Boarding schools are exceptionally expensive, but if you are in the lucky position where it is an option, is it the right choice for your child? Each child is different and whilst some children thrive at boarding school, others loathe being away from home. Either outcome could have a lasting effect so sending your child away from home is something to consider carefully.
We thought we would offer a brief overview of some of the advantages and disadvantages of boarding school.
- Boarding schools often create stronger friendships and alumni networks which last for a lifetime.
- Children are kept at arm’s length from the parties, drinking and drugs that are sometimes more easily available to pupils at day schools.
- Children benefit from additional non-classroom contact with teachers in the evening, as well as supervised homework, music practice time and other extra-curricular activities.
- Students are kept occupied in the evening. There is less use of technology and students are often more social.
- Students tend to be more independent and confident.
- Since boarding schools charge more, they can afford to pay staff higher salaries and therefore employ more experienced teachers and other members of staff faculty.
- For the same reason, facilities and resources are also often better than they are at day schools.
- The costs are now so high – and rising – that boarding schools are often beyond the reach of all but a tiny minority of families.
- Extracurricular activities beyond those that the school offers are often marginalised. This is particularly relevant for children who have a special talent in a sport or activity not often offered by schools.
- Pressure to succeed, look good, do well is as constant at boarding as at day schools. But whereas day pupils are released each day from the echo chamber of school life, boarding pupils are not so fortunate.
- Students miss out on home life and can become homesick. Although most boarding pupils sustain great relationships with their families, homesickness can easily lead to children becoming frustrated and socially isolated, and should not be underestimated.
If you do decide to send your child to boarding school, here are some tips to make sure your child gets off to a good start:
- For children who get homesick, choose a school which offers great pastoral care, try not to speak to your child too much on the phone, and don’t let your child know that their homesickness is upsetting you.
- If your child is coming from overseas, arrive a few days early in the UK and at the school so that they have time to get used to the unfamiliar environment before everyone else arrives.
- Find out if anyone else from your child’s current school or group of friends will also be going on to the new school. Make contact with their parents and invite their child over a few times during the summer. Even if they are not in the same house or class, it will be a familiar face to bump into during break and sit with at lunchtimes, until new friendships have been formed.
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