Part of the fun of parenting is that there is no owner's manual issued when your child is born. You and I buy cars, televisions, and computers with reams of documentation. But nothing came with your daughter or mine. You had to rely on your instincts, judgment, and common sense in order to raise her to become the young adult who now is poised to head off on a great adventure, namely, going off to boarding school.
Your daughter is unique. So are boarding schools. While no two schools are alike, they all share a common aim: to educate your daughter academically, spiritually, and athletically. They strive to build on the solid foundation which you have so lovingly laid over these past fourteen or fifteen years. Now it is time to let her go and advance and grow in this next important stage of her maturation.
Still, all of us parents approach the process of finding the right school with more than a little trepidation. Questions keep popping up. Some questions even nag a bit.
"How do I know which boarding school is the best one for her?"
"How can I compare schools that all seem so wonderful yet are so different?"
"How do I know that she will be prepared properly for college work?"
"Will the school see the potential which I see in my daughter or will she be just another child occupying a place?"
Take a deep breath. Trust your instincts. You possess finely-honed parental instincts. After all, these are the same instincts that have gotten you this far.
You know your child.
Instinctively you know your child. A look, an expression, a mood, or a gesture speaks volumes to you about what is really going on in your daughter's mind. Trust that instinct when you visit schools. If she adores a school and can see herself fitting in there, accept her judgment. If you don't, you will have an unhappy child. The best school for your daughter is not the one which is one of the Top Ten Schools whatever those might be anyway. Yes, those top schools really are excellent schools. The problem is that they just possibly might not be the best fit for her. They also are extremely competitive to get into. If you both decide to take a shot at one of these highly-competitive boarding schools, please hire an educational consultant. She will give you some straight talk about your chances. Listen to her professional advice. Then hedge your bets by including a safe school on your short list of schools. Doing that will prevent disappointment when the acceptance and rejection letters are sent.
This video describes a typical day at a boarding school.
Knowing what will make your child truly happy requires setting aside some of your own personal ideas and opinions. You won't set them aside completely, of course. Let your daughter work through this process on her own so that she feels as though she is a partner in this momentous decision. She needs to buy into the concept of going off to boarding school. This is another reason why you need to begin talking about the concept of going off to boarding school several years ahead of time. Start in 7th grade. Visit a school or two over the course of her middle school years so that she feels comfortable with the idea. Send her to a summer session so she feels comfortable with being away from home.
Each child is different. You know your child better than anybody. Trust your instincts.
You know what you want for your child.
Instinctively you know what you want for your child. You have spent 13 or so years shaping her mind and helping her to become this incredible hybrid she currently is: half little girl and half woman. Boarding school is just another rite of passage along the way to her becoming the confident adult you want her to be. You understand your child completely. You know what will work for her and what won't.
That is why it is so very important for you to review the schools on your shortlist carefully. Understand the schools' missions, their philosophies, what they teach, and how they teach. Discover how they differ. Examine their approach to teaching and their philosophies of education. Not everything will jibe with your own personal beliefs and way of doing things. But you ideally will want 95-100% of what you are looking for. You really do not have to settle for anything less. By the way, is it worth it?
This short video explores the answers to that question.
You know what she's good at. You know what she has not yet experienced. You know what talents and skills she has which could be developed. That means that you need to settle on schools that will satisfy her needs, while at the same time covering the ground necessary for her to succeed when she goes on to college. The more thorough her academic preparation is the better she will handle college-level academic work.
The school will have some ideas and suggestions for you to consider. But trust your instincts. You know what is best.
You know what you can afford.
Boarding schools come in a wide range of costs. If financing a tariff of $50-60k a year is not a problem for you, more power to you. If you need financial aid, start that process and discussion early on so that you have a clear idea of exactly what you can afford. Several schools offer very generous financial aid packages depending on your financial situation. An entirely free education is actually possible at several schools. There is absolutely no stigma in asking for financial aid. Just about everybody does it. It never hurts to ask.
This video offers some helpful advice about asking for financial aid.
There are also several tuition-free schools that were established and endowed by generous benefactors many years ago. One of these might work for you and your needs. As well several states have scholarship funds set up which will help defray a portion of a private school education. Most boarding schools have knowledgeable admissions staff who can answer your questions about matters financial. All you have to do is ask.
Trust your instincts. You know that you are right.
Choosing a boarding school for your child can be a daunting process. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way. Always remember that you are in the driver's seat. You are calling the shots. Approach the project with this attitude and you will achieve the results which you are looking for. You will ultimately end up with a happy child in a boarding school which genuinely appreciates her and you for who you are.
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