If My Son Goes to an All-Boys Elementary, Will He Be Awkward Around Girls?

Students interacting with their teacherThere are plenty of good reasons to start your son in an all-boys school as early as pre-kindergarten. But some parents still worry that, if their sons don’t have experience with girls at a young age, they’ll be awkward or disrespectful around them when they’re older.

Is there any truth to this?

No, says Margaret Kelly, Director of Lower School Admissions at The Fessenden School. In fact, the opposite can  be true. Boys that attend an all-boys school like Fessenden—a nurturing school that offers experiences in a broad spectrum of areas— tend to be more confident and respectful with girls—and people in general.

Learning to Be Themselves

Margaret points out that this common concern contrasts markedly with the feedback she’s received from parents whose sons have completed elementary school at Fessenden and gone on to middle or secondary school elsewhere.

“I’ve heard that our boys navigate secondary school coed environments incredibly well,” she says.

Margaret attributes this to the self-confidence boys gain in an all-boys school. As we wrote about recently, in a single-gender environment, boys feel more comfortable exploring a wider range of interests. They’re not constricted by “boy things” and “girl things.” They learn to be confident with who they truly are.

“If a boy is able to take risks throughout elementary school and middle school and really stretch himself, understanding fully who he is, he’ll have such an incredible sense of himself and be very well-equipped to manage relationships with anybody—male or female— after he leaves Fessenden,” Margaret says.

Learning Respect, Not Machismo

The principal of an Australian all-boys school once observed that boys in coed schools tend to “demonstrate their emerging masculinity by gross macho over-reaction.” This isn’t a problem in all-boys schools.

“The boys aren’t jockeying and posturing within the classroom to get the attention of the girls.” Margaret says. “The boys’ sense that girls are human beings and people to relate to, respect, and interact with is more solidly formed.”

Margaret has spent the past decade gathering feedback from families of boys who have moved on to secondary boarding schools. What these families almost always say about their sons is, “He’s totally big on the girls but he’s not posturing.”

“These boys are not contorting themselves to be something other than who they are,” Margaret says. “They’re very comfortable in their own skins. I think that’s Fessenden. I feel like this place gives all the boys a great sense of knowing themselves.”

Share your concerns about all-boys education.

If you have questions or concerns about sending your son to an all-boys elementary school, share them with us in the comments section and we’ll do our best to answer them.

If you’ve already selected a few schools to visit, take along your free copy of the Pre-K & Kindergarten Private School Visit Checklist. It will help you keep organized with tips on who you should talk to and what you should ask during your tours.

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One Response to “If My Son Goes to an All-Boys Elementary, Will He Be Awkward Around Girls?”

  1. Braden Bills

    It’s interesting that gendered schools can actually be beneficial. I can see how it would offer an opportunity for him to be himself! That seems like a great way to ensure that he develops as a person instead of trying to be someone else.

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