Special Girl

Many parents worry about sending young children off to school "alone" especially with a young girl. While there are plenty of teachers, advisors and resident advisors available to supervise and counsel students those people aren't omniscient. Parent's worry as a rule and sending your daughter to boarding school is no exception. So why girls are only schools an attractive idea? There are several reasons indicated by parents and by empirical research.

Girls only boarding school are single sex academic institutions with only girls boarding and attending classes. Some schools may have brother schools or co-ed social events throughout the year. Many parents consider girls only boarding schools because research indicates that girls often learn more, gain more confidence and have fewer distractions while attending a single sex institution. The research supports these theories and indicates that girls learn differently from boys. Research studies on girls schools especially boarding and girls classroom activity focus on distraction, teacher training and bias, social environment, confidence, involvement and learning style.

The boarding aspect of the experience is much less stressful for parents because the worry about young girls and boys being mixed in a social atmosphere is taken away. There are always rules in place that regulate an opposite sex visitor's presence in a dorm. Of course rules are sometimes violated and teenagers can be increasingly creative. The daily social environment may be adolescent boy free which is a relief to most parents. Of course such schools generally make an effort to have co-ed dances, outings and activities.

All living spaces are equally available to girls which can be a plus. In my high school and college experiences the male dorms were often more centrally located and closer to facilities. This isn't a concern in the girls' only boarding school.

Less distraction is an obvious benefit of a single sex classroom. Girls are able to focus on school work and activities that they enjoy. Time spent worrying about male reactions to their dress, intelligence or participation level is a non-issue. That time can be spent on research, class work, and building a solid educational foundation. Fewer distractions mean that a girl can focus on being herself, finding out who she is, exploring the world around her and taking full advantage of the opportunities that the school offers.

She will also benefit from an environment catered to young women. The social expectations and stereotypes are pushed aside. Girls' sports teams aren't put on the back burner, decor doesn't need to be neutralized to accommodate both sexes, and every decision made for or by students is in the young women's interest.

The default in classroom environments is generally male oriented authors, achievements and pronouns. In a girls' school classes may be more focused on female achievements and contributions, thereby fostering a sense of pride in each girl in attendance. Girls are not just encouraged to participate, they do participate. Even a shy young woman will witness other girls tackling problems, coursework and challenges daily. The norm is that a female opinion and contribution is valued and expected. Girls are expected and encouraged to be leaders and to be active in athletics, student government and debates.

Your daughter will also benefit from teachers who are trained and experienced in educating girls. These teachers work in a girls' school because they believe in educating and encouraging young women. They understand how girls learn and are especially equipped to provide the kind of encouragement a girl needs in order to extract the most from a lesson. These teachers can provide and highlight role models which appeal to girls. As far as advisors there will always be someone experienced in handling concerns and problems that a young woman may face. In a traditional environment identifying that person may be difficult, but in a girls only structure the choices are plenty.

The number of women in positions of power is still a small percentage. There is still an invisible glass ceiling in most professions. The assumption is that girls just can't do certain things. In a girls boarding school environment that expectation is flipped. Girls are expected to do all of those things whether academic, athletic, creative, leadership or community oriented. Your daughter's career aspirations will not be limited or discouraged in a girls' school setting. Girls are consistently told and expected to run organizations, initiatives, create solutions and achieve results. Simply put girls are encouraged to lead, speak their mind, innovate and given the tools to achieve those goals.

The flip side of the argument is that this environment is unrealistic. Some believe that a girl's only school does not prepare young women for the real world where we constantly interact with the opposite sex. There are researchers and parents who believe that girl’s only schools, especially boarding school because of the living environment, interrupt female and male socialization. Girls do miss the daily interaction that would naturally occur in a co-ed school.

The concept of a girls only school implies that the male presence suppresses female self-actualization. Young women in a girls only boarding school may grow up to view men negatively because of this assumption. This negative positioning plus the failure to relate socially can harm future relationships and opportunities in the workplace. The social experience of being in a co-ed setting should not be totally discounted. There are scores of women who achieve the same results in a co-ed environment. They become leaders, pioneers and focus just as intently. There are teachers who encourage both genders equally and expect excellence from all students. Taking all of these points into consideration a family must weigh the pros, cons and other factors. The decision of sending your daughter to a girls only boarding school is ultimately up to the individual student and their family.