Single sex prep - not sure if it's a good idea at such a young age

(34 Posts)
sweetieaddict Wed 28-May-14 21:14:34

Am looking at schools for my ds(3) and one I love is a boys prep.

I'm a little apprehensive though that the environment may be too 'macho' and too 'male concentrated'.

My son is sporty, confident and loves other children - particularly older boys; loves joining in with them at the park etc, but I feel it may not be good for him to spend his formative years in a single sex environment. He has a younger brother and will probably do cubs, beavers, football as hobbies, so again, no mixed activities and little interaction (aside from me) with females.

Am I worrying for no reason? I also feel then, at secondary, he will have to go co-ed, otherwise that will be 14 years in single sex education. I don't know if this is good long term - relationships, maturity, experiences, balance, confidence etc.

I'd love to hear from others who did choose single sex and those who had reservations despite loving the school.

Thanks in advance

Wonkytooth Wed 28-May-14 21:29:26

My thoughts are - bottom line - in business your son is likely to have woman as his equals - it is important he learns how to get along with women (as well as anyone really) - the earlier he starts this, the better IMO.

doodledotmum Wed 28-May-14 22:58:56

I would never send my DS to single sex primary for those exact reasons. I would only consider it at secondary if necessary. Equality, diversity, not seeing girls and women as different, having female friends, understanding girls, realising some girls are just like boys in many ways ... I have a tom boy DD and she would be distraught if I made her go to a girls school.
It depends on what you want for your boys ?

MissHC Wed 28-May-14 23:02:16

I went to a single sex primary and then a mixed secondary school. I would NEVER do this to my DD. Horrible. Just when hormones come in play you have todeal with getting to know the other sex. I found it very stressful.

fridayfreedom Wed 28-May-14 23:05:25

Beavers, ie scouting is for boys and girls.

Helpys Wed 28-May-14 23:07:05

Not having sisters I'd say no. DS been at a single sex school since he was 9, but he's got 2 extremely string sisters and he's very close to them.

summerends Thu 29-May-14 05:19:39

Although I would prefer co-ed at that age, if this feels by far the best school for your DS then I would n't eschew it because it is single sex. There seem to be advantages to boys from a teaching which 'gets' boys and that is harder to come by in co-ed primary age schools. However I think you would be wise to make it a priority to compensate outside school by choosing activities (whilst he is still young enough for you to choose smile) that are mixed such as beavers or drama.
Look at the exit schools from that prep and make sure that gives you a good choice whether co-ed or single sex at the next stage.

Madrigals Thu 29-May-14 07:48:01

My DH went to single sex indies and as a result we are not considering them for DS. He feels they did not help him get along with girls as a teen/young adult even though he has a DSis.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Thu 29-May-14 09:42:21

OP As your Ds is 3 are you looking at the pre-prep? And are you sure it's single sex? Co-ed pre-prep is ime the norm. Followed by a split into single sex at 7 or 8 for Prep.

Unfortunately I think it's too early at this stage to know what sort of boy you've got. Some really thrive in an all boy environment from Prep age - it can be a relief for those from exclusively female homes for instance - while some might well find it too macho.

A good boys' school will enable pupils to venture into what might, in a mixed school be seen as girly enterprises - singing, cooking.... I've seen sewing machines in use at single sex boys' Prep and senior schools - it's very heartening.

Do check the situation at the pre-prep.

moonbells Thu 29-May-14 11:36:51

I would go by your DS's character.

DS (6) is at a SS pre-prep and adores it. Nearly cried last Friday when we broke up for half term. He is a very active boy and fidgety and loud, and tbh I suspect he'd be seriously unhappy if he was in a mixed class, where the teachers possibly didn't 'get' the need for some NT boys to be that way. His school also has more PE and games, which again suits very active boys.

He goes to mixed holiday clubs and swimming and Beavers (where there are quite a few girls) and even mixed cricket, and he adores my friend's DDs, and was at a mixed nursery before school, so he does know how to socialise with girls. Just chooses not to a lot of the time. (He thinks sitting quietly doing cutting and pasting and drawing is boring, and wants to be running about or climbing all the time).

If your DS is the kind who prefers to sit and read or is shy, then this environment may be hell on earth for him.

Teens - a whole different game. We will see about that when he gets to senior school age!

But as folk wiser than me have often said on here, you can always change schools if it doesn't work out...

grovel Thu 29-May-14 12:13:41

We had the same issues as the OP. We knew the senior school we wanted our (only) DS to go to. It's single sex. We opted for a co-ed prep.

We laughed about that decision when DS was 12 because the boys and girls hardly socialised with each other at all. Of course they had lessons together, sang together, acted in plays together but any free time was spent apart. The boys generally wanted to be with boys and the girls generally wanted to be with girls.

But a fairly high proportion of the boys and girls went on to single sex senior schools and just as they started becoming interested in the opposite sex they found there weren't any around. It was then that the boys and girls from the prep "discovered" each other again and introduced each other to the pool of new friends at the new schools.

Bowlersarm Thu 29-May-14 12:17:24

My DSes went to a single sex school from 7-13. They have all integrated perfectly easily to co ed schools at 13, and have had no issues at all with girls or anything else. I don't think it's a problem.

sweetieaddict Fri 30-May-14 22:57:00

Thank you for all your comments.

It seems I either go for the best school which I believe is the boys or go for a 'less good' school and hope this will be a 'better experience' for him long term for all the reasons outlined above.

summerends Sat 31-May-14 10:27:58

sweetaddict don't forget that if you are worried about having to compensate for single sex prep, at secondary level the choice could include secondary boys' schools with close links to girls' schools and also those which have co ed sixth forms. I would just go for the junior school that feels the best fit at the moment.

sweetieaddict Sat 31-May-14 19:47:21

Thanks summer, looking at the leavers' destinations for my preferred school, they all seem to go onto single sex secondary schools; it just feels like a long slog to not be interacting with any girls for primary and secondary!

I think I'll have another look round and quiz the head on what he thinks of single sex through both, interestingly though his kids go co-ed, I'll ask him why he made this choice and see what he says!

I'd still be interested to hear from anyone who has had a son go through single sex primary and secondary and whether it had an 'effect' on him. Any feedback on how well/how confident/how he now interacts around women in his next stage of life - uni, jobs, placements, friends etc would be gratefully received.

doodledotmum Sat 31-May-14 21:03:35

I have a friend whilst happily married 100% believes it had a huge negative effect on her DH and that his view on women is generally that of some one who was never exposed to them!! He only ever wanted a boy. She said he would have thought of a daughter as an alien species. They have a son. He wants him to go to boys school. She says hell will freeze over first. In my own experience at uni it was obvious who went to all boys school. Girls are not meat conquests

sweetieaddict Sat 31-May-14 21:26:56

Thanks doodledotmum - my son, today, said: "Mummy, you stay in kitchen and cook dinner, me watch football with Daddy."

I promptly turned the TV off and have him a life lesson on gender and parental roles that don't stem from the 1950's.

doodledotmum Sat 31-May-14 23:09:47

It's tricky as I have a DD who is more 'boy like' than many boys. She loves rough and tumble, footy, super Herod and hates 'girls stuff'. Some of her male friends are much more caring and nurturing than she is. Some are more into books and art than she is etc. Girls school would be her idea of hell and she's only 4. Her brother is more likely to play with a doll than her although his passion is trains and fire engines.
At least mixed schools over the opportunity to mix with children all along the masculine - feminine spectrum.

DogCalledRudis Sun 08-Jun-14 16:35:46

I think single sex is wrong in our day and age. We're Great Britain, not Saudi Arabia

summerends Sun 08-Jun-14 17:59:07

Don't really think that comparison applies when considering the characteristics and strengths of different schools smile. This query is about a best fit of a teaching style and extracurricular set up for an individual DC not about enforced segregation and inequality of educational opportunities.

Fram Sun 08-Jun-14 18:07:38

It's difficult if the single-sex is by far the better school. Children learn the majority of their attitudes and ethics form their parents though, and if you and DH are not sexist/racist/disablist etc, then he won;t be either.

My eldest could call people out aged 3 if they claimed toys at nursery were only for girls, etc wink

That said, I wouldn't want my children of any gender in single-sex schools at this age, but we were lucky in that we had plenty of options available to us.

Soveryupset Sun 08-Jun-14 20:09:38

Hate the stereotype of girls loving to be sat in a corner cutting and colouring all day as I have 2 girls who are very sporty and do not fit that stereotype at all. If anything one of my sons is more the book worm and the other son is the only one in our family to enjoy colouring in......

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 08-Jun-14 20:42:46

Sovery in my experience single sex schools work entirely against the perpetuation of stereotypes - good schools anyway.

posadas Mon 09-Jun-14 10:23:35

My DH -- and many of his friends -- went to all boy prep school senior school AND university (ie his college was all male). He is definitely NOT chauvinistic, does more than a "fair share" of cooking, cleaning, ironing, etc and is very respectful of women. I don't think he's a rare breed at all. I know many men like him. As Fram says, children learn many if not most of their attitudes from their parents.
While I'm not a hard-core advocate of boys' schools (having gone to co-ed schools myself and having enjoyed the company of boys in my classes!), I do think they have some advantages -- namely that boys feel more free to pursue creative activities (art, sewing, music, dance) that might be seen as "girls' activities" in a co-ed school and they're also free to be more emotional than they might be in a co-ed school (where, particularly in older years, boys might have to be more "macho").

Theas18 Mon 09-Jun-14 10:26:19

on the fence here. DH teaches boys at prep. Its refreshing actually. They do a lot of what might be stereotypical boy things- lots of sport and racing around madly at breaks etc but they also, as mentioned above, encourage the more "girly" stereotypical things . The boys are happy to engage as noone tells them it's " girls stuff" and they aren't in a girl dominated environment if they choose it.

For instance they all sing - at the mixed primary mine went to DS was one of 4 boys who sang in a choir of 30 . Dance club performs at concerts. There is a sewing club sometimes as well as part of art club.

Your concerns about single sex hobbies are probably unfounded. Beavers and scouts are not boys only now.

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