The decision to send a child to boarding school is never an easy one for most loving parents. There’s the expense, of course, and the knowledge that the youngster will be missing from the family circle for weeks at a time. Then, there’s the possibility that the child will be unhappy as the result of homesickness or bullying.
But these considerations can be balanced against the knowledge that boarding schools may offer challenges and rewards which many students are unable to find in their local high school, and for some parents, an education away from home may be the best option for their child.
The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) – a public body serving more than 300 boarding schools across the United States and Canada – has highlighted several distinct advantages offered by a residential education. According to surveys conducted by the organization, more than 60% of students are enrolled because of the promise of higher standards of learning, and for an increased chance to participate in extra-curricular activities.
Because of the shared space, students at these schools generally have closer interactions with their teachers than other students do at regular high schools, and the unique character of the campus also makes participation in after schools programmes not only easy, but also necessary at times. Boarding school students play more sport, are more likely to be involved in music and drama classes, and spend twice as much time on homework as their day-school counterparts.
Boarding schools also appear to offer increased possibilities for developing self-discipline and leadership skills, with more than three-quarters of students reporting that they were offered leadership opportunities. Being away from home creates self-reliance, and builds close ties with peers in class and elsewhere.
For parents who are thinking about long-term benefits, boarding schools help students prepare for the non-academic side of college, while the solid educational grounding helps them to succeed in their tertiary courses. TABS’ figures suggest that in the workplace, boarding school graduates gain more top management positions than do students from other schools.
How is all this achieved? To begin with, the bar is necessarily set high for staff and students, as positive results are essential to the ongoing viability of the boarding school. Most parents won’t consider sending a child away unless the school has a solid record of developing successful young men and women. Boarding schools work hard to secure experienced teachers who will give 100%, while the close-knit culture often results in increased motivation among students.
Second, many moms and dads simply don’t have the time to give their child the time which they need in order to reach their full potential. Boarding schools do.
Third, and perhaps most important of all, boarding schools are able to teach to the whole child in a way that other schools are unable to, either because of time restrictions or a shortage of resources. Yes, boarding schools do cost – and often cost a lot – but the money is channelled back into providing a comprehensive and well-rounded education for every student.
Many parents will be unable to afford the boarding school option, while others will be perfectly happy with their local school. But for children who have the chance to experience a residential education, there can be undeniable short-term, and long-term benefits.