5 Things You Didn't Know About Boarding Schools

Updated September 14, 2016 |
5 Things You Didn't Know About Boarding Schools
Boarding schools are a subset of private schools which many people don't know much about. Here are five points to ponder as you research boarding schools.

1. There is a boarding school which will fit your requirements.

The United States and Canada have approximately 400-500 hundred boarding schools. The chances are that you will be able to find a school which will suit your requirements. Take time to determine what you are looking for in a boarding school with the person who will be attending the school, namely, your child. She needs to buy into the concept of going away to school. She also needs to understand the many benefits of a boarding school education, both in the short and in the long-term. Perhaps her first reactions will be negative because all she will see is that she is going to be losing all her friends and her family. In short, she will assume that going off to boarding school will separate her from everything she knows and loves. That's tough for a teenager to deal with.

If you plan your strategy carefully, and discuss the matter with her rather than dictating what will happen, you will quickly build consensus. After all, you only have to point out to her how you wanted her in the first place and that you have nurtured her emotionally and in every other way since birth. Hopefully, then she will trust your judgement and good sense when you put it to her that way.

Once you have her attention, discuss what she needs to build a happy and successful three or four years away at high school. Most boarding schools will accept students in 9th grade although 10th grade is the most common entry point. Is she a rider? Musician? An athlete? You will have no trouble finding a boarding school which will have all the programs and activities which she wants and needs.

2. The teachers in boarding schools will care about your child.

The advantage that a boarding school teacher has over her public school colleagues is that the boarding school teacher is with your child 24/7. Well, not literally; however, most boarding school teachers live on campus. There'll be one or more teachers living in the same building with your child. As a result, your daughter can get to know her teachers and, of course, they get to know her.

Boarding schools possess a genuine sense of community that simply is not possible to generate and maintain in a non-residential, public day school. Furthermore, your child cannot hide in a boarding school. So, if she has any issues, they will be noticed. And as those issues surface, the school will have the resources and good sense to deal with them and counsel your daughter as appropriate.

3. Boarding schools are more affordable than you think.

99% of boarding schools have financial aid programs. While these programs vary from school to school, the intention is to put a boarding school education within reach of any child who has the academic ability to do the work. The important thing for you to understand is that if you need financial aid in order to send your daughter off to boarding school, all you need to do is to ask. There is the usual paperwork involved to prove that you need help. Boarding schools seek to attract children from every strata of society. Boarding schools are not just for rich kids any more.

4. You don't have to worry about your child while she is at boarding school.

Supervision is part of the deal when you send your child off to boarding school. 24/7 supervision. Think of the school as your replacement. The legal term is in loco parentis. The campus will be secure. Entrances are locked and monitored. Staff will be on the premises. She will be safe.

Another thing about which we parents worry is our child's eating habits. The food at boarding schools is professionally cooked. It is nutritious and often served family style with faculty and students sharing communal meals.

Can she watch TV? Listen to her iPod? Talk on her cellphone? Sure. The only caveat is that she will not be allowed to do any of those things exclusively. She will have homework to do, extracurricular activities to attend, sports to participate in and much more to cram into her day. Her life at boarding school will be structured. It will be organized, not regimented. Because everybody else will be doing the same things, your daughter won't feel like she has been singled out to do three hours of homework as a punishment. The same thing applies to two hours of field hockey practice. She and her classmates will be so involved in activities of all kinds that they won't feel more scheduled than any teen does.

5. Your child will learn to love learning.

This fact may or may not be high on her list of priorities. But it is certainly at the top of your list. The great thing about learning in a boarding school is that the teachers don't have to teach to a test. No Child Left Behind and the laws which follow it are not part of the boarding school academic scene. Each boarding school designs its academic curriculum which always exceeds and state and local requirements as far as core subjects are concerned. Boarding schools know that academics matter greatly to the families who patronize them. 

As part of your search process, review the curricula in depth. In most instances you will find that your child will do far more academic work each year than she would in even a top public school. Another point to consider is that boarding schools offer academic courses not commonly found in public schools. Foreign languages such as Mandarin and extensive performing arts offerings are not extras in private school. They are part of the mix of academics, extracurricular activities, and athletics which a school feels it must offer to develop your child's fullest potential.

No matter which boarding school you choose, you can be assured that the teachers have been carefully selected, not only for their strong education and academic work in their chosen field but also for their love of teaching teenagers. Teaching styles do vary from school to school. Review that important aspect of each school as you make your visits. You will like what you see and hear in most cases.

Questions? You can contact me via Twitter. @privateschl


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