Video: A guide to private schools
Video: How to find a middle school
By Psyche Pascual
It’s a schoolyard like any other. Students stream out of class and claim the playground in a hail of shrieks. A basketball soars into the air and lands squarely in the hoop, and there’s more hooting and hollering. There’s something different about this schoolyard. Only boys attend school here. Girls are nowhere in sight.
At a classroom across the country, students cluster around a machine they are building, soldering irons and wrenches in hand. But in this room, all of the kids are girls, and they’re learning about robots by making one themselves.
Families pick single-sex schools for a variety of reasons. Some feel that single-sex schools offer fewer distractions, while others believe they offer a more equitable learning environment, still others choose a single-sex school because it aligns with their religious beliefs. In many cases, families choose a school for other features — a curriculum that reflects their child's interests, for example — and the fact that the school is single sex has little to do with the choice.
In the long run, parents should consider the academic strengths of a school and their child’s interests first and foremost. If your daughter is a science geek, for example, then you'll want to choose a school with a strong science program, whether it's single-sex or co-ed. If a boy loves music, and the best choir program is at a single-sex school, than that may be the best fit.
Explain to your child what a single-sex school is and what it offers. Visit the school, and make sure your child gets to sit in on classes and talk to other students. Make sure your child knows what the environment is like without members of the opposite sex to play with all day long. Some kids welcome the idea. Others may not.
The idea of single-sex schools may seem quaint and old-fashioned — reminiscent of Jane Eyre, or Madeline, who walked through the streets of Paris with her all-girl classmates “in two straight lines,” in Ludwig Bemelmans' beloved children's books.
In fact, single-sex education is rapidly taking root across the United States. What used to be offered only in private schools is spreading to public classrooms across the country. Why has single-sex education seen such rapid 21st-century gains?
In 2006, a key change in Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools, made it legal for publicly funded school districts to create single-sex schools and classrooms. Since then, private and public single-sex enrollments have grown. Supporters attribute the spread of single-sex education to the fact that it raises the bar for girls and boys, giving both sexes an opportunity to thrive and overcome traditional sex roles. But critics believe the science behind these claims is seriously flawed.
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