What are Boarding Schools?
A boarding school is an educational establishment where children live on the campus while receiving education. Boarding is used to imply "room and board" or accommodation and food. Boarding schools are not a modern concept and have existed since the past across the world. Boarding schools are also known as residential schools. Certain boarding schools also include day students who attend classes during the day and return home in the evenings. Boarding school students are called boarders. Such residential schools are relatively more common in countries like the United Kingdom (UK), India, China, and Africa.
Also Read: Boarding School Education: Redefining the Educational Experience
Benefits of Admitting your Child to a Boarding School
There are numerous benefits to studying away from home in an environment conducive to learning. Here are some of them:
- Teaches children discipline, decision making and socialisation: Due to the way boarding schools operate, students have to learn to be independent and manage multiple priorities such as personal goals, and curricular and co-curricular activities on their own. Boarders learn to socialise with a diverse range of peers since they live together. This leads to better opportunities for networking and personal development. Time management, work ethic, stress management and independence are some qualities essential for boarders living away from home.
- Less distraction: Boarding schools are designed to be conducive to learning. This has been shown by research that students in boarding schools perform better academically than students in traditional day schooling institutions. Boarders can focus better on their education due to fewer available distractions such as television, video games, phones etc. They also have a higher motivation to study because their peers follow the same routine and have a fixed time to study.
- Better supervision and care: Residential schools provide more supervision than traditional day schools. Parents who have demanding jobs or find it difficult to look after their children throughout the day due to various reasons can opt for boarding schools. Boarding schools have experienced dorm heads and caretakers to ensure that the child is safe. Such institutions don't just educate but also nurture their students.
There are therapeutic boarding schools and alternative boarding schools made for students that require additional care such as children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, autism, mental disorders, behavioural difficulties, trauma, or other needs. Institutions certified for such additional care have proper facilities and caregivers to teach such children better-coping skills and overcome challenges.
Should you Opt for a Boarding School?
Although boarding schools provide a better learning environment and more guidance, deciding whether you should opt for it can be difficult. Children go through a lot of changes after going to boarding schools since they are expected to be more independent and capable of looking after themselves. Here are some guidelines you can follow to make this decision easier:
- Find your child's mindset regarding boarding schools: Any decision regarding your child's future should be made while considering your child's mindset, compatibility and personality. Shy and anxious children might find it difficult to get along with other students and in unfamiliar environments initially. For such children, try to get them used to the idea of joining a boarding school and have them accompany you to the campus a few times before the shift.
- Don't use boarding school as a threat or punishment: Many parents often threaten their children with the idea of sending them to a boarding school. This will make the child feel abandoned and angry or guilty. Such children are more prone to increased misbehaviour and further problems. A good way to avoid this would be to clearly communicate and inform your child about the reasons behind sending them to a boarding school. By allowing your child to be a part of the discussion, you can ensure that he or she settles more easily when they shift.
- Be clear on what you expect your child to gain: Perhaps you want to give your child better academic opportunities than those available in your vicinity, to inculcate a sense of independence or better personality development opportunities. Certain boarding schools also provide specialised training such as world-class sports facilities or better artistic opportunities. Based on your child's interest and the kind of opportunities you want your child to get, you can decide whether going to a boarding school would be a good decision or not.
How to Break the News to the Child?
- Create a comfortable environment: Talk to your child in a relaxing environment without any distractions. Having a heart to heart with your child will avoid making him or her feel abandoned or angry about being sent away.
- Communicate your reasons: Honestly inform your child about why you think a boarding school could be a good option. It could be because he or she requires more care that you can't currently provide, for better opportunities, or to avoid distractions. Try not to make your child feel guilty or incapable when you bring up how a boarding school can make him or her better.
- Keep an open mind: Let your child tell you how they feel about this decision. If they have any concerns, address them and come up with solutions together. Hear out your child properly so that there are no unresolved issues or misunderstandings.
- Try to involve the child in the decision-making process: Ask your child if they have any requirements or desires about their boarding school. You can also share your boarding school choices with your child to get any opinions from him or her.
How to Help your Child Prepare for Boarding School?
- Encourage independence: Your child will be expected to do a lot of things on his or her own in the boarding school in addition to trying to settle in an unfamiliar environment. A good way of avoiding additional stress would be to encourage your child to do things independently in advance. Make a routine and set some personal responsibilities to inculcate independence.
- Help avoid homesickness: When away from home and family for the first time any child is bound to feel homesick at first. To avoid adverse distress, you can include certain special objects such as a beloved plush or a blanket.
- Adopt a positive attitude: Children are sensitive to the feelings of their family members. Instead of worrying about sending a child away, try to adopt a more positive attitude so that the child looks forward to the change.
- Help the child pack: Involve the child in buying supplies and making a list of needed things. Pack his or her bags together. This will make the situation feel more "real" for the child and will allow him or her to properly face the decision.
- Keep communicating: Your child will probably have a lot of mixed feelings about this decision. Try to be open-minded and patient with all their questions and feelings. Tell your child that he or she will be able to talk to you even after going to boarding school.
Check Out: Boarding Schools vs Day Schools: Make an Informed Decision
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