Ideally, a private school education is a partnership. The school, parents, and student comprise this partnership. What makes this partnership unique is that all partners must work together for the best interests of a young person. In addition, each partner has a specific role to play and items to take care of. So, let's examine the three partners and their roles and obligations implicit in this arrangement, which makes a private school education a good value.
This video discusses effective parent-teacher communication.
Motivation Obviously, the school wants the partnership to work for several reasons. First, successes enhance the school's reputation. The academic marketplace is always competitive unless, of course, the school happens to be located ten miles from the James Bay. Word of mouth within a community spreads word of both successes and failures. I realize that some will interpret word of mouth as gossip, but most parents do their own diligence. They can distinguish between those with an ax to grind and the truth. Furthermore, parents visit schools and see for themselves and ask questions.
Contractual The contractual agreement the school signs with parents spells out its obligations. Private schools are unique. So, the contract you signed at another school will be very different from the one your child's current school requires you to sign. Review it carefully, and, if warranted, have your legal advisor review it.
Academic Academics, the curriculum, and how it's taught are why most parents send their children to a private school. That's one of the reasons you will find detailed information about academics prominently featured on the school's website. Schools are proud of their academics and their teachers.
Encouragement The school will have various tools and methods to monitor academic and personal performance. Students can hide little from the practiced scrutiny of a private school's professional and administrative staff. As a parent, you can know your child's state of mind. The school operates the same way, except the staff have seen a greater variety of situations and know how to deal with them.
Trust The school trusts that you will keep your part of the agreement and perform to the best of your ability. That trust is grounded in its experience with hundreds of families.
Support The school offers a wide variety of support services. It wants its students to be successful and, above all, happy while away from home. In addition to the usual health services, most schools offer help with things like academics. One of the distinct advantages every boarding school has is being able to spot when students need help. Schools take their role of in loco parentis (in place of the parent) seriously.
Open lines of communication The school will digitally advise you of both good and bad news. Email, posts on social media, and text messages will help keep you in the loop. The school expects you to respond and acknowledge messages as necessary. In addition, it will communicate important information of a more serious nature via phone, an in-person conference, or by letter.
Speaking as a parent who sent two children to boarding school, I appreciated my prompt response whenever I had an inquiry.
Contractual Parents need to understand that there is no such thing as students' rights in a private school. Why not? Because the contract covers rights and obligations you have signed with the school. As a result, the consequences for breaking the rules can be swift and without appeal.
This video explains contract basics.
Academics The wide range and depth of subjects available in a private school can overwhelm. I recommend letting your child explore her academic options. Perhaps you didn't think robotics would appeal to her, but she might discover that robotics is her passion. She'll never know until she tries it. So, encourage her academic explorations. Don't discourage them.
Encouragement There will be times when you feel like rushing to the school to deal with some situation. But, unless it is life-threatening, let the school handle it. It's always tempting to be a helicopter parent. Sending your child off to boarding school is a proven remedy for that.
Trust It's not easy learning to trust others. But don't let negative thoughts and feelings get the better of you. The school deserves your trust because you did your due diligence and know it has decades of experience working with young people. Your child will have many eyes to ensure that she remains supervised and safe.
Support Your support takes two forms: support for your child and the school. Support for your child can be as mundane and practical as ensuring her sundries account is replenished. Listening to her concerns and complaints with your usual well-tuned filters would also be best. The school would have called if things were as bad as she claims.
Open lines of communication Always be available. Monitor text messages, calls, and emails from the school. Help the school by recommending it to friends and acquaintances.
It's not easy leaving your home and the friends and family you have known for as long as you can remember. However, going off to boarding school is a rite of passage that can be essential for your transition from childhood to adulthood if you will allow it to be.
Contractual Contracts may as well be written in Sanskrit as far as a teenager is concerned. So, heed your parents' instructions and the school's rules carefully. Your rights at the school are set out in the contract with the school. If you commit a serious infraction of the rules, the consequences will be swift and without appeal.
Academic Perhaps you are smart enough to see the school's academic opportunities. A Spanish teacher who is a native speaker with a masters' degree in Spanish language and literature; a technology teacher who writes apps and knows how to edit film scores; and so on. Explore. Observe. Learn.
Encouragement Unlike the public school you may have attended, your classmates are students who are there to learn. So be a nerd. But be a compassionate, helpful nerd who reaches out to a classmate who doesn't understand the subject as well as you.
Trust You know that your parents love you. While this new experience of being away from home and making new friends can be unsettling and, at times, uncomfortable, trust your parents. And, most of all, trust the school acting in place of your parents.
Support After you graduate, remember to support your alma mater as your resources allow. Your school gave you a solid foundation for your future life and endeavors. Pay it back according to your means.
Open lines of communication While your school's staff is very good at supervising and monitoring you and your fellow students, it is not a mind-reader. So, speak up when you are upset, angry, depressed, or concerned about things. Likewise, let your dorm parents know what's going on.
As I stated at the beginning of this article, the partnership of school, parent and student is the primary reason boarding schools can successfully provide an excellent education. Respect and enable that partnership. You will be glad you did.
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