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.
View the most popular articles in School Life:
Updated  January 01, 2018 |
A Partnership of Three
The essence of a private school education is that strong partnership forged between school, parent and child.

Sending your child off to boarding school is not as simple as dropping him off at school, giving him a teary hug and kiss and then driving back home. Sending your child off to boarding school requires that you honor the contractual commitment which you signed when you decided to accept the school's offer of a place. Remember that binding, legal document called a contract? In it you agreed to a partnership of three: the school, you and your child. Let's look at what this arrangement involves.

The School's Obligation

The school spells out its obligations in great detail both on its website and in the various printed brochures and catalogs. The admissions staff will also discuss the school's various programs and school life with you when you visit and have your admissions interview. Most importantly, the school lists its obligations in the contract which you and the school signed.

1. The school will offer the academic instruction spelled out in its various materials. And it will ensure that the teaching is of the highest order. You expect nothing less. Private schools take academics very seriously. You won't have to worry about what will happen if the French teacher suddenly takes sick and has to withdraw. Her replacement will be in place quicker than you can say "Je ne sais quoi".

2. The school will act in loco parentis while your child is in its care. It takes its responsibility very seriously. Their students' safety and well-being are paramount at all

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Updated  June 08, 2016 |
Why Small Class Sizes Work
Small class sizes are one of the main reasons why you send your child to boarding school. Here's why small class sizes work.
Small class sizes work. In fact, small class sizes are one of the main reasons why you send your child to boarding school. Here are some reasons why small class sizes are so important.
 
1. There's nowhere to hide in a small class.
 
Imagine your child is in a large high school class of 30-35 students. She's not good at math. Most of the students in her class don't understand math and could care less about it. So your daughter hangs out in the back of the class, keeps quiet and tries to pay attention. The distractions and cutting up going on around her mitigate against any meaningful learning. Your daughter falls further and further behind in math. Sadly, public school class sizes are increasing as school districts struggle with budget deficits. Class sizes of 30-35 students are common.
 
Contrast that learning environment with 12-14 students seated around a Harkness Table in a boarding school. A Harkness Table is an oval table. The teacher sits at the table with his students. Immediately students are placed in a situation where they have no choice but to engage and interact with each other and with their teacher. A Harkness table creates a climate for learning. This video discusses teaching in large versus small classes.
Implicit in the small teaching groups is a climate of tolerance. The views of each individual are expressed. The critical thinking skills are practised and polished precisely because the small group allows time for that. Large groups
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Updated  August 17, 2017 |
Parents' Biggest Worries About Boarding School
As you consider sending your child off to boarding school, you have concerns. Every parent does. We address some of those concerns for you.
One of our parental prerogatives is to worry about our children. That's probably because your child never came with an instruction manual and as a result, you have had to learn so many things about parenting simply by being a parent. No matter, worry is part of the parental landscape. Now, if you are thinking about sending your child off to boarding school, your worries will be quite specific. Probably along the lines of the follow questions.

Will my child be safe?

Boarding schools take your child's safety very seriously. Contractually a boarding school functions in loco parentis which is a legal way of stating that the school acts in the place of the parent when it comes to supervision of its students, your child included.
 
Here is an overview of Pomfret School in Pomfret, Connecticut.
 


In many respects, your child is a whole lot safer at school where she cannot drive or go to somebody's house and get into who-knows-what. Drugs, drinking, and smoking are not permitted in a boarding school. Zero tolerance is the rule. Does it prevent teens from pushing the limits and experimenting? That's impossible, of course, as any parent knows. However, the limits are strictly proscribed and teens learn to respect those limits and rules or face the consequences. These are good lessons to learn.

Will she have time to herself?
 
Yes. Of course. Part of the structured life in a boarding school is downtime. Everybody needs
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Updated  July 26, 2017 |
Sustainable Schools
Sustainable schools have become a part of our 21st century educational fabric.

By now, after two decades into the 21st century, it is obvious even to the most jaded, cynical people out there that we have to rethink how we live and function on this planet which we call Earth. We are discovering that Earth's resources are finite. We are finally realizing that we must conserve energy. We are rethinking the cost of goods and services regarding their carbon footprint. Sustainability is no longer a theory. It is a concept which is being put into daily practice.

That's why it is very encouraging to see so many private schools making progress towards developing sustainable schools. For schools, sustainability involves not just the wise use of energy and foodstuffs, but it also the prudent management of a school's fiscal resources and more. The National Association of Independent Schools has published an excellent white paper entitled Sustainability: Creating 21st Century Sustainable Schools. Let's look at the five areas of sustainability which this document puts forth. The NAIS calls these 'dimensions' which is an apt description. 'Area' implies a confined space. 'Dimension' speaks to the vastness of the challenge and the scope of the solution.

Financial Sustainability

Simply put, financial sustainability is all about drawing a line and setting responsible limits. It doesn't matter whether you have $100,000 in the bank or $900 million in your savings account. Schools need to use all the expertise and tools available to them to control expenses and maximize the use of every dollar of income available to them. This

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Updated  May 24, 2016 |
Reflections on Sending Our Daughter to Boarding School
Are you thinking about sending your daughter off to boarding school? Go for it!
We went our eldest daughter off to boarding school in 10th grade. That was back in the 80s. While the times were most certainly different from the 21st century, our motivation for making such a major decision would be the same today as it was back then. Let me tell the story which I hope will give you the courage to send your daughter (or son, for that matter) off to boarding school. It's well worth it.

Our Rationale
We were busy parents with careers and two children. The girls were five years apart. One in junior high. The other in elementary school. We lived in a little town in northwestern Connecticut. You had to drive ten miles to get to anything. Literally. While the regional high school was doing a good job, it was limited in the number of academic courses and extras which it could provide our daughter. Not only that, she had to be driven everywhere to participate in sports or extracurricular activities. With those factors looming large, we sat down one day with her and asked "What do you think about going off to boarding school?" There was a rather enthusiastic acceptance of the idea. Probably because she realized that she would no longer be trapped in her circumstances. It would be a chance to see something different. To experience something new.

Our Boarding School Exploration Process
Looking back, I cannot honestly call it a school search process. There was no Internet via
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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