The Boys Lab

The Boys Lab at Fairfield Country Day School advances best practices in teaching boys through professional development, programmatic innovation, parent education, and strategic partnerships.
The Boys Lab at Fairfield Country Day School advances best practices in teaching boys through professional development, programmatic innovation, parent education, and strategic partnerships.
Our focus:
  • Relational teaching and learning
“Before a boy will learn from you, he must be willing to learn for you. Every boy is known and cared for.”
  • Executive functioning
“Our boys learn to manage themselves. They are able to self-regulate emotions and behavior.” 
  • Student leadership
Centering the FCDS Core Competencies––our school’s articulation of 21st-century skills. 
  • Project-based learning (PBL)
“PBL emphasizes teamwork, creativity, and presentation skills. It’s real-world and active. PBL is a boy-centered approach to teaching and learning.”
Our Successes in Advancing Boys Education
  • The inaugural Boys Lab Confab. The Boys Lab launched an annual summer retreat for FCDS faculty. This year, the team focused on best practices in project-based learning and adoption of a common framework.
  • Relationally exceptional faculty. All FCDS teachers took the Situational Judgment Test for Educators of Boys, a measure of teachers’ relational acumen. Collectively, faculty scored well above the mean.
  • Implementation of a school-wide executive functioning program. Cornerstones of the program are the FCDS planner and executive functioning course.
  • Thought Leadership. Presentations at International Boys School Coalition’s annual conferences and at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
  • Listening and speaking tour. The Boys Lab team serves as ambassadors for boys education. Our conversations with colleagues help answer our central, guiding question: “What is the future of boys education?”
Relational Parenting: The Boys Lab’s Recommendations
  • Allow for unstructured time with your son––follow his lead and take part in whatever he wants to do.
  • Boys often test adults. Accommodate a degree of opposition. 
  • When there is conflict, check in with your son. Ask, “How are you? Do you want to discuss things further? Can we hit the reset button?”
  • Accept responsibility when you make a mistake. Model humility.
  • Boys place great importance on fairness––give appropriate, consistent behavioral standards. Make consequences clear.
  • Warmly but firmly set limits and enforce them when your son misbehaves. Avoid the temptation to be your son’s friend.
  • Maintain a long-term perspective. Boys need to know that you are with them through thick and thin.
  • Make personal disclosures to your son. Share your own experiences and feelings.
  • Keep your sense of humor.
  • Signal support for teachers when in your son’s presence. Boys take cues from parents that inform their student-teacher relationships.
  • When there is relational breakdown between you and your son, take charge as the relationship manager.
  • Signal confidence in your son’s abilities.
  • Look for common ground with your son.
  • Maintain high standards.
  • Boys often internalize stress, leading to self-destructive habits. When your son speaks, listen as patiently and non-judgmentally as you can. Doing so authorizes your son to be open and not harbor secrets.
  • Boys relate “shoulder-to-shoulder.” Find activities in which conversation can flow naturally between you and your son.