What's the Food Like?

Sending your child off to boarding school raises all sorts of important questions for your child. After all, she is a teenager. Leaving home is a major step for kids going off to college much less a kid going off in ninth or tenth grade to boarding school. And those college kids are four and five years older than she is. So be patient and be proactive. Anticipate her questions and concerns. What I strongly recommend is that you try think about what your child's questions and concerns will be. You know her like the back of your hand anyway.
 
Almost all the schools on your short list will have web sites which can answer most of her questions. For answers to her remaining or more detailed questions email the admissions offices. They will be very happy to help.
 
So, what's the food like? Food is important to teenagers. As it should be. Truth is that boarding schools have dealt with teenagers for years. They understand the kind of nutrition growing bodies need. Indeed teaching students about nutrition is something boarding schools have baked into their programs.
 
Here is an example of what I mean from the web site for St. Timothy's School, Stevenson, Maryland.

"Great food and excellent service are the hallmarks of Dining Services at St. Timothy’s School. We meet the wide rangie of tastes and meal preferences of our student body with healthy, varied and wholesome meals.  Many items are made from scratch, and homemade pastries and desserts . . . read more
As you begin to think about sending your child off to boarding school, you will find yourself asking precisely why you wish to do so. Invariably you will circle back to the main reason why you feel that your child deserves to go to private school. The main reason has everything to do with your wanting her to go to the best school she can get into. You feel that she deserves the best possible education which you can find for her.
 
What makes some schools really better than others? What makes them the best schools? Let's examine traits of the best schools.
 
Great teachers
 
This trait is at the top of my list. The best schools have amazing teachers. Their credentials are awesome. They are passionate about the subjects which they teach. They are highly qualified to teach their subjects. Explore the faculty lists on school websites. See for yourself where your child's future teachers went to college. Note how many of them have masters and doctoral degrees.

Todd Orminston, the Director of Admissions of Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine answers the question "Why should I go to boarding school?"
 

 

These great teachers know how to open new worlds for their students. Dialogue and positive reinforcement are givens with these teachers. They don't lecture and pour knowledge into your child's mind. They teach. And they teach brilliantly. Not only that but they don't just put in their hours and leave the premises. Boarding school teachers coach . . . read more
This article offers answers to some of the more common concerns we parents have when our child goes off to boarding school. Most, but not all, of these questions and their answers come from my own personal experience.
 
1. Your child is expelled?
 
Expulsion is a big deal. You will have a lot of explaining to do when you apply to another private school.  It may just be that you will have to send your child to public school for the rest of the academic year while you try to find a new school willing to take her. I have always taken the view that it is how we handle failure which is the true measure of our character. Shall we learn from our mistakes and be the success we know we can be? Or do we blame others and retreat from reality. I suspect that some counselling for both you and your child might also be helpful.
 
2. Your child is asked not to return?
 
Your child attends a boarding school on a year by year basis. You and the school sign a new contract every year in April or thereabouts. You will have already had a couple of meetings with the school before being informed that the school has decided that they do not wish to have your child back. Read the warning signs carefully and act accordingly. 
 
3. Your contract is not renewed?
 
I slipped this question and its answer in with boarding school teachers in mind. Your contract is most likely . . . read more
What makes a boarding school special? I know some of you reading this will say "the cost". No, what I have in mind are the characteristics of a boarding school which set it apart from private day schools and public schools. Back to cost, however. Let's get that out of the way. Most boarding schools have incredibly generous financial aid programs. No deserving applicant will be turned away because his family cannot afford the tuition and fees. On the other hand if $60,000 or more is a tariff which you can handle using your own resources, then the cost is not an impediment.
 
It's an adventure.
 
I happen to think that The Association for Boarding Schools got it right when it describes boarding school as an adventure. You and I as parents know that it will be an adventure in learning. At least that was always our intent when our daughters went off to boarding school. It's the new friends your child will make which are part of the adventure. These are friends who will be with her 24/7 for weeks at a time during school. These are classmates she will bring home for a weekend. I still remember as though it were yesterday when my eldest daughter arrived home for an afternoon with one of her new friends. We lived about 10 miles from the school. Her classmate was from out of state. While their laundry was in the washer and dryer, the two girls were sharing . . . read more
Every now and then the question does occur to me, as it should to you, exactly why is it that I think a certain school is one of the best schools. Inevitably I have to conclude that the best schools have all of the following characteristics. What's more they have them in abundance. Now, before you start thinking that I am only talking about older established schools, that ain't necessarily so. I am aware of a couple of newer schools which fit neatly into the category of best schools simply because they have all of the characteristics explained below. So let's take a look at what I think the traits of the best schools are.
 
Great leadership
 
The best schools have strong, dynamic, dedicated leaders. They are led by women and men who have a clear vision of what they plan to accomplish. They also have the experience to execute their plans in order to achieve that vision. The head of a best school is a superb fund-raiser. She is a capable administrator. She leads by example. She expects the best from everybody in her school community.
 

Solid support of the trustees
 
I know of several schools which could have been great. But they never made it because their fractious board of trustees kept getting in the way of progress. Change is never easy. But oftimes it seems that boards have a rather difficult time with change. That always surprise me because most board memberstend to come from business . . . read more
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Recent Articles
What's the Food Like?
What's the Food Like?
Published September 21, 2014
You child will have many questions about boarding school. Here is one way to handle those inevitable questions and concerns.
What makes some schools really better than others? What makes them the best schools?
Here are some answers to the more common concerns we parents have when our child goes off to boarding school.