Carolyn Conte ‘14
There are schools of all grades that limit acceptance to one gender, but depending on the grade level, it could affect the student in a number of positive and negative ways. When enrolling a kid in single-sex schools, there are some factors I think the parents and student should take into account.
I heard of an all-girls preschool advertised, and my first thought was that this is when children learn how to make friends. Perhaps they are too young to distinguish much between a boy from a girl, but if they can, then it makes sense that they will be more likely to shy away from the opposite gender in older grades. If all a kid sees and socializes with in their basic, core-learning years is other kids just like them, I believe they’ll subconsciously learn that those who are different are not their friend. As I considered this, I came to decide that even if they tend to stick with their gender when they enter a mixed class, kids will be kids and learn quickly to get along.
But, if attending an one-gender grade school, when kids and pre-teens recognize male/female differences a lot more, the lack of another gender will be much more obvious to them. Perhaps this is when it would affect them most, for better or worse. One positive benefit could be that their confidence may develop more. Some girls have been known to “play dumb” because they think it will make guys like them, but in a single-sex education, the students would be less likely to degrade themselves like that. Yet a negative factor would yet again be the lack of diversity for kids to learn to socialize easily.
By high school, attending an all-boys or all-girls school shouldn’t affect the social ability of a student much, unless somehow they forget how to deal with the opposite gender, or if in grades school they also attended a one-sex school. The impacts of a same-sex high school seem more beneficial, to me, than they would be in lower grades. High school is when relationships start to become more serious, but so does the pressure of what others think. Attending one-gender high schools may help the teenager feel more accepted. On the other hand, they might feel like they are missing out on relationships.
College years shouldn’t matter much what genders are accepted, because unless the students have gone to one-gender schools their whole life, I suspect they’ve fully developed the necessary social skills of real life. The only downsides of it, to me, would be again losing the chance of romantic relationships that by these years would be much more serious.
Whichever type of gender-ratio education a student gets, they should try to stay balanced.