The Benefits of attending an All Girls School

The Benefits of attending an All Girls School

Recently, one of my friends rang and asked for my opinion on where her daughter should go to high school. It makes sense; you ask a mechanic about a car, so ask an educator about a school. However, she added, “I want to know what is the best option for a girl in this day and age”.

Obviously, there are dozens of factors in choosing a school, like your child’s temperament, interests, and abilities.  There’s also a school’s cost, culture, and location. However, gender matters. For your daughter, do you choose a girls’ or co-education school?

I love girls’ schools because they are aspirational. They focus on teaching girls what they can achieve in the world and the difference they can make. Contrary to expectation, they are noisy places. There is a tone, a volume, and a pitch that speaks to self-confidence and exuberance. It is a noise that can do your head in as a teacher, but it is a noise I like. It sounds like girls becoming women with something to say and the confidence to choose a life they’ll love.

There is a body of research that suggests that girls do learn differently from boys. So, if that is the case, maybe you should consider a girls school for your daughter instead of sending her off to a coed school. Here are some points to ponder.

1. She will have fewer distractions.
The social static and inherent distractions which occur when you mix adolescent boys and girls together in a coeducational school just do not happen in a girls' school. The social expectations and stereotypes can be broken down. There will be time enough later for the distractions which members of the opposite sex provide. Fewer distractions mean a girl can focus on being herself, finding out who she is, exploring new worlds, lines of thinking and so much more. She can think outside the box with relative impunity. And that is a good thing. 

2. She will benefit from teachers who are trained to teach girls.
Teachers in a girls' school are hired because they believe in this kind of education. They understand how girls learn. They provide the kind of nurturing and encouragement a girl needs in order to become all that she can and wants to be. They provide and cite role models that appeal to and encourage girls.

3. She will benefit from a focused educational and community environment.
When a school does not have to accommodate both sexes, it simplifies the running and organization of the school. The only focus is on girls and their needs and activities. No more mixed messages and signals being sent on the playing field or in the student lounge. 

4. The opportunities for student leadership positions are doubled for girls in a single-sex school.

Generally, girls’ schools are led by women. There is daily role modeling by clever, capable women in positions of influence. It is normalized for girls to the point where it isn’t even noticed. The opportunities for student leadership positions are doubled for girls in a single-sex school. In a co-ed school, there is generally an equal division of leadership positions between girls and boys, regardless of suitability for the roles. In a girls’ school kids aren’t locked out of half of the positions because of their gender. They are chosen purely on ability.

5. Girls are more likely to participate in sports and exercise in girls’ schools.

One of society’s most frustrating problems in developing female health is that teenage girls quit playing sports at an early age. They also limit which sporting activities they will participate in.

study of Physical Education teachers found, “Factors such as distractions, uneven skill levels, uneven strength levels, harassment, self-consciousness, embarrassment, competitiveness, peer pressure, gaining respect and intimidation were identified to potentially negatively influence students’ participation and performance in PE…in co-educational environments”.

6. Her career aspirations will no longer be limited or discouraged.

Women in politics are still somewhat of a novelty in this country. Women at the top of the corporate ladder are few and far between. Women in academia have enjoyed somewhat more success than some of the other professions. We could go on and on citing examples of pursuits and professions where women have made inroads. Imagine how much different our world would be if the percentages of women at the top of all these endeavors were greater? The logical and analytical skills which women bring to the table would be a refreshing counter to all those years of stubborn, egomaniacal males who have done a less than stellar job of running just about everything.

Girls need to be told and made to believe that they can run things. They can be university presidents and, for that matter, presidents of the United States. Girls' schools do that. Her career aspirations will no longer be limited or discouraged in a girls' school setting. 

7. "When girls go to single-sex schools, they stop being the audience and become the players." - Robin Robertson

This is the bottom line and one of the most compelling reasons why girls benefit from a single-sex school setting. Why would you want your daughter to sit back and be passive? Far better to give her the courage and the experience in high school to face the challenges ahead with equanimity and aplomb. This is the 'can-do' generation. Give her the education which will allow her leadership and other strengths to blossom.

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So back to that phone call. What sort of education is best for a girl in this day and age? The best kind is the one you choose specifically for the needs and passions of your child. It’s the education you support wholeheartedly once the decision has been made. If that girl noise that speaks of confidence and exuberance is reflective of your aspirations for your daughter, then all-girls education is your answer.

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