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

sweetieaddict Thu 12-Jun-14 20:33:17

Thank you for all your advice and thoughts.

The school offers sewing, cooking and gardening club as 'alternatives' to all the usual sport offerings. Drama and music are really strong too, in fact there's probably as much focus on them as sport and all the boys appear to get really involved.

My ds goes to gymnastics and swimming club which is mixed, so am consciously trying to keep encouraging co-ed activities and interests. He loves baking with me too (not that cooking is a feminine interest I hasten to add!) I was also fully intending to enrol him for Stagecoach when he hits 4 so yes, I do want him to do drama (whilst I can choose!)

He sadly doesn't have any female cousins and doesn't seem to play with any of the girls at nursery - may arrange a couple of playdates over the summer though. However, I don't want to overthink this and go on a crusade to find girls for him to play with!

We're off to their summer fete soon, that'll be a really good opportunity to see what the students are like and the dynamics of the school when everyone is really relaxed and not on 'best behaviour'.

I'll sit him for their assessment and see how he gets on - it may be a case that decision is made for us, but that'll be another excellent opportunity to observe surroundings, environment and behaviour.

We also have our tour with HM and I'll probably go to another open morning in the autumn term - can't do anymore than that really and go on my intuition closer to the time. I still have a feeling though that primary and secondary single sex if just not something I feel wholly comfortable with - it just seems too 'male focused' for such a long period of time....

Will keep updating.

Mutteroo Tue 10-Jun-14 23:28:52

My son joined a prep school in year 7 which had previously been an all boys school. Girls were slowly being introduced; however DS's class was always all boys & he loved it! He said a couple of weeks ago that he wished he had been at the school from reception & wondered if he would have preferred a single sex senior school? Who knows? The thing is you know your child best & if they are doing co-ed activities/mixing with the opposite sex outside of school, I really don't see the problem with choosing a single sex school.

ridinghighinapril Mon 09-Jun-14 21:44:52

Just realised I have repeated Sanity and Chazs points - I'm still getting used to mumsnet and didn't realised the thread had gone onto page 2! blush

Karoleann Mon 09-Jun-14 21:13:07

Both my boys go to a single sex school, it really suits DS1, he's quite boyish has never had any interest in playing with girls (even as a toddler). The teaching methods seem to be completely geared to him and he thrives there.
DS2 it suits less so, his nursery friends tended to be girls and he still plays really well with them. He does find the environment at school quite boisterous, but as another poster said the boys get involved with things that they may not do in a mixed school. He's a really good little gymnast and loves choir and handbells.

Spotsonmydots Mon 09-Jun-14 21:01:58

My son goes to a single sex school but 2 of his best friends are girls outside school. I think it suits him - needs to be outside a lot and is fidgety

ridinghighinapril Mon 09-Jun-14 17:14:32

Agree with Theas18, posadas, zero above. Also true for girls going to single sex primary and secondary. I was coed primary (and loved it) and girls secondary, which was absolutely the right thing for me. No boys to distract me in class, no worries about make-up/hair/impressing anyone. Also found that there girls were 'free' to do physics, maths etc without social pressure one way or the other. I went to university and could certainly hold my own when it came conversations about sport with boys.

In the end, good schools AND parents remove boundaries and educate for life. If single sex is the right thing for your child then go for it. They will have friends who have sisters, go to mixed extra curricular groups, have female cousins etc. so girls won't be totally alien to them anyway.

Good luck, hope he has a great time at whichever school he goes to!

My DC go to a single sex prep and I do think that it means they don't stereotype things as boys or girls activities. The choir is very popular and they recently had a cake baking competition which all the boys seemed to take seriously. I wonder if this would be the case in a mixed school.

Our roles at home aren't segregated by gender, we both cook and clean etc. so I don't think that the DC have any "traditional" views on what is a male job v a female one.

Theas18 Mon 09-Jun-14 10:48:17

and for what it's worth DH was single sex educated. He gets on fine with women/girls. Does everything I do ( bar giving birth LOL) and as you can see teaches small kids!

DS was/is ( doing A2 now)"single sex educated" (the "" because the girls school is on the same site, so classes separate to 6th form but lots of migling on the bus, through music etc) and he's a rugby loving boy who sings and plays a " girly" instrument LOL . Again it's clear the boys at his school sing and do more music than they would if there were girls in the school- a 13yr old boy treble in a mixed school wouldn't stand a chance in a choir with a top line of 16-18yr old girls!

SanityClause Mon 09-Jun-14 10:45:22

My DC have all gone to single sex schools, DDs from 4+ and DS from 7+.

They never get the message that there is "girl stuff" and "boy stuff".

I once went to an open day at a girls' secondary school, where a physics teacher was telling me about how the girls were amazed that they could "do" physics - they'd always considered that to be something boys were good at. DD1 was quite amazed at that attitude. In her class of girls, sure some were better than others at various things, but it wasn't down to gender.

Sport is very big at my DD's schools. There is also a lot of emphasis on drama, music and art.

At DS's school, boys have to take on female roles in the school plays. This was particularly hilarious this year, when they did a play about Shakespeare, and some of his characters. We had a boy, playing a character of a girl, who was pretending to be a boy, dressed as a girl. I somehow think Shakespeare would have approved!

The choir and all music is immensely popular at DS's school. They are big on sport, but also drama and art.

All my DC socialise in mixed groups outside of school, so they don't miss out on that.

I agree that it seems stupid that we have to segregate the sexes to give a more rounded education, but until this country changes drastically with regard to gender stereotyping in the school environment, I will continue to consider single sex education the better option.

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.

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").

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.

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......

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.

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.

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

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.

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 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 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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...

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