School Life

For boarding school students, and many teachers, the campus is home. Explore dormitory living, get expert advice on learning and living away from home and learn more about what can be done to help your child transition to and succeed in boarding school. Find resources for parents, teachers and students. We’ll cover sustainability, boarding school jargon, and corporal punishment. Read first-hand accounts from parents of boarding school students, find graduation gift ideas, and learn why small classes are effective.
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Updated   August 29, 2017 |
Packing for School
What are you allowed to bring to boarding school? What are you not allowed to bring to boarding school? Answers to those questions and more.
Here's what we are looking at. Your daughter heads off to boarding school in a two months. She's got a horse and a cello and a raft of sports equipment including skis and field hockey sticks. You're going to need a truck to get her to school, right? It all depends. Let's review the items and equipment schools will allow her to bring and things she should not bring. Bear in mind that every school has its own unique rules and regulations concerning what can be brought on campus and what cannot.
 
Incidentally I remember quite vividly load our Dodge Caravan full to the brim with what I can only call 'stuff'. I never knew one young lady would need so much 'stuff' when she went off to boarding school. But she and her mother had determined what she needed and what could be left at home for another trip. I was comforted to discover dozens of other over-loaded vehicles at the school when we arrived to move our daughter in. And most of the fathers looked just as bemused as I did.
 
Horses
 
Let's start with the horse. Riding is an integral part of many boarding school athletic programs. If riding is important to your child, investigate the equestrian programs offered by the schools which you are considering. Our daughter had ridden in seventh and eighth grades. Fortunately for us, her interest in that expensive pursuit had waned by the time she was ready to go off to boarding school.
 
The following
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Updated   May 25, 2016 |
Why Choose a Boarding Summer Program
Most boarding schools offer summer programs running about two weeks. Some answers to your questions about what's involved.
Most boarding schools offer summer programs running about two weeks. If your child needs help with a subject like math, for instance, she will be able to find it. Ditto with enrichment. Summer boarding programs offer a special opportunity to sample a variety of subjects in a residential setting away from home.
 
Behind the scenes
 
Boarding schools run professionally staffed, fully insured and properly licensed programs. They have been doing it for years. They understand how to supervise young people. That's because they do it all year long.
 
The teachers are generally drawn from the school's academic team with adjunct faculty added as necessary for special programs. The support staff including kitchen and security professionals are usually the same team you will find on duty when school is in session. All these professionals have passed background checks.
 
Boarding schools have found that summer programs make good use of facilities which would otherwise be idle for several months over the long summer vacation. They also have learned that summer programs provide an agreeable soft introduction to the concept of going away to boarding school. Many parents send their children to a boarding school summer program to see how they will like it. Next thing they know their son or daughter is asking if they can go to that wonderful boarding school. Here is an example of what I mean.
What about the amenities?
 
Are meals provided? What are the meals like? Most schools offer three meals a day. Snacks are also available.
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Updated   May 26, 2017 |
What's the Food Like?
You child will have many questions about boarding school. Here is one way to handle those inevitable questions and concerns.
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

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Updated   July 26, 2017 |
What Happens When.....
Here are some answers to the more common concerns we parents have when our child goes off to boarding school.
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
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Updated   February 10, 2016 |
What's Your Marketing Team Doing This Summer?
The ideas and suggestions offered here are aimed at the small to medium-sized schools which have limited marketing resources.
Summer is often an ideal time for administrators in a private school to take stock of what worked and what didn't work in the year just finished. It makes sense for the marketing team to step back and spend a few hours reviewing their campaigns. Because marketing sometimes feels more like an art than a science, it is even more important to examine the tools which your school is using. This is what prompted me to ask what your marketing team is doing this summer. 
 
In particular the ideas and suggestions which I offer here are aimed at the small to medium-sized schools which have limited marketing resources. My long years of observing and writing about private schools have taught me that these small to medium-sized schools are hidden gems. Their message deserves to be heard and seen. Hopefully using social media effectively will make that a reality.
 
Boarding schools offer unique marketing challenges.
 
Whether yours is a small or large school, you have to get your message out. Getting your school's message out is made tougher by the mere fact that yours is a residential school. There aren't many boarding schools in the United States anyway and they tend to be misunderstood by most people especially the media. Ask about boarding school outside your circle of friends and acquaintances. The answers you will get are precisely the challenges which you as the marketing professional must overcome. "Those schools are just for rich kids." "That's where you send a kid who doesn't
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School Life

For Parents

This section covers issues and concerns for parents of boarding school students. Explore corporal punishment, get expert advice on preventing hazing, and read first-hand accounts from parents. Learn what to do if things go wrong, see what boarding school students do in the summer, and get words of wisdom from a reluctant parent.

For Students

Here you’ll gain knowledge about student life at boarding school. User our glossary of terms to learn boarding school jargon, discover the importance of a partnership between school, parent and child, and find great gift ideas for the boarding school graduate.

For Teachers

The articles in this section are related to teaching at a boarding school. Learn more about what is being taught, why small class sizes work, and the impact of sustainability on boarding schools. You’ll find a list of eBooks about boarding schools, be able to view pictures of boarding school life, and explore course offerings.

For Administrators

Advice and strategies for running your school