A boy is someone
who likes to have fun

Why boys only

why boys learn differently from girls

Boys develop and perceive the world differently to girls.

  • Research shows that boys and girls are very different, not just in terms of their development, but also in how they perceive and interact with and within the world.
  • Physical differences in the formation of the cochlea mean boys do not hear as effectively as girls. If you are teaching girls don’t raise your voice, if teaching boys, speak low, slow and loud and use motion to attract and keep attention.
  • Boys are ten times less likely to be distracted by peripheral noise and can tune out superfluous noise quite effectively whilst girls prefer a quieter learning environment.
  • Colour blindness is more common in boys and girls describe seeing more colours.
  • Boys’ gaze is attracted by motion and their attention will be drawn to anything in motion.
  • Boys draw verbs and prefer to simulate motion in their drawings. They also prefer muted colours like black, grey, silver and blue. Girls draw nouns and prefer brighter colours like red, orange and green. Girls see what it is and fill their pictures with details like colours, flowers and other children. Boys see where it is in space and try to capture the motion of the scene. Girls’ pictures are ‘pretty’ whilst boys often have little colour but lots of lines to represent movement. Both are valid, but different.
  • Boys prefer objects whilst girls prefer faces so don’t depend on facial information as this is often overlooked by males.
  • Boys build friendships shoulder to shoulder. Generally, when helping a boy, sit next to him and spread the materials in front of you so that you are both looking at them, shoulder-to-shoulder.
  • Girls build friendships face to face. Generally, when helping a girl, smile and look her in the eye.
  • In girls, emotion is processed in the same area of the brain that processes language. So, it's easy for most girls to talk about their emotions.
  • In boys, the brain regions involved in talking are separate from the regions involved in feeling. The hardest question for many boys to answer is: "Tell me how you feel." Boys do have emotions, yet they often lack sufficient emotional vocabulary to enable them to express their feelings. As educators we need to help them develop their vocabulary to allow them to verbally express themselves in times of emotional need, but also to understand boys may not need to ‘talk things through’ as much.”
  • Most boys are impressed by other boys who take risks, especially if the risk taker succeeds. Girls may be willing to take risks, but they are less likely to seek out risky situations just for the sake of living dangerously.
  • With boys it is important to have as many “supervised” risk-taking opportunities as possible. Unsupervised boys together are often a real danger to themselves.
  • Girls and boys respond to stress differently not just in our species, but in every mammal scientists have studied. Stress enhances learning in males. The same stress impairs learning in females.
  • Since the mid-1970's, many educators have made a virtue of ignoring gender differences. The assumption was that by teaching girls and boys the same subjects in the same way at the same age, gender gaps in achievement would be eradicated. That approach has failed. Gender gaps in learning have widened in the past three decades. The ironic result of three decades of gender blindness has been an intensifying of gender stereotypes.

“Boys build friendships shoulder to shoulder”

Mission & Values

Research says boys are falling behind

Research shows that boys often fall behind in co-educational schooling.

  • Girls are ‘presumed’ to be better at literacy and so this ‘expectation’ becomes self-fulfilling – especially in co-education classes.
  • Maleness is not ‘emotional’ – boys are told to be “little men” and “toughen up” rather than allow them to explore and express their more sensitive sides.
  • In the early years a boy’s maturity is commonly aligned to a year below girls’ of the same age.
  • Boys are more likely to be considered as having behaviour problems, and much more likely to be considered as having ADHD. In fact boys are 4 times more likely to need Remedial help during their schooling.
  • Boys are not good at engaging for lengthy periods especially in the younger years. This is when we hear of boys misbehaving, being immature or lacking in concentration. Behaviour issues in primary schools are 80-90% boy-centric.
  • Boys are movers and ‘doers’ – rather than sitters and listeners and more likely to be visual or kinaesthetic learners. Visual learners need to see the whole before they can understand the parts and need lots of charts, mind maps and diagrams and to use colour to highlight important information. Kinaesthetic learners learn by doing and need to be able to move around regularly, take frequent breaks, to use bright colours when re-writing notes and to trace key words with their fingers.
  • Girls are more rehearsed in the appropriateness of answering questions, and so are more likely to be asked for answers.
  • Boys in co-education classes are more acutely aware of not being made to look foolish in a class with girls and so are even less likely to participate.
  • Boys are falling behind in literacy.
  • Girls are improving in maths and science – which means boys falling behind in those subjects, too.
  • The crucial years for addressing boys’ differences and needs are in the primary years. This is where a boys-only education has the edge.

“The years a boy spends at Highbury Preparatory School will help set him on a course to achieving his fullest potential”

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Focusing on boys’ learning means we can specialise

Highbury boasts a continuous education offering for boys since 1903. This long and successful history proves that we understand boys.

We have a specialised focus on educating boys at the primary school level and believe that the younger years are fundamental. Boys do learn differently from girls and by focusing on boys, our staff, our environment and our programs are specially designed with a focus on active engaged learning. Our boys are encouraged to do things once taken for granted – climb trees, ride bikes, fall over and get up, make mistakes, get dirty, camp out and grow gardens. Boys’ only education is expansive and offers more opportunities without stereotypes. Whilst our boys love running, playing in the mud, climbing trees, and kicking balls they also enjoy playing chess with their friends, singing in the choir, playing an instrument, public speaking and reading in the library – not knowing that in some schools such things might be considered ‘girlie’.

We believe that every boy is special, blessed with unique skills and talents. It is our duty to uncover these strengths and build on them. Highbury provides an environment for the quiet and the active, the scholar and the sportsman, for the artist and the musician, the public speaker and the singer. Every boy is valued, warmly welcomed and encouraged.

Only a tour of Highbury will allow prospective parents to fully understand what makes us so special and so unique so please contact us to set up a visit.


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