the classroom. This combined with the need for alternative teaching methods to reach and sustain the attention of boys has resulted in a decline in their overall reading scores.
The jury is still out on whether single-sex schools make a difference in boys’ achievement. Single-sex schools may offer teaching methods that support the male learning style and an environment void of the distraction of girls. Recognizing that a co-ed school is a microcosm of society, parents wonder if their boys miss out on vital social interaction that is not available at single-sex schools.
There is, however, some evidence to support that single-sex schools are beneficial. Dr. Pollack writes that “at a well-run boys’ school, boys feel more comfortable and are more confident about their abilities. Therefore they do better in school. In the absence of girls, boys don’t feel as competitive or as vulnerable and thus tend to be less tough on one another.”