girls and boys learn differntly

Co-Ed Or Single Sex? Which High School Is Best For Your Daughter?

It’s the great old age question when you have daughters. Do you send them to a co-ed or single sex high school?

Is a co-ed or single sex school the best for girls when it comes to their learning?

I am the mother of four daughters.

One has graduated from high school, another is in the middle of year ten, and the two youngest are still in elementary school. Early on, we decided to send the girls to the local high school, which also happens to be a single sex, “all girl” high school.

Our motivation for this at the time wasn’t purely because it was an all girls school, it was:-

  • Less travel time to and from school.
  • Easy to get to with public transport.
  • Close to their friends. Which in my opinion is a very important contributing factor. (Especially when you are the prime taxi driver).
  • Most of their friends from primary school were going there.
  • It has a very good reputation and name.
  • They provide a well rounded education, focusing on academics, sport and music equally.
  • It was their choice.  I firmly believed that kids should have say where they want to go. After all they are the ones going to be spending the next 6 years of their lives there.

The question still remains though, should you choose a co-ed or single sex high school for your daughter?

Knowing what I do now about raising teenage girls, my decision would always be a big “YES” to a single sex school.

Everyone’s reasons behind choosing a particular high school for their children, are very different. It’s a very individual choice.

Some want a sports high school, some a creative arts high school. Maybe a school that focuses purely on academics is what will fit their daughter best.

I am lucky that my girls high school enables them to participate and excel in all those areas, while providing a well rounded academic education.

Why you should choose a single sex over a co-ed high school for your daughter.

  • In a single sex environment girls don’t feel the need to have to compete with boys in science or maths, areas typically boys seem to enjoy and excel at.  In fact girls in a single sex environment, are more likely to take science or non traditional subject as an elective, compared to those those in co-ed schools.
  • Girls and boys learn differently. Boys tend to favour a more hands approach. Girls prefer it to be more interpersonal. It is also said that it is easier for teachers to teach a classroom that has less learning preferences involved.
  • Single sex schools may lead to better academic results for some girls. Girls without the added distractions of the opposite sex, find the ability to focus a lot easier.  Boys however can often benefit from the calming influence of girls in the classroom.
  • Girls in their teenage years and going through puberty can often feel self conscious, especially if they have to change for PE or sports lessons. There is a lot to be said about a single sex environment when “Aunty Flo” raises her monthly head, everyone is in the same boat and are very understanding should an accident occur. Or develop a need to break out the chocolate.
  • Girls at a single sex school, without the competition of  boys are always the “computer wiz”. They top of the year in maths and science. Are the best athletes and they are constantly told to strive towards their goals, to “smash that glass ceiling” and that it’s OK and expected to excel in those areas.  Areas traditionally dominated by boys.
  • If she has a boyfriend in a co-ed high school, usually that boyfriend is part of her inner circle of friends. What happens if they break up? Which lets face it, is 90% of the time with teenage relationships. As a result this can often break up that friendship circle also, once everyone has picked a side. If your daughter has a boyfriend that goes to a different school altogether, the outcome is much simpler and cleaner. Their network is likely to be completely separate than that of their boyfriends. This will be left intact in the event of a breakup.

On the other hand

It is said that students attending a single sex school can suffer socially.

It can sometimes make it difficult for them to communicate with members of the opposite sex in a social or business setting. After all life is co-ed.

I tend to agree slightly with this in the case of my oldest daughter, who is socially awkward and shy. She finds it hard to talk to new people and make friends. This seems to be the case with both males and females. She was also this way in primary school, which incidentally was a co-ed setting.

It’s hard to say if this is a by product of her “single sex” schooling or maybe perhaps it’s just her personality, however I don’t think being in a single sex environment did her any favours in this area.

One thing she did say to me before she started high school all those years ago was, “Mum I can’t wait to get rid of all those boys”.

She found that with boys in the classroom it was noisy and  distracting.

She has now graduated high school with amazing results and is currently embarking on her first year of university, might I add in the male dominated degree of Commerce and Business.

I can safely say that attending an all girls high school was probably the best decision for her education, even though her social skills suffered.

I do believe though,  that she wouldn’t have achieved the academic marks she did had she been in a co-ed environment,  it’s a bit of a “catch 22”.

But then…..

My second daughter has a very outgoing personality. She is also very attractive and the boys seem to  flock to her. For this reason I am extremely grateful that she is at a single sex school during the hours of 9-3 and has some sort reprieve.

At least I know she is concentrating on her studies and not fending off potential suitors.

Might I add that she is also glad to be rid of the boys during school hours.

Some 16 year boys do tend to have one track mind…

Read also: 11 Parenting Tips To Support Your Child’s Learning At Home

Frequently Asked Questions

Do single-sex schools suffer from student diversity?

Gender segregation is prevalent in many aspects of life. Single-gender schools are possibly one of the most widespread kinds of institutionalized gender segregation. Because schooling has such a significant impact on kids’ psychological development, interest in gender-segregated education is resurging over the world.

Student diversity is a problem in single-gender schools. Although it may be simpler for students to succeed academically at a single-gender university, the actual world is not. After graduation, students from single-gender schools may find it difficult to transition to a co-ed work environment.

It’s more vital than ever for teachers to include culturally responsive instruction in the classroom, whether they’re teaching elementary school, middle school, or high school students, in our increasingly varied and global society. And diversity isn’t just about color and ethnicity; it may also include students of various religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientation, gender identity, and linguistic backgrounds.

Do Boys and Girls Learn Differently?

Boys and girls are not the same. Boys’ brains are bigger, while girls’ brains grow quicker, and their interests and learning styles are usually different. According to studies, the atmosphere we create for our children has the biggest influence on their learning style and content.

Girls mature a bit quicker than boys, which allows them to develop linguistic abilities earlier and give them an advantage in reading, writing, and speaking. Boys are generally ahead of girls in math and science, even while they trail behind them in writing projects. They may enjoy constructing things, manipulating stuff, and seeing complicated objects in their heads.

I’ve discovered that boys and girls have distinct perspectives on school issues. Girls are more self-critical and take their issues and failings more personally. Boys, on the other hand, are more focused on their difficulties and will relate their failure to a specific subject rather than generalizing and seeing themselves as inadequate. Some say that because of these gender-based brain differences, boys and girls should be educated differently. Separate educational environments for boys and girls are the most efficient means of adopting current information regarding brain development in each gender.

Outliers are more the rule than the exception in today’s environment, and parents have the biggest influence on both suppressing and enhancing our children’s genetic composition. Understanding these distinctions can assist parents in deciding whether to let their children to study in their comfort zones and when to urge them to try something new. It can assist parents in recognizing regular behavior as well as issues that may be resolved by altering the environment to support different styles of learning.

Why do girls do better in school?

When it comes to academic achievement at school, boys in most nations of the world are struggling to keep up with girls. With a recent research that looked at the performance of 15-year-old boys and girls in school in over 60 nations throughout the world. Boys are 50 percent more likely than females to fall short of fundamental criteria in all three exam areas of reading, math, and science for kids who are truly struggling.

In numerous school and university admission tests around the country, we have seen that females have excelled and done better than boys. Another factor, according to the report, is that girls are often more behaved, do schoolwork on time, are more attentive in class, and spend more time reading books. All of these contributes to an excellent school grade.

Experts believe that female pupils’ improved performance is related to their increased comfort in the classroom when taught by a female teacher. “Female students believe that their female professors are more likely to provide them an equal opportunity to engage,” according to the study. A collaborative scientific project can be led by a girl, but she may require extra support. Even ladies who excel at leadership are prone to stepping back and allowing the boys to take control.


Choosing a high school for your child is a very individual choice. No two children are the same, even ones being raised in the same family.

Some girls will thrive in a single sex environment. Some will actually need the balance of the boys around to keep them on an even keel.

Whichever high school you decide to send your daughter to, make sure you are basing your decision on more than just if it is co-ed or single sex.

Single sex might just be the best choice for your daughter.

Did you attend a co-ed or single sex school?

How do you think this choice has benefited or disadvantaged you in life?

Does your daughter attend a single sex school?

Would you choose a co-ed or single sex school for your daughter?


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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Kara Bout It