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.
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Updated   August 29, 2017 |
Schools in the NEPSAC Founders League
The New England Preparatory School Athletic Council was founded in 1942. It has grown from eleven schools to over one hundred sixty schools. More about NEPSAC and private school sports here.

The New England Preparatory School Athletic Council was founded in 1942 as an informal association of prep school athletic directors in New England. What is very gratifying to see after over 70 years is the growth of the organization from the original eleven schools to a membership currently in the 160 range. That growth is proof of the importance which private schools attach to their athletic programs. 

As I have stated many times, sports programs are not an optional extra in private schools. Sports programs are integrated fully into the education of young people in private schools which take the saying of the first century Roman poet Juvenal seriously. "Mens sana in corpore sano" which means a healthy mind in a healthy body. Private schools adopted this approach from the beginning. As a result, you won't find many private schools where sports are not compulsory. Sports are an integral component of most private school programs. Most schools set aside a weekday afternoon when the entire school engages in a variety of athletic activities. As you scan private school websites, explore the athletic offerings. One of them is sure to appeal to your youngster. Moreover, as she settles into her new school, you will soon discover that she is trying out several different sports, including some which you never thought she would try. The final point which I must make about private school sports is that they teach young people to integrate exercise into their daily lives. And that is a

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Updated   August 29, 2017 |
To Harkness or Not To Harkness
Whether a school uses the Harkness Table™ or doesn't use the Harkness Table™ is a matter of teaching style worth exploring in some detail.
My apologies to Shakespeare! Whether a school uses the Harkness Table™ or doesn't use the Harkness Table™ is a matter of teaching style worth exploring in some detail. That is what you and I shall do in this little essay.
 
What's a Harkness Table™? Well, depending on how you look at it, it is a table. Some would say it is a method. We will look at Harkness™ from all angles so that you can understand it and decide whether sending your child to a school which uses Harkness Tables™ is something you value.
 
Background/history
 
First of all, the Harkness Table™ gets its name from a wealthy philanthropist by the name of Edward Harkness. He was a graduate of historic Saint Paul's School Concord, New Hampshire. In 1930 he gave $5,840,000 (approximately $60,000,000 in 2015 dollars) to Phillips Exeter Academy with the stated purpose, among other things, of changing the way students were taught. About one third of Edward Harkness' gift was used for the tables and necessary alterations to the classrooms in which they were installed. The rest was used for a host of other projects at Exeter including the addition of new teachers and halving the class size.
 
In Harkness' own words: “What I have in mind is (a classroom) where (students) could sit around a table with a teacher who would talk with them, and instruct them by a sort of tutorial or conference method, where (each student) would feel encouraged to speak up. This would be a real revolution in methods.” 
 
Interestingly enough,
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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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