Single Gender Classrooms in Public Schools - Your Thoughts?

Updated on February 29, 2012
A.L. asks from Charleston, SC
22 answers

My daughter attends a public school which offers a chance in 4th grade to be in a single gender classroom. Have any of you tried this type learning environment for your children, and if so, what were the pros & cons? My biggest fear is that all girls can create lots of drama. (my daughter included) I'm sure if the teachers are good, they can curb this, but just wanting to get some other thoughts before I go to the meeting.

Thanks ladies!

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So What Happened?

Thanks ladies for the diverse perspectives! I will let you know what we decide!

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answers from San Francisco on

Wow! That is excellent! My parents sent me to a girls' high school, and I am so thankful every day of my life that they did that. I had never before (in mixed-gender classrooms) believed that I could be successful in math and science, and had always been the last to raise my hand to give an answer, even though I knew the answers. I was always tall and gangly and self-conscious. Well, when you are in an all-girls classroom, those concerns go away. Girls are great at math and science because they have to be - the teacher isn't going to expect (consciously or subconsciously) the boys to be better, because there aren't any! Girls won't be the last to raise their hands to answer a question. Did you know that studies do show that teachers DO tend to pick boys to answer questions more often than girls, and when they do ask girls, they tend to ask easier questions? My mom was a teacher for more than 20 years, and when she read that study, she thought, "Well, *I* don't do that!" And then she paid attention to the kids she was calling on, and realized with horror that she DID do that! That's when she knew she needed to send me to a girls' school.

Anyway, it was a great experience for me. No regrets. I was, and still am, closer to my high school friends than anyone I know who went to mixed-gender schools. We were supportive of each other academically AND socially. Almost no drama, actually. Removing boys from the equation will do that. ;) If I had the option to send my daughters to an all-girls classroom or school, I would do so without hesitation.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I feel like school is (or should be) a gradual process of preparing children for the real world. I would not want my son in a school, that does the exact opposite. Just my opinion!!

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Pittsburgh on

The pros are that girls as young as this are treated differently than boys by their teachers and behave differently (in co-educational classes). They are less likely to participate in class, to volunteer answers in math and science and to be perceived as competent and intelligent in these areas by their peers and by the teacher. They are less likely to become group and individual leaders in a coeducational class. Yes that is horribly sad. But apparently there are parents even here who seem to believe that girls are not as good at math and science.

The cons are that boys and girls should be learning that they are each human beings. That what they have in common is great and that individual differences are so much greater than any gender differences (which at this age are clearly learned) in academics that there is no point at all in stereotyping.

This has nothing at all to do with 'drama' or parent's perceptions that little girls are divas (how sad that parents think this way, of course children rise and fall to meet our expectations).

I would not want this for my son. I want him to know that little girls are his equal in all parts of life. But I absolutely can see the pros for parents of girls who are concerned about their academic and social development.

The point is NOT to teach girls 'different' and presumably less important things. It is to teach girls the same things in an environment where they are more likely to participate, be aggressive and assertive and master the material.

Girls in single sex classrooms are LESS likely to behave like stereotypical 'girly girl' princesses. They are MORE likely to behave like people. If you have to think of the stereotypes - women's colleges have a reputation (stereotype - not necessarily accurate) of producing thinking women who play 'butch' sports like rugby and field hockey. Not of fielding teams of pink and purple princesses.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I taught at a single gender middle school for three years. There were both positives and negatives to it.

On the positive side, the boys did not distract the girls from learning, and many girls seemed to be willing to speak up and contribute more to class discussion when they didn't feel like the boys were watching them. Performance overall didn't change, although I felt like my boy's classes were almost easier to teach without the girls there.

The negative side was that it was a somewhat difficult transition when there were gender mixed classes. Their music and elective courses were mixed together, so there seemed to be more drama in those classes, as it was one of the only times the two genders were together. The same sort of thing would happen in the lunch room. There was some complaining by parents that classes were taught differently. The boys classes seemed to be more "energetic" than the girls classes did (although I can say I used the same curriculum in each). There were also some students who complained when they went to high school that they had a hard time being together in classes again.

All in all, I liked the classes being separate, but the concept didn't stick. A year after I left to teach in a high school, they switched to traditional classes.

Good Luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My immediate thought is that I would NOT want to be that poor teacher (Of either the all male or the all female classroom).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

do it-especially important for girls. The drama gets created when they are posturing for the boys

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Well, I wouldn't want it for my kids. I think they need a balance, in everything. My daughter is a tom boy so she would HATE it, and my son is so active, if he was with only other active boys, he would probably never settle down! I haven't heard of this other than private all boy/girl schools so I'm surprised public schools are offering this although I suppose it could benefit some kids.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Not for us. I would fear that it would eventually start to become a "girls learn this" and "boys learn that". I already have seen a tiny hint of that in evidence in some of the comments below.

I am sure girls and boys do learn differently, many say that boys are better at math and science. So does that mean we start teaching them more of those subjects and less to the girls? I would be afraid that too much segregation of the sexes could lead to that.

Besides, I want my daughter to know how to handle boys early in life, not when she is a raging ball of hormones. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I don't think it makes a hill of beans at her age. In high school I think it was the greatest thing every thought of. Most of the stupid things the genders do are trying to impress the opposite gender. Take that out of the mix and they go to school to learn.

Boys weren't ignorant to each other just to make the girls think they were cool, girls didn't dumb themselves down so as to not intimidate the boys. My god! they learned. Then my son went to college and got all stupid again though I think beer had something to do with that as well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

Jeremy and I had a big discussion about this 5 years ago when our 1st son was an infant (yeah---bless his heart). When I was a kid, my dad used the threat of going to the all girls' Catholic school as the ultimate threat to make me raise my grades, and it succeeded! But then, when he was doing that I was in the last 2 years of high school and was boy crazy, and not thinking about anything but soccer and boys. Had that been done earlier, I probably would have loved it. My high school bf went to the all boys Catholic school (these were the 2 best schools in the state; congressmen and senators come from these schools, etc). The way it generally worked was that they had classes on separate campuses, but would get together for activities (sports events, band, dances, field trips, etc).
My husband says it's THE ONLY way to educate because from kindergarten all the way through high school he was at an all boys school. He says they didn't stress about money, or who came from what part of town, wearing the uniform with a little tie (cute!) kept them understanding that when they put this on, it was time to "work" and it was an equalizer in classes. They had to test into this school, and it had very poor kids and very wealthy kids, but they didn't really notice who was who. And being in all-boy classes they had their own kind of "rules" where being a bully wasn't an option, showing off for a girl wasn't an issue, and they were free to concentrate on their work.
When I was in high school, we DID have a Psychology class where there were like 25 girls, and only 2 boys who sat in the very back row, in the corner by the window. They were very shy, very quiet, and NOBODY has any memory of those poor guys. Everyone thought it was an all-girls class, and it was ACTIVE. We had debates, discussions, honesty, very fast paced, very quick witted discussions. There was no drama at all. There were popular girls, "brains", not popular girls. But seriously, in that classroom, we were really all friends and had so much fun. Again, it seemed to be a great equalizer. We were not the same though---I am not, nor have I ever been mistaken for a girly girl. At all. We just seemed to be able to talk honestly about things, and take part in class discussions (even lead them) with no fear or shyness like we did in "normal" classes. So after remembering that Psychology class, I agree with my husband that it could possibly be awesome.
I do know that as "confident" as I *acted*, I know that I hesitated to raise my hand too many times, and I didn't want to act interested, if there were guys (specifically cute guys) in my class. I didn't want to be a "nerd". I think as long as lunch, recess, etc had opportunities to mingle with the opposite sex, it'd be a cool thing to try.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I think it could be really neat. The only real concern might be regarding any assumptions about the kids themselves. All girls are not "girly" girls and like pink and are drama queens and have beautiful handwriting. Not all boys are rough, tough, and into all things hunting/war/being tough and have horrible handwriting skills.

And for the odd girl that learns better in a "boy" environment. MOST school situations are geared toward what works better to teach girls. They are more language oriented and can sit and pay attention longer more easily (MOST girls... it is more typical for them---not every single girl). MOST boys do not. They do better with physical manipulatives, getting up and down and using their bodies to learn. Not all boys. But it is more typical for them. So this could be AMAZING for boys, to have a class with a teacher that takes that into account in her teaching style. But for a girl who tends to learn better that way, to be stuck in a class that doesn't---well, she'd probably have the same experience as she would otherwise, except that she won't be one of half the class that learns best that way. She'll be one or two out of the entire class, probably.

I think I would be all for it. I guess we've been lucky to not have all the drama some of you other mamas have had. Our daughter is 10 and isn't that into drama. So far, anyway...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I teach high school English, and I would not be in favor of single gender classes.

Like you, I think that a class full of girls could create too much drama, but more than that, I think that boys and girls can offer so many different perspectives on a variety of topics. Maybe this wouldn't be as important in 4th grade, but in high school I think it's critical.

For example, we just finished reading Ibsen's A Doll's House, and it involves a controlling husband and a wife that can't think for herself. We watched excerpts from Kramer vs. Kramer and Mona Lisa Smile and read a couple of non-fiction feminist literature pieces to go along with it. The discussions would not have been nearly as interesting if I had had a single gender classroom.

I am not familiar with the 4th grade curriculum, but I think at any age there are benefits to having both genders. They have so much to learn from one another.

Just my two cents.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I would make this decision based upon my particular child at the moment. I would also consider whether this is short-term decision or if you plan / hope to proceed for the rest of her schooling.



answers from Atlanta on

My son attends a public charter school with single gender classrooms. I'm a fan of it in middle and high school, but elementary isn't thrilling me, and my son doesn't like not being around girls. Studies have shown though that it can be especially helpful academically for girls as they head into the tween and teen years, so you may want to try it!



answers from Atlanta on

I went to an all girl's high school and college and wish that my grade school had been all girls as well. I never saw any of the drama that some of the posts are saying. I found it to be a great bonding experience with the other girls without the distraction of boys not to mention a better learning environment. Best of luck to you.



answers from Augusta on

I would do it if I had the chance.
Boys and girls learn differently.
Boys for girls provide a distraction.
And the other way around.


answers from Philadelphia on

i went to an all girl high school and there wasnt much bullying or drama. Sure there was some but I think hlaf the girls could create way more drama with boy to show off for. I used public transportation and there was an all boy school that rode it too and the drama started there



answers from Athens on

Are girls that age into drama? I have three girls and it didn't really start until middle school. My daughters thought boys were idiots at that age. But in middle school they start looking more appealing. That is when I would rather them go all girl or all boy. I don't think it would matter much. I have heard they do better in the same sex classrooms. I would go for it.



answers from Houston on

I've read that's it beneficial for girls to be in an all-girl classroom, but actually detrimental to boys.

Unfortunately, I read that a while ago and don't recall where it came from. Take it as you wish.



answers from Tulsa on

If I had a son, maybe.
I could not stand having a room full of girls. It would guarantee at least 2 drama queens and I can not stand that thought.



answers from Cincinnati on

From what I have read, the pros are that there are less distractions in the classrooms, but the cons (or you could consider it a pro, depending on your perspective) are that the classes are taught in a style that reflects the "learning styles" of that particular gender, so girls' classes are taught slightly differently than boys' classes. This can be good if your child learns like a stereotypical girl or boy, but it can be bad because it does risk leading to stereotyping in many ways. I have no personal experience with this, however, I just read a couple of articles about it last year.

ETA: I met my husband in high school, even though we didn't get married until after graduate school, so I am biased against separate classes. Had my parents decided to do it, I might not have married my amazing Hubby! ^_^



answers from Boston on

I would LOVE, love, love that option. I think it's so good for both girls and boys and forces both out of typical gender roles. In many classes, the boys don't speak up or participate because being "smart" is for girls. I really wish that my district offered this option, especially in the older grades. I went to an all-girl high school and it was far and away the most valuable part of my educational experience. If we could afford it, I would send my kids to single-gender high schools.

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