Choosing a School
Deciding whether to send your child to boarding school instead of day school is a decision most of us parents make early on in the private school search process. Here is our story. I had taught in day schools and was a Deputy-Director of one of them. Nancy and I chose to send both daughters to boarding schools for the following reasons. I hope that our experience will help to inform you as you make this critical decision about which kind of private school will be best for your child.
At the time we were considering sending our children to private school we were fortunate to be living in an area which had good schools. My late wife Nancy indeed had graduated from the local high school. In fact, she was chair of the local school board when we decided to explore other options for our daughters' schooling. So it wasn't the schools per se which were the issue. Four factors shaped our decision.
The high school curriculum was solid. The teachers were experienced and competent. The school was small as high schools go, with a student population of 400 students in grades 7 through 12. There were football and basketball teams, a highly-acclaimed marching band and a couple of clubs. That, however, was what made us want more for our daughters. We wanted them to read five Shakespeare plays a year. Not just the one play a year which she learned in her current high school.
If you are thinking about sending your child off to boarding school, you should try to start your school search process as early as possible. Finding the right school takes time. The process itself is not difficult; however, it is time-consuming. For example, if you are considering getting your child into school for 10th grade, you should begin the process in the spring of 8th grade. Standardized admissions testing typically will occur in December of 9th grade. Most boarding schools have application deadlines at the end of January of his 9th grade. Schools send out acceptance letters in March of your child's 9th grade year.
Many parents think that they will have plenty of time to get everything done, but the truth is that the 18 month time frame which I am recommending flies by very quickly. Before you know it, the application deadline is around the corner. With that in mind, let's review why I feel that you need 18 months for your school search.
1. You need time to visit the schools.
Visiting schools is time-consuming. It is not enough to visit the schools virtually, although if you live abroad, that might be the only viable way of visiting schools. You must experience the school. You need to use your own eyes and ears to help you decide whether your child will be happy there for the next three years. Possibly four if he stays for a PG year. You wouldn't buy a piece of real estate without seeing it.