A Conversation About Boarding Schools

A Conversation About Boarding Schools
Explore the world of boarding schools through this insightful article, covering topics such as academic excellence, campus life, safety measures, specialized teaching for learning differences, and alumni experiences. Discover the advantages of boarding schools and gain valuable insights for choosing the right educational path for your child.

Here is a compilation of the various concerns and questions I have fielded from readers. Don't hesitate to DM me on Facebook or Instagram with your questions. I will do my best to answer them.

Tell me about the advantages of sending my daughter to a boarding schools.

Your child will build a network of friends that she will have for life. The demands of rigorous academic studies combined with compulsory athletics and required extracurricular activities will stretch her ways you never thought possible. She will build confidence in her own abilities as she accomplishes things she probably didn't realize she could accomplish. You will know that your child is receiving a comprehensive and balanced education consisting of academics, sports and extracurricular activities.

How do I know which school is the best one?

You determine that by comparing schools. So, make lists of schools. Review their websites. Watch their videos. Check out their social media pages pages. Did you find any that offer the academic subjects, sports, and extracurricular activities you feel are essential for your child? Put those schools on another shorter list. Then visit those three or four schools. The visit and interview will reveal much about each school. Then apply to the schools with the best fit.

I want my daughter to have great teachers.

Teachers want to teach. They love their subject. They know it inside and out at the level at which they have been teaching. They know all the tricks and ways to light our children's academic fires. Children are born curious. As they mature, we can nurture that curiosity or we can discourage it. Boarding schools typically encourage their students' love of discovery and learning. As I have said so many times, it's cool to be smart in a private school.

Boarding schools foster academic success through small class sizes, dedicated faculty, and specialized programs such as Advanced Placement and the International Baccalaureate. Best of all, your child's classmates want to learn just like she does.

Is life at a boarding school all work and no play?

One of the components of a quality private school education is sports. Many private schools offer athletic programs that rival many colleges and universities. Lest you get the wrong idea, academics are paramount in a private school experience. But private schools truly do adhere to the ancient motto mens sana in corpore sano - a healthy mind in a healthy body. Consequently, even the most unathletic students in any private school community must do some kind of sport regularly. Many boarding schools have a half day on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The afternoons are given over to athletics. Add into the mix of extracurricular activities, and you begin to see that boarding school is not all work and no play.

Here's a look at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

What if she gets sick or is homesick?

Boarding schools operate in loco parentis, a Latin phrase that translates roughly as "In place of parents." As a result, schools offer comprehensive wellness and support services, including counseling, health care, academic tutoring, and extracurricular mentorship. Will she miss you? Will she have bouts of homesickness? Sure. But the homesickness will abate as she makes new friends, gets involved with extracurricular activities and sports, and generally becomes an active part of the community.

I want my daughter to have classmates from all strata of society, not just kids from well-off families.

More than a quarter of all private school students are students of color or international. Private schools are generally more diverse than public schools. They actively seek diversity and draw from many geographic areas. In contrast, local schooling options depend on neighborhood living patterns where populations tend to concentrate along ethnic or socio-economic lines. Also, private schools create more meaningful opportunities for different students to interact with one another. Students are constantly surrounded by a diverse population, whether in the classrooms, on playing fields, or in an extracurricular activity.

Any suggestions for helping her make the transition from her home to living away from home?

First of all, going off to boarding school has to be her idea. So, have the discussions over a period of weeks and months, two years before you are thinking of sending her off to school. If she is a rider, ensure you have looked at boarding schools with excellent equestrian programs and facilities. If she plays an instrument, visit schools that have fine musical programs. and so on. Chat with her about your experiences of leaving home and how you coped with moving on to the next stages of your life. Finally, let her know that you are always there for her.

I'd like to pay for everything upfront.

This means that you write one check for the entire year’s tuition. Some schools will give you a cash discount when you pay the entire bill upfront. Paying tuition in one payment usually covers everything except the sundries. Sundries are charged for riding lessons, elective courses, athletic activities, music lessons, and so on. Most schools will bill you monthly for those charges.

How safe are boarding school campuses?

You never let your child out of your sight when she was an infant. When she started socializing, you were very careful about where she went and with whom. So why would you want to start worrying about whether your child is properly supervised while at boarding school? In most cases, schools have perimeter security systems and protocols in place. Entering a private school campus and its buildings requires you to identify yourself to a guard at an entry gate. Access control is the front line of defense in most schools. You can no longer just walk into a school building. Perimeter security and access control are staples of 21st-century school security. In addition, security cameras record activity just about everywhere. Furthermore, a faculty member or faculty couple will live in the same dorm where she sleeps. 24/7 supervision is always the rule.

I'm considering sending her to a girls' school.

It's an option worth considering. Girls' schools understand the way girls learn. They create an environment where girls are constantly exposed to positive examples of what they can be. Furthermore, they are shown the path to those goals. Nothing is left to chance. Girls' schools know that success doesn't just happen. Success occurs in a long series of small steps over time. The end result is a high school graduate who knows what she wants and how to get there.

My father is a retired Naval Commandant. What about her attending a military school?

All boarding schools have structure. It's something that comes from years of educating young people in a residential environment. But military schools take structure to an even higher level. The structure goes hand in hand with discipline. Structure and discipline sound rigorous, and they are. If your child is accustomed to doing whatever she wants whenever she wants to, the structure that a military school offers will take some getting used to. Think of structure as the organization that allows discipline to produce results, and you understand how military schools work. Understanding how to attain goals and results begins with developing basic skills. If you think that there is perhaps a bit too much rigidity in all of this, just remember that discipline and structure are the frameworks for growth. Your child’s growth.

This video offers a look at The Culver Academies in Culver, Indiana.

My daughter has a mild form of dyslexia. Will the school provide the specialized teaching she will need?

At the first sign that their child has a learning difference, many parents panic and withdraw into a state of denial. That may help you. But it will not help your child. Your child's teachers know what to look for. As a rule, the signs of a child with learning issues are fairly obvious. While teachers may not know how to treat the disorder professionally, they are trained to alert parents and the school administration when they suspect your child has a learning issue. Many boarding schools have skilled teachers and programs available to educate young people with learning differences and other special needs. Ask about the school's programs upfront.

Please share thoughts from some alumni with me.

Best thing is if you want to go. I pressed my parents to send me. They didn’t want me to leave home. We loved each other, and I was an only child. But I wanted to go into the Navy and learn about naval school; so they let me go...Ben

I went for 9th-12th grades. At first, I struggled, but by 12th grade, it was like home to me...Nancy

Outstanding school, wonderful experience. The only regret is I was only able to spend my senior year there...Curt

A wonderful education and, although the boarding rules were strict, I made lifelong friendships!...John

Men of Integrity are hard to find these days - but there were many at Choate - I graduated in 1959....Tim

My opinion is that it is the best school in the world, the best organization of living in the campus, the education you offer to students and the recommendation that students receive, thank you The Lawrenceville School ...Maja

I travel a lot but want to help in any way I can.

You must be alert, involved, and supportive at every stage of your child's education. Don't be controlling. Gradually loosen the reins so that your child understands how to make choices and decisions and abide by the consequences of those choices and decisions. If she gets the idea that mommy will always be there to fix things, you will create an irresponsible adult. If she understands that mommy will be supportive rather than judgemental, you will create a responsible, loving adult. Work with the school to achieve these ends.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @boardingschoolreview

#BoardingSchools #PrivateEducation #AcademicExcellence #LifeAtBoardingSchool #GirlsSchools #MilitarySchools #LearningDifferences #AlumniTestimonials

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