Boarding School

Sarah - posted on 02/12/2010 ( 32 moms have responded )

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What are your thoughts on sending your kids to Boarding School?
Boarding Schools take kids from as young as 6, do you think that's too young?
Would some kids take to it better than others?
If your child hated it, would you let them come home, or make them stick it out?
Do you think that the parental affection they miss out on is made up by the education the receive?

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Sylvia - posted on 05/23/2012

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I think it takes a certain kind of cultural conditioning to be able to feel good about sending your kids to boarding school, especially littlies. It was extremely common among certain socio-economic classes in Britain for a long time, the same socio-economic classes in which wetnurses, nurserymaids, nannies and governesses were also the norm. You can kind of see the continuum at work, right? Education was a privilege of wealth and class; if you wanted your child to get a good academic education, you could hire tutors, but if you wanted him to make useful connections and learn how to be a man among men, you probably needed to send him away to school. Or something like that. Also, people in general had more kids and thus had less time to invest in each of them anyway -- we forget how massive a change birth control has made in our conception of childhood and parenting.

Everyone I know who actually went to boarding school hated it. I used to read Enid Blyton and think how awesome it would be to go to boarding school, but if I actually had I think I'd likely have hated it too. For one thing, dormitories = no alone time, and I NEED my alone time. I can imagine sending a high-school-age kid to boarding school in certain circumstances, but not a younger kid -- *certainly* not a six-year-old, OMG.

Here in Canada we have a great examples of how boarding school can be totally evil, in the form of Indian Residential Schools. Essentially for a couple of hundred years -- and this continued until more than halfway through the twentieth century, I'm ashamed to say -- the federal government and various church groups took First Nations kids, many just barely old enough for school, away from their families to these residential schools where they weren't allowed to speak their first languages, only English or French, and in many cases were physically and sexually abused. Many didn't see their families for years at a time; many lost their home languages and had no meaningful relationships with their parents. It was a horrible, horrible thing to do, but many of the people involved I think honestly believed they were helping.

Becky - posted on 04/24/2011

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Oh boy, this could get long! Bear with me! :) I grew up in boarding school. I started when I was 9 and was there until I was 18. My parents were missionaries in West Africa and the mission organization they were with required missionaries to send their children to boarding school unless there was a suitable option (local schools were not a suitable option) in the town they lived in.
Personally, I would not do it. No way. Especially not before they were in highschool.
I was not abused in any way at boarding school. For the most part, my experiences were positive. I don't feel like I was permanently damaged and I don't resent my parents for sending me or the mission for forcing them to. But I do have quite a few issues that are directly related to being sent to boarding school - attachment issues, fear of abandonment, difficulties resolving conflict... to name a few.
My two youngest siblings were sent at 6 - actually, my little sister was a few days shy of 6 - and fared far less well than my other sister and I did. I won't get into it much to protect their privacy, but both of them have struggled quite a bit. I know of a lot of others who have as well and some who continue to struggle, almost 20 years later. I also know of some who were abused, physically and sexually.
I do think some kids would take to it better than others. I took to it fairly well. I am a more passive person, pretty independent and very adaptable.
I wouldn't send my child in the first place, but yes, if they were unhappy, I would most definitely bring them home.
No, I don't think anything makes up from being away from your parents in your formative years.

JC - posted on 05/23/2012

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As a graduate of boarding school, I would definitely allow my children to attend. But not until high school. There are certainly schools that offer boarding as young as third grade, and that is just too young in my opinion.

I attended boarding school simply because the schools in my area weren't that great. The public schools in the area were very poorly funded, and the private schools (one of which I attended) were formed mostly during the '60s to get around the anti-segregation laws. Every single person who attended the school was a WASP. Even nowadays, I think the student body makeup is basically the same. Boarding school was a great option for me because it didn't require up and moving the entire family, but it allowed for me (the already independent child) to experience things that I would not have been able to experience otherwise. I won't lie and say that it was easy. I was definitely one of the hardest experiences of my life. But I made some of my best friends at boarding school. I met some of the people who changed my life the most (both through positive and negative experiences).

One of the opportunities that I had through boarding school was to study abroad for a year through a program called School Year Abroad. I studied in France for a school year. I lived in the home of a local French family. I took classes in French. I played on the local sports teams, and frequented the local cafés and boutiques. Upon my arrival in France, I had taken two years of the language. I could get around, but not easily. Upon my return to the US, I was nearly fluent. That was one of the best experiences of my life. And something that we never would have heard about had I not gone to boarding school. (You don't have to attend boarding school to go, but the program was founded by boarding schools, and the majority of students, at least when I was attending, attended boarding school.)

That said, my current city has hundreds of schools, many of which are nationally ranked. I won't not let them go to boarding school (come high school), but I won't necessarily bring up the subject either. Not because I don't want them to go--on the contrary, I'd love for both of them to have the same great experiences that I had--but because we have education opportunities here that I did not have growing up where I did. The lack of education choice was what ultimately led me to consider (and then attend) boarding school.

One of the comments that I've seen several times in previous comments is that the parents don't want to parent their children, and thus force them off to boarding school. Boarding schools would not accept a student that they could tell didn't want to be there. But more than the prospective students, schools also look at parents to see if the parents would work well within the fabric of the school. So the parents' attitudes can affect a child's chances of getting in. Not quite so much as the child's own attitude, but it does still have an affect.

My word of warning is to not assume that boarding school (specifically high school) is the cure-all for behavioral problems. It is still high school, whether the students live on campus or not. There will always be students who think they are above the rules. I have clear memories of covering for the kid who sneaked of campus at night to go buy alcohol for the party. It was part of the unwritten school code. But that same code also said that the students who left the party before the teachers arrived would turn themselves in first thing the next day. So you learn more than just academics and sports at boarding school. You learn how to live with other people that you may not necessarily like. I felt that I was one step ahead of my college peers because I already knew how to navigate dorm life, and how to get to know professors, and how to budget my time. No, I'm not best friends with my parents, but I don't think you're supposed to be. Your parents are your parents, not you friends.

Erin - posted on 02/12/2010

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Boarding school for young children is just cruel as far as I'm concerned. Any benefit they may gain from the better teaching environment is totally negated by the social and emotional ramifications of them being away from their family. However, for teenagers I believe it can only be assessed on an individual basis.

Here in Australia, where our population is so spread out, lots of wealthy parents from the country areas send their teenagers to boarding school in the cities. This especially happens if they are identified as gifted and talented, or when they are in senior school (16-18 yrs old). I think that's completely reasonable as long as the child agrees. But forcing someone to be away from their family, even with the best of intentions, is just never a good idea IMO.

Esther - posted on 02/12/2010

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I would never in a million years consider that for a young child. However, I have a friend who's daughter REQUESTED to be sent to boarding school when she was about 14/15 or so. She's a HUGELY smart girl who is an extremely motivated student (she voluntarily takes all kinds of classes during summer breaks) and she felt that she would be more challenged if she were allowed to attend a boarding school. It has been a great experience for her. She has made a lot of very close friendships and academically speaking she has also really benefitted. So I guess I would consider that (if I could afford it).

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[deleted account]

That's a very interesting perspective, Becky. I have a friend who's parents worked in Africa as well, but she attended an international school in the city her parents were stationed. I have suffered from many of the same issues as you, but have never been to boarding school so it is possibly to suffer from issues of varying degree even when you live with your parents. I know you know this, but I think that I mightn't have had these problems (or maybe to a lesser degree) if I had gone to a boarding school. Meh, who knows? But I do thank you for enlightening me to some issues to keep in mind if I do take up the boarding school idea again.

[deleted account]

Loureen, part of me is surprised to learn that there are boarding schools here that take such young kids, but only because the few schools in Brissy I looked into only take boarders from grade 5 or 6 at the earliest.

Jenn, there are many reasons to do it. In my case, I was looking into a couple schools who have a boarding option because they are a couple of the best schools in my city, but more because if something happens to me then they can board at their school. My thinking is that at least there would continue to be one constant for them.

I also think Brieanne has a pretty good reason for boarding. She has tried all the other options she could think of for her daughter and sending her to boarding school may help.

Lastly, many people send their kids to boarding school for educational opportunity. People, who live in areas where the education is limited and have the means, send their kids so they can have the best education possible.

Jenn - posted on 04/23/2011

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I would never send my child to boarding school, and I don't understand why you would.

Alexis - posted on 04/23/2011

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I think it would depend on the child and their needs, as well as whats going on at home. I would have to really look into what the boarding school provides that is sooo great that I could let my child go for so long without me. As a teen yes, if they wanted as a child it better be top notch, full of extra curricular, big time advantages and I get to see him on the weekends to let him go, if he wanted. But their are so many private and charter schools in my area that are excellent I don't see why I would do that.

Charlie - posted on 04/23/2011

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Oh and I think if a teen asks to go then that is different to being sent there .

Charlie - posted on 04/23/2011

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Yeah that can be a good thing if its a bit topsy turvy at home , I agree .

Quite a few schools take from kindergarden in Australia ...I couldnt imagine sending a 5 year old away though .

Tara - posted on 04/23/2011

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Young children? No, if a pre-teen or teen wants to go to a boarding school then I would say yes, but I would never force my kids, wouldn't even suggest it, and I think young kids for the most part would suffer when it comes to their relationship with family, although this is not always the case, but in general kids do best at home for the early years up to grade 5 or so.
But I'm biased because I homeschool so sending them to school let alone boarding school would go against everything in my being.
:)

[deleted account]

Loureen, I do actually agree with you that school is an accompaniment to parents. However, given my family history, I may not be around for both my boys' high school graduations. Since the two main constants in a kid's life are home and school, if home becomes topsy turvy I feel it's best to secure the school side.



If I could have, I would have asked to go to a boarding school in my early teens. And because of that very thing, I am trying to cover all bases for any eventuality.



edit to add: In Brieanne's case, I think boarding school is totally appropriate.

Tracey - posted on 04/20/2011

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I'm having enough guilty feelings about sending my son to his first overnight respite next week, don't think I could ever send my kids away to school.

Charlie - posted on 04/20/2011

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School is only a side dish that comes with parental upbringing that is the main course of education ( bear with me I have had a couple of glasses of wine )

It is my job to raise them until they are old enough to go out into the world and it's funny Jamie and i were just talking about this because I was public and he went to boarding school and the stories he just told me about the little "initiations " they put people through quite frankley made me feel a little ill like the least worst walking through a piss trough with football socks on , I actually said " thats fucking sadistic " he said " well thats just how it has always been in boarding school " ......no no thanks my child wont be pent up in a hormone infested dormitory for kids to try and have a lash at him for the sake of "tradition" .

fuck that .

Stifler's - posted on 04/20/2011

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My grandma went to boarding school. She loved it but she never talks about her parents and it's like she never knew them. I've asked her just random things and she's like I didn't know my mum too well so I don't know. I don't think boarding school is necessary unless you live out whoop whoop with no school. I stayed at Capricornia college once for residential school and HATED IT and i was 19 at the time. Imagine shared bathrooms and dorms and stuff as a teenager :| If my kids wanted to go and I was filthy rich I'd totally let them.

[deleted account]

Brieanne, it sounds like you and your husband have done your research and this may be the right solution for you. If your daughter likes it as well, it might make the transition easier for her (and you). I completely agree with you that in a case like yours, it takes much more love and strength to let her go try this school and would be just selfish on your part to keep her home.

There's no harm in giving it a go. If it's not working out, you can always pull the pin and try to find another solution.

I have no problem with boarding schools. The ones I know of here (in Australia) only take kids from grade 6 and up. I actually looked into one of the schools, as a non-boarder, for my boys. The idea being that as they got older, if they chose, or if there became a need, they could then board there without too much upheaval to their lives since kids spend most of their time either at home or in school.

Lady Heather - posted on 04/19/2011

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Boarding schools really freak me out because the ones that kids from my hometown went to had drugs all over the place. The kids tended to have the money and they weren't overly supervised. I've seen a couple kids do really well though. It has to be the right kid and personally I wouldn't allow it before high school. A friend of mine went when she was 14 on scholarship and she was just the right kind of kid for it. The school was very sporty and academic which was perfect. And frankly, if I had her parents I wouldn't miss the "affection". Ha.

Brieanne - posted on 04/19/2011

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Ahhh... all of these comments are so heartbreaking to me. I was searching the web to find out what Moms think about boarding their children. My little girl has such a horrific time in school. She has a rare disorder that causes tumors in her vital organs, including her brain. She has learning disabilities similar to that of a person with brain injury. She has been through 3 schools in 2 years, one of which was supposed to specialize in kids with special needs. I also tried to homeschool her. I just don't have what it takes... it's so hard. Plus, I also have a 5 year old son who hasn't started school yet. Anyway, I found this amazing school in Lake Wales, FL, specifically for LD children. My husband and I toured it, and fell in love with it entirely. Then my daughter visited and also liked it very much.
Over the years, my relationship with my daughter has become more of an unhealthy codependent one, rather than a healthy and nurturing one. See, she is also plagued with severe behavioral issues that began at 18 months old, and now that she is pre-pubescent, well, you can imagine. I am tired of being mad at her. I love her so much, and I don't know what else to do. It's not that I don't have the patience for her, or that I would rather pay someone over 40k a year to take care of her than to do it myself... but the school system is failing her miserably. And I feel like I am failing her because I can't fix it. I don't know what else to do.

I guess, I believe, that in some circumstances, it actually takes more sacrifice to send your child away for their own good, than it does to hold them tight and never let them go. I knew the day would come that I would have to let my daughter go out into the world, I just didn't expect it to be so soon. She is only 11 years old. If I wanted to be selfish, and believe me, I really do, I would make her stay and struggle and fail in public school, just so I could have the joy of seeing her face every day. But I don't think with a clear conscience that I can do that to her. She deserves better than public schools can give her, and better than I can give her at home. I love her too much not to send her, but my heart is broken to send her away. Ugh. I hate this.

Brieanne - posted on 04/19/2011

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Ahhh... all of these comments are so heartbreaking to me. I was searching the web to find out what Moms think about boarding their children. My little girl has such a horrific time in school. She has a rare disorder that causes tumors in her vital organs, including her brain. She has learning disabilities similar to that of a person with brain injury. She has been through 3 schools in 2 years, one of which was supposed to specialize in kids with special needs. I also tried to homeschool her. I just don't have what it takes... it's so hard. Plus, I also have a 5 year old son who hasn't started school yet. Anyway, I found this amazing school in Lake Wales, FL, specifically for LD children. My husband and I toured it, and fell in love with it entirely. Then my daughter visited and also liked it very much.
Over the years, my relationship with my daughter has become more of an unhealthy codependent one, rather than a healthy and nurturing one. See, she is also plagued with severe behavioral issues that began at 18 months old, and now that she is pre-pubescent, well, you can imagine. I am tired of being mad at her. I love her so much, and I don't know what else to do. It's not that I don't have the patience for her, or that I would rather pay someone over 40k a year to take care of her than to do it myself... but the school system is failing her miserably. And I feel like I am failing her because I can't fix it. I don't know what else to do.

I guess, I believe, that in some circumstances, it actually takes more sacrifice to send your child away for their own good, than it does to hold them tight and never let them go. I knew the day would come that I would have to let my daughter go out into the world, I just didn't expect it to be so soon. She is only 11 years old. If I wanted to be selfish, and believe me, I really do, I would make her stay and struggle and fail in public school, just so I could have the joy of seeing her face every day. But I don't think with a clear conscience that I can do that to her. She deserves better than public schools can give her, and better than I can give her at home. I love her too much not to send her, but my heart is broken to send her away. Ugh. I hate this.

JL - posted on 02/16/2010

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I am not keen on the idea of sending a young child to boarding school. I just think it is wrong but a pre-teen and teenage kid I don't see the problem if they choose to go.



I wanted desperately to go to boarding school when I was a teen.. My grandparents offered to pay for me to go away to the boarding school of my choice, but my mom refused to let me go. I still to this day regret that she didn't allow me that experience.



If my kids as teens express a desire, I can afford it and the school is good then I will allow it. Two of my female cousins went to boarding school when they were in highschool and they loved it. It made a huge difference in the way they were able to transition into college academically and socially.

Lady - posted on 02/16/2010

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I could never send my children to boarding school no matter what age they were - I just could not be away from them for any length of time. I don't agree with them in principal at all, why have kids if you are just going to get some one else to raise them? And the same goes for nannies and full time childcare for very young. I understand that parents have to work but when I worked in private nurseries we had parents drop their children off at 8 in the morning then pick them up at 6 o'clock every day then ask the owner if we ever thought of opening up at the weekend so they could get their shopping done! What did they even have childen for -they never saw them?

[deleted account]

I'm against boarding school for younger children, but the teens I know who went loved it. I'm for it for older children providing they're not pressured into going, but I'm not sure i'd like it for my son.

[deleted account]

I pretty much agree with everything said here. Not good for young kids but specialized schools for high schoolers is okay if the child wants to go. And I too would send my kid to Hogwarts if she got her letter by owl in about 9 years.

Cathelijn - posted on 02/12/2010

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I don't know I kind of like the idea now, I didn't when my parents threatened me with it when I was 13...
My husband went to boarding school in Africa that was pretty hardcore for him at the age of 11, he did learn a lot and it has thaught him a lot about discipline and leadership but he said that he just cried for the first months.
I wouldn't send my daughter to boarding school at a young age but if I had the money I would think about it when she was a teenager. and especially if she was a troublemaker:-))
I saw a programme about this the girls were 8 years old and going to boardingschool, they were army kids and their parents decided that it was better to go to boardingschool then changing schools every so often they had stability but it was really sad to see the girls seperated from their parents and basically they only had eachother to comfort it waskind of sad.
Kids already growup so fast I really don't thinkitis needed for us speed things up..

ME - posted on 02/12/2010

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I might also make an exception for Hogwarts....but they would have to allow lots of family visits!!! I LOVE that castle...

Sarah - posted on 02/12/2010

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LOL Krista! Apparently interest in boarding schools has risen significantly due to the Harry Potter books! I used to read Enid Blyton's Mallory Towers books when i was young and they made me want to be at boarding school!!

I agree with most of you that i would never dream of sending a young child to boarding school. If i thought it would be something that my 11-12yr old would be interested in, and that they would enjoy it, then i would possibly consider it. They would have the final say tho i think.
I could never afford it tho, so i guess it's not a decision i'll have to make! :)

Krista - posted on 02/12/2010

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I would only consider it if the school offered classes and opportunities that our local school doesn't, and if our child wanted to go to that school. But not while they're little.

Unless it's Hogwarts. I'd make an exception for Hogwarts.

ME - posted on 02/12/2010

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I can't imagine being away from my child(ren) for that long a period of time!!!! I wouldn't be able to handle it, how could a six year old??? I think for high school/college prep age kids, I would let them make the decision (if finances weren't an issue)...

?? - posted on 02/12/2010

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I think boarding school is for people who don't have time or patience to nurture their children but can afford let 'an organization' "teach" their child for them. Yes I think 6 is too young. Some kids might take to it better than others, but at 6, it's way too early to tell. I would NEVER ever ever ever tell my child to stick it out if he absolutely hated something -- a child won't learn if they're being 'forced' into a situation they hate. I don't think anything makes up for parental affection - ever.

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