Is Boarding School Right for Your Child?
Is boarding school right for your child? Honestly, it probably is. But you will never know until you explore the idea thoroughly. I advise you to tune out the negative things you read about boarding schools. After all, the media tends to focus on sensational stories which hardly show boarding schools as they really are. Go see for yourself. A quick call or an email is all it takes to make an appointment for a visit. The other consideration which keeps many parents from even considering a boarding school education is the cost. Schools have very generous financial aid programs. The admissions staff at any boarding school will be only too happy to explain how financial aid works.
Now that we have those considerations out of the way, answer these questions to help you make that important decision about sending your child off to a residential school.
1. Do you want to stretch your child?
If you are content with the status quo, then boarding school is probably not a good idea. Why? Because by going to boarding school your child will be embarking on an incredible adventure. She will be exposed to all kinds of new ideas and different points of view. She will be able to select academic courses which will enrich and challenge her. She will be in small classes where she cannot hide in the corner. Her opinion and ideas will matter. Her strengths will be expanded. Her weaknesses will be addressed in a positive environment. This short video from Emma Willard School gives you an idea of the experience which awaits your daughter.
The stretching occurs because she will simply do more academic work at boarding school than if she were in a public school with its large classes. Moreover, the students who attend boarding school want to be there. She will be surrounded by highly-motivated students who want to learn.
2. Do you want her to have sports opportunities fall, winter and spring?
It's a major difference between public and private schools. Stories about public school budgets being cut are everywhere. The first things to get cut are sports, arts and extracurricular programs. They are often considered extras. Not at a boarding school. The athletics program at Woodberry Forest School is an example of what I am talking about.
Boarding schools have long subscribed to the idea that education works best when there is balance. Academics, sports and the extracurricular activities which are part of every boarding school's program make this philosophy work very well.
3. Do you want him to be with other young people who are serious about achieving something?
A parent's worst nightmare is that your child will fall in with the wrong crowd. While things like substance abuse and inappropriate behavior of all kinds are worrisome enough, so is the idea that your child will hang out with kids who have no goals, no dreams, and no aspirations. Boarding school offers a safe haven for your child, to be sure. But it also puts him in the company of children who want to achieve something in life, who want to be the best and who aspire to greatness. Boarding schools educate the whole child. They don't just teach them how to solve an algebra equation or how the stock market works. They educate the whole child and strive for a balanced approach to accomplish that objective.
Boarding schools are able to attract young people who want to learn because they have selective admissions. Students have to be able to meet the school's requirements before they are offered a place. The admissions requirements vary from school to school, as each school is a separate corporate entity with its own board and administration, and, most importantly, its own unique approach to education.
4. Do you want her to develop a network of friends which she will have for life?
We adults understand the importance of networks more than ever in these tough economic times. Networks of friends and acquaintances who know you, understand you and can vouch for you are one of the lasting benefits of a boarding school experience. When you live with your classmates 24/7, you really get to know them. You also appreciate them, and, even more important, learn to get along with them. The diverse nature of most boarding school populations these days means that your child has the potential for a network of friends which literally could stretch around the world.
5. Do you want her to be taught by talented, experienced teachers who are passionate about their subject?
Boarding schools seek out talented, experienced teachers who have first and second degrees in their subject or subjects as opposed to having a degree in education. A teacher who has majored in French and Spanish and graduated summa cum laude is the sort of teacher most boarding schools will snap up rather than the teacher who did an education degree with a couple of French courses as electives. 'Education lite' is not what boarding schools want. his brief video from Exeter Academy explains this concept succinctly.
Consequently, you will see schools proudly advertising the fact that 80% (or whatever the specific percentage is) of their faculty have advanced degrees.
If you have gotten this far and want to find out more about boarding schools, you are in the right place. Boarding School Review offers hundreds of profiles for you to explore. Take the virtual tours. Look at the pictures. Then go visit the schools which appeal to you. You will be glad that you did.
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