Boys raised by traditional families 'do better at school'
Boys raised in traditional families are more likely to perform well at school and avoid suspension than those brought up by single mothers, it has emerged.
The Telegraph, UK, By Graeme Paton, Education Editor, 03 January 2012
Boys brought up by single mothers are more likely to struggle, according to the report by the University of Chicago.
In a major study, researchers said family structures had a much more significant effect on boysâ€™ early education than school type or even the gender of teachers.
It found that boys were much more likely to misbehave, be excluded from school and go on to achieve low grades after rebelling against â€œemotionally distantâ€ parents.
The pattern is particularly marked in single-parent families where mothers â€œinvest disproportionately less in their sons or feel less warm toward themâ€ than daughters.
The disclosure comes amid continuing concern over the gender gap at the heart of the education system.
Data shows boys fall behind girls after just a year of school and the gulf widens throughout primary and secondary education.
By the age of five, some 19 per cent of boys in England struggle to form simple words such as â€œcatâ€, â€œdogâ€ or â€œmumâ€ compared with just 10 per cent of girls, who perform better in every area of early development, including reading, communicating, basic numeracy, social skills and physical awareness.
Boys fall further behind at 11 and 16 and are now less likely to go on to university and gain a good degree than young women.
Researchers in the United States tested various theories to explain bad behaviour and low standards among boys and concluded that â€œhome-basedâ€ influences played a much bigger part than biological differences, the style of early education, teacher gender or peer pressure.
â€œBoysâ€™ likelihood to â€˜act outâ€™ is sharply reduced when faced with larger and better parental inputs,â€ said the study.
â€œAs these parental inputs are typically higher and of better quality in intact families, this largely contributes to why boys with single mothers are so much more disruptive and eventually face school suspension.â€
Researchers from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business analysed school suspension rates among boys and girls in the US. They also used surveys of parents and teachers relating to childrenâ€™s cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development.
It found that at nursery level, boys were significantly more likely to misbehave than girls, adding that the gulf in discipline was considerably wider than differences in reading and maths skills.
Bad behaviour at a young age often translated into suspensions later in primary and secondary education, it was claimed, which increased pupilsâ€™ chances of dropping out of school early and missing out on university.
The study found that indiscipline reduced among boys brought up by two parents and increased sharply among those raised by single-mothers.
Researchers said a â€œhigher levels of parental investment may prevent more of these at-risk boys from developing [behaviour] problemsâ€, adding that this was much more likely to occur in traditional families.
The relationship between family structure and behaviour appeared to be â€œmuch weakerâ€ for girls, it was claimed.
â€œIt is possible that single mothers invest disproportionately less in their sons, or feel less warm toward them,â€ said the study. â€œIndeed, we show that single mothers seem relatively more emotionally distant from their sons and are also more likely to have reported spanking their sons.â€
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