Choosing a School: Which school offers.....?

Choosing a School: Which school offers.....?
Determining which programs are 'must haves' is an important part of choosing the right boarding school for your child.

As you begin to refine your boarding school search, you will find yourself circling back to identify the schools that offer the programs your child wants and needs. Don't forget to discuss your wants and needs with your child. She needs to buy into the idea of going off to boarding school. That way, you will end up with a child who is enthusiastic about going to private school and feels involved in the decision-making process. It will be her idea. Choose your time wisely for these essential conversations. Be an active listener. Avoid jumping in as she expresses her thoughts. Choose a relaxed, informal setting for this important conversation. Chatting with your daughter while out shopping or driving around town will be a much less confrontational experience for her than having a formal discussion.

Unlike the limited options you will find in most public schools these days, private schools offer a rich array of programs. Let's look at a few.

Foreign languages

Mandarin, Spanish, French and Italian are the most common languages offered in private schools. You will find these most often at the high school level, but they are increasingly common in the primary grades. If you want to kick it up a notch, several private schools teach everything in French, German, and Hebrew, for example. Review the curriculum section of school websites to determine which language courses they offer. You can find schools quickly by inputting "chinese language" as a search string on this site. Generally speaking, private schools that offer foreign language courses teach languages at the Advanced Placement level in grades 10 through 12.

What about classical languages such as Latin and Greek? You will still find Latin on course lists in many schools. Classical Greek, on the other hand, is not as common. If you value a world view, then review carefully the language courses offered at the schools which interest you. Being fluent in a language or two is increasingly essential in the 21st-century.

This TEDTalk discusses the importance of learning foreign languages.


If STEM is your thing, then you need to investigate the course offerings and the teachers who are doing the heavy lifting. Boarding schools are consistently ahead of the curve when it comes to STEM courses and teaching. Look for master's degrees in those disciplines. Incidentally, seeing what percentage of faculty have advanced degrees is easy to do on this site using the school comparison tool.

Studying robotics is very popular in many schools. Given the importance of this technology in manufacturing, it is a subject well worth studying in as much depth as you possibly can before you get to college. Take a look at the program which The Hill School offers.

"Engineering at The Hill School is a progressive, multi-year program that allows students to explore mechanical, electro-mechanical, and control systems and processes in a laboratory setting."

Such programs weren't even on the radar ten years ago in most schools. However, trigonometry and calculus were. It is another example of how boarding schools adapt to changing circumstances by preparing their students for the world in which they will live as adults.

This video offers an overview of STEM education.


Riding programs are something many parents insist that their children have. Most programs feature English-style riding programs and facilities but there are a few schools that also offer Western-style riding. Look at the equestrian program which The Kent School offers. It's been around for decades and is nationally recognized.

"And at Kent, it’s not just about the riding. The program centers around creating a well-rounded rider. The student learns all areas of horse management including stable management, veterinary care and conditioning needs. We strive to produce an all-around horseperson who is knowledgeable, caring, competent and exemplifies good horsemanship and sportsmanship."

You can find schools with equestrian programs here on Boarding School Review by inputting the search string "equestrian schools".


Being Canadian, I grew up with ice hockey. I was on skates from the age of 3 or 4. So I am thrilled to see the great interest in hockey in my adopted country. Many boarding schools have strong hockey programs. For example, Avon Old Farms offers a fine ice hockey program in splendid facilities.

"All practices and home games take place at Jennings-Fairchild Rink which is a well-maintained and newly-renovated facility. Brand new large locker rooms, training rooms, and physical therapy areas serve the teams well. There is a video room for teams and coaches to use to evaluate and improve their performance. A state-of-the-art weight and fitness center is used to maintain and gain strength and flexibility during the season as well as during the off-season. The student body embraces the sport of ice hockey and all games are well-attended events that help to make the atmosphere at Jennings-Fairchild rink special."

Again, input "hockey boarding schools" in the search program to find schools offering hockey programs.

Extracurricular Activities

The variety of extracurricular activities which most boarding schools offer is simply mind-boggling. Most boarding schools will offer whatever activity your child might be interested in. One of the unique things about extracurricular activities in private schools is that they are led and supervised by your child's teachers. That means that students get to see their teachers in action outside of the classroom. It's all part of the balanced approach to education in which private schools believe. Since this is an important consideration in choosing the right school for your child, take time to review the extracurricular activity programs offered. I lost count of the number of clubs offered at St. Mary's School in Raleigh, North Carolina. The school offers its students an amazing variety of club activities. This is typical of the sort of extracurricular programs that you will find in boarding schools.

"Whether you’re interested in photography, robotics, music, outdoor activities, math and science or world events, you'll find the club for you at Saint Mary's! "

This TEDTalk discusses the importance of extracurricular activities.

I have highlighted just a few programs for you to consider. There are dozens more. Have fun exploring them.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @boardingschoolreview

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