Boarding school parents support forum?

(86 Posts)
Merlinswife Thu 29-Nov-12 12:14:25

I have a friend whose two children are now boarders and she's feeling a bit cut off. I wondered if there was a forum she could join- like MN- but for parents of children who do termly boarding?

joanbyers Thu 29-Nov-12 12:22:47

tbh I feel like Mumsnet is missing a trick on the private schools front, they could add about 50 private school boards and have them do well.

milkshake3 Thu 29-Nov-12 12:28:27

Cut off from what Merlin? How old are her kids?

grovel Thu 29-Nov-12 12:49:48

Nice idea, joanbyers, but I suspect the schools would hate it!

Merlinswife Thu 29-Nov-12 12:56:13

Cut off from her kids! There are complex family reasons why boarding is the best way forward for them, but she's missing them and just wondered if there are other parents in the same boat.

difficultpickle Thu 29-Nov-12 19:36:44

There are quite a few posters with dcs who board. Ds does weekly boarding but so far only three consecutive nights each week.

happygardening Fri 30-Nov-12 07:21:38

My DS has boarded since yr 3 we will soon going into our 9 th year of full boarding she's wellcome to PM me! But we've been very badly flooded and have been forced to move so am using others internet connection so am erratic replying.

Tell your friend that it does take a period of adjustment to get used to it and develop other ways of still feeling involved in what your children are up to at school. Happy for her to PM me if she would like someone to go over some of the issues with.

Rosetti Fri 30-Nov-12 17:06:12

My daughter started this September in year 7 and at first I was so worried about how she would get on - she moved to mixed from an all girls school for a start! I do miss her but nowhere near as much as I thought I would as I know she is really happy - the days are flying by and I try to watch as many sports fixtures as I can. Just seeing how she is settled and doing so well has dispelled any doubts I had about boarding - I have been totally converted in one term!

IndridCold Fri 30-Nov-12 17:57:27

My DS in his second year of boarding. He started at his prep school, so it was somewhere he knew well, and he is just about to finish his first term at 'big' school.

It was more difficult for him to contact us at his last school, as he had to wait for the public phone to be free, and the school email never worked properly. But now he has a mobile and laptop he can keep in touch much more easily, and I send him funny youtube clips and we text most days.

It's hard to be too involved if you live a long way from the school (as we do) but you do get a big catch up in the holidays, and we try to go to all the school and house social events to keep in touch with other parents.

I agree with Rosetti, if you know they are busy and happy you don't miss them so much. I'm sure if your friend started up a thread on MN about things that are worrying her she would find some sympathetic replies smile.

happygardening so sorry to hear about your flood. Never happened to me (thank goodness) but some friends were flooded and it was truly awful. Hope you manage to get reasonably straight in time for Christmas.

Mutteroo Mon 03-Dec-12 08:41:21

I'm a boarding parent survivor! Don't know of any forums but I felt as your friend did. I honestly thought when I told DS the school was too far to be a day pupil it would put him off. How wrong was I? DS weekly boarded (Sunday eve to Saturday lunchtime) and that helped us both, however ultimately neither of us enjoyed boarding and after 3 years DS has now moved to a local 6th form college. Boarding works for some but not all, however, my relationship with DS is as strong as it ever was and don't let your friend feel that aspect will change.

difficultpickle Mon 03-Dec-12 08:47:56

I was talking to other boarding parents at the weekend and our common view is how hard it is to be involved in the school compared to when our dcs were at day school. That makes it hard to get to know other parents. Ds is at a school that does day and boarding and nearly at the end of his first term I've only met about three parents from his school year. Compared to his previous day school where I reckon I knew most of the mums by the end of the first term.

Not sure what the answer is so I'm focusing on the fact that ds is very happy at school and very happy boarding. I feel a bit resigned that my relationship with other school parents will never be like it was at his previous school.

PeriPathetic Mon 03-Dec-12 08:49:56

Marking my place.

DD and I are off to visit a school tomorrow with a view to her starting there after Easter. IF she passes the assessment.

I've cried so many tears about it, but she really wants to go and her current school is crushing her in so many ways (we're overseas, no other options here). I'm sure I'll be back for help in coping if/when she goes.

wheresthegin Mon 03-Dec-12 09:01:00

If you ds full boards, from 13+, presumably there must be quite a change sometimes as to his maturity when you see him? How does this make you feel?

(have a full boarding school on options list for senior school.)

goinggetstough Mon 03-Dec-12 18:16:29

Bisjo I know what you mean about meeting other parents and it was especially difficult as I was an overseas parent too. In order to meet other parents from our DS's house we arranged to meet for coffee in the local town before we used to collect at Exeats or half term or end of term. Initially the housemaster sent out the invitation on our behalf. It was very useful to be able to speak to other parents in the same house to get their views on a variety of topics that affected our sons.

wheresthegin my DCs boarded from prep until they left school. We spoke or communicated to them almost every day if they wanted too, so it was never a shock when I saw him. You asked how I felt, well I just felt proud of the way my DS had grown up and matured as I would have done if he had been at day school.

peripathetic good luck with your visit. Do check how many full boarders there are at the school if your DD is likely to be in most weekends as you are overseas. Schools as I mentioned on another boarding thread today can be very clever with their statistics for full boarders and their actual definition of full boarding. So it can be a good idea to ask how many DCs were in on a couple of specific weekends. So you can get an idea of how many friends would be in with her and therefore you wouldn't have to rely on friends taking her out every weekend.

derekthehamster Mon 03-Dec-12 18:20:12

I feel very lucky that our school has a forum, just like mumsnet grin except no where near as busy. I've met a few parents this way and it's very supportive.

PeriPathetic Mon 03-Dec-12 18:53:56

Thank you, going - it is full boarding, even the local kids tend to stay at weekends too. And she knows at least 4 other expat kids there already.

She's really excited; I'm bricking it blush I just hope she copes with the flight OK so isn't fuzzy from ear pain as per usual.

PeriPathetic Thu 06-Dec-12 18:20:17

Well, we made it! It was a massively hectic day.

DD didn't have to do a test (phew!) and we were offered a place straight away - she starts in the Summer term next year.

Fabulous school with a very 'can-do' attitude ie for certain subjects she's never covered before, they will bring her up to speed, and for a language she's been learning for 6 years, they will bring in a tutor to continue this grin She met her friends there, so that was nice for her. And she is so excited about it.

Now I'm poring over the lists of all stuff we have to get shock

difficultpickle Thu 06-Dec-12 19:10:21

As someone who decided to sew all her ds's name labels I would highly recommend using a sewing service if the school have one. The worst thing about boarding is every single item of clothing, both school and casual has to have a sewn label.

socksnottights Thu 06-Dec-12 22:34:39

Curious to find out which school you visited as sounds good.
Any clues if you don't want to mention actual name.

PeriPathetic Thu 06-Dec-12 22:40:15

Oh sorry! I thought I'd said (should probably name change, but hey I don't know how to ) It's Windlesham.

I've just realised about the label sewing, doh! I'd already ordered a squillion labels 'cos there was a discount. And I've delegated the job to mum when she arrives for Xmas, BUT I don't have the damn clothes yet. Idiot!

derekthehamster Sat 08-Dec-12 08:25:53

IMO socks are the worst sad We also have to sew sock ties on so the don't get lost in the laundry system

peppapigpants Sat 08-Dec-12 09:52:42

Zip up laundry bags are the way to go, derek smile

happygardening Sat 08-Dec-12 10:56:28

I am boarding parent survivor
I've thought long and hard about this comment. Why do I not feel a boarding parent survivor? Am I a callous bitch who couldn't care less about my DS? If you knew me you wouldn't say that.
I personally believe and not only do I have a DS in a boarding school I work with boarding children that to really thrive in a boarding school and for us as parents not be "survivors" then you need to have consider the following.
As a parents you are always going to struggle if you are the sort of person who has to know if your DC has eaten his five portions of fruit and veg a day, flossed his teeth three times a day, a spent five hours learning latin vocab for Mondays test. Boarding is definitely not for those who feel a need to be involved with their children's education/life at every turn. If you are like this them you are going to drove yourself/DC and HM up the wall. There are plenty of excellent day schools out there don't inflict boarding on yourself.
Secondly your DC has to have a certain type of personality. Those who like lots of privacy and personal space are definitely going to struggle. Those who don't make friends easily may find boarding difficult as will the thin skinned. Lets be realistic you need to be quite robust. Those who cant think of anything worse than being made to stand on a rugby pitch five afternoons a week come hell of high water will also struggle unless they have other options; ask. You either need to be team player or such a lone wolf that you couldn't give a stuff about other people and what they think about you. Boarding is obviously organised but I think you do need to be self motivated as well. Remember its often 3-4 staff and maybe some older children supervising 60 others no one is going o stand over every child and make sure their prep is done and not only done but done to the required standard. Many children do prep in their room with a couple of other mates and no direct supervision; an excellent opportunity to piss around!
Thirdly and ultimately most importantly we as parents need to be absolutely 101% convinced that the benefits of boarding out weigh the disadvantages. We sent our DC's at 7 and 8 yrs old to a full boarding school becasue I felt the sort of education being offered not only in the state sector but the independent day sector was not the sort of "education" I was looking for this does not mean ots not what all want not just what I wanted. I personally don't believe that education is about the "three Rs" I was looking for an all round "education" that can only be offered in a boarding environment. We decided not to send DS2 to two top performing grammars at yr 7 and 9. also a localish selective day school and a fantastic highly selective London day school with a more flexible approach to boarding at yr 9 but carry on with school fees and full boarding for the same reason and have not regretted our choice. But I know from personal experience (at our boarding prep) that the moment the balance tips and the disadvantages out weigh the advantages that the education we want is not being provided then as parents we become unhappy and thus boarding ceases to be what we want and I suppose ultimately you become "survivors."
Finally and I know I've said this over and over again but again am speaking from personal experience it doesn't matter what boarding you want; flexi, weekly or full but if it is going to work for your DC then at least 80% of the school need to be on the same boat.

wheresthegin Sat 08-Dec-12 16:47:46

HG - interesting post. Thanks.

Can I ask you the same question I asked up thread about missing the development of you dc? Did you/Do you feel as though you missed them grow up?

Boarding school we are considering is only 5 miles away from where we live, but whole school is full boarding. DS keen to go.

Am dithering somewhat.

difficultpickle Sat 08-Dec-12 17:13:21

How would you miss your ds growing up? confused That would imply you don't get to speak to him or see him when he is boarding. Ds will go to a full boarding senior school but I would run a mile from any school that wouldn't allow contact.

happygardening Sat 08-Dec-12 17:27:26

In short no.
I do miss him but not the growing up thing although he seems more grown up every time I see him. I saw him this week having not seen him for two weeks and he looked taller and his voice was deeper.
What I got most pleasure from was watching him with his two team mates (both older than him) the very very obvious camaraderie that was there between the three of them and the pleasure it gave him as an individual to be with other like minded individuals where he felt comfortable because he was free to be himself. His schools does not try to mould boys personalities in a specific way. This is one of the first time in his life that I've ever really seen this happen for him. It makes all the missing him, struggling to pay fees worth it.

wheresthegin Sat 08-Dec-12 17:45:12

bisjo - I don't know, which is why I need to know about all aspects of having a dc full board.

It has been brought to our attention recently that ds would be a good candidate for an award to enable him to attend this amazing school. We never in our wildest dreams had considered such a school before now.

After never thinking about boarding, I am now all in a tis about what full boarding exactly entails. We have a few appointments with various departments in January, but it's useful to collect real-life stories and experiences.

Please feel free to enlighten me with your full boarding experiences.

wheresthegin Sat 08-Dec-12 17:47:24

HG - thank you. That must be so lovely to be able to watch your ds like that.

A good story/experience.

grovel Sat 08-Dec-12 18:46:41

wheresthegin, my DS was at a full boarding school 6 miles from us. He loved it.

School terms are short. There are exeat week-ends and half-terms. I think our DS spent the best part of 40% of his nights under our roof. We also saw him often at week-ends (matches, concerts, taking him out to lunch). In no way did I feel that I was missing his adolescence or abdicating parental responsibilities.

What was nice is that we got plenty of quality time (hate the expression). He did not take us/home for granted which he might well have done if he had been here all the time. I think we just outsourced the nagging bit of parenting (laundry, homework etc).

He will have a phone and access to email/Skype.

wheresthegin Sat 08-Dec-12 18:58:08

Grovel -I like this. Sounds perfect!
Another good story.

grovel Sat 08-Dec-12 22:37:43

wheresthegin, I was addressing the point about missing your child's development.

Nothing is really perfect - we are talking about teenagers! Follow your heart and brain but don't expect everything to be easy whatever your choice. I'm sure you know this.

wheresthegin Sat 08-Dec-12 23:29:48

yes, nothing is ever "easy".
DS likes the idea, and has really picked his game up in order to impress in January. Of course, it may all never happen anyway and we'll stick with the day school option that was, up until now, the obvious option.

I think I need to stop thinking about it now and see what news the new year brings. As I said, it may not be an option anyway.

Thank you.

grovel Sat 08-Dec-12 23:54:04

Well, let me wish and your family you a happy Christmas.

It's very trite - but you can only do your best as a parent and as a child.

happygardening Sun 09-Dec-12 08:22:49

wheresthegin the amount of parental involvement varies from full boarding school to full boarding school. I believe grovel's DS went to Eton where from talking to friends with DS's there there is considerably more flexibility for parents re coming home for the odd Saturday night and other things. At my DS's school there is considerably less parental involvement e,g. no coming home on Saturday night. I know Radley a little bit and suspect that it has a similar ethos to my DS's school. You need to ask yourself if you would he happy with this and also find out exactly what you as parents can and can't do.

happygardening Sun 09-Dec-12 08:29:08

Meant to add that most independent schools on the surface are pretty similar same exams similar faculties class sizes etc etc all the things you see on open days or read on websites. But it is in the micro detail that variation occur and it is when this micro details is at odds with either what you or your DCs want/expect/like that conflict occurs and ultimately unhappiness arises.

derekthehamster Sun 09-Dec-12 08:30:40

Ha Ha, love the idea that we're outsourcing the nagging and laundry!!

My son has just finished his 4th term at full boarding, and whilst i was there picking him up, it struck me again, that they grow up so quickly. Some of the boys, were really like men in the older years, whilst the youngest still looked like young children.

Every now and again I get the romantic notion that I'm missing out, but I'm not. He texts and phones (when he hasn't mislaid his phone), and he really appreciates coming home (I think his bed is more comfy here).

The school is definitely becoming more open, we already take him out every other Sunday, and if you want you can take them out after Saturday school and bring them back Sun night/Mon morning.

happygardening Sun 09-Dec-12 08:52:39

The school is definitely becoming more open, we already take him out every other Sunday, and if you want you can take them out after Saturday school and bring them back Sun night/Mon morning.
This is increasingly becoming more common in "full" boarding schools but this is obviously not full boarding and and very difficult for those parents like us who are not able to do this due to distance from the school and it also can be difficult for those who cant go home because often only a few children are left in school although some schools organise activities/outings (my DS's doesn't really) I should be thankful that at my DS's school they are only allowed home on Sunday.

derekthehamster Sun 09-Dec-12 11:26:23

I don't know of any children who do leave the school at the weekends, but the option is there if you want to take them to a family wedding etc. It would get quite expensive to take them home every weekend, petrolwise shock

peppapigpants Sun 09-Dec-12 14:49:56

My DD is 15 and has boarded since her 11th birthday when she started Y7. She's now in Y11 and leaves after her GCSEs are completed this summer. For the last few years she has come home every weekend with very few exceptions. It takes about an hour to drive each way. Now she can walk to town with her friends, get the train, change at Clapham Junction and be home in less time than it takes me to drive there and back, so she does that instead. Many children stay at school at weekends, it's about 40% I guess.

happygardening Sun 09-Dec-12 17:20:09

I reckon about 30% of my DS's year and house stay in on Sunday. Our drive is nearly 1 1/2 hours one way and our train journey nearly three and then a half hour car drive although we only live in the next county! We have fewer exeats than many so he comes home for Sunday twice a term. The boys are not allowed out on Saturday evening even for a very special occassion and we were told that on the first day.

derekthehamster Sun 09-Dec-12 20:23:25

Just asked ds how many go out for lunch on a Sunday, and he thinks about 1 or 2. So our of 45 boys, 43 are in all weekend.

We are lucky that we only live a 40min drive away, so it's easy for us to pop up and take him out, probably once or twice per half term. Most boys seem to come from London, which is about 1 1/2 hours drive away.

Honestyisbest Sun 09-Dec-12 21:22:36

My DD has just finished her first term boarding. I can't to collect her on Wednesday. We only live about 20 mins away which has been such a bonus as we can go and watch matches, concerts etc and she can then have a bonus exeat so we can share a meal together and then drop her back. it has been a massive change for us. But from the beginning we have chatted, emailed and written to each other and this has been so positive. it's wonderful seeing my DD developing such skills that will help her, flexibility, tolerance, friendship, meeting girls from all round the world. She was very involved in the decision to board and flexi boarded a little at her prep school so she knew what was involved. My DS is at a fantastic day school and equally that works for him. He has been looking at boarding sixth form, but personality wise I think day school will always suit him better. I agree with Happygardening re looking at your child's personality. One major point for me is that when my DD is home I can just be Mummy, no homework, or extracurric activities, just time together. And I love the long holidays!

wheresthegin Sun 09-Dec-12 21:30:00

Some good experiences here. thank you.
Does anyone want to have a go at detailing the type of personality to enjoy / hate boarding?

Honestyisbest Sun 09-Dec-12 22:07:32

Well here goes:
My DD is independent, quietly confident, friendly, hard working, self motivated, has lots of stamina, not too sensitive and super organised. She is flexible and doesn't worry about things work or otherwise. Oh and great at packing and unpacking! She has settled really well and is thriving from what we can see, report is due online in a week or so! My son is different and would have struggled with organising himself, getting his prep independently and with the energy needed for a long day of academic and extracurric activities. But he has other attributes! Hope that helps.
PS I do think the top boarding schools are pretty good at selecting Dcs who will thrive in a boarding environment. Your child has to be someone who will thrive living in a community.

happygardening Mon 10-Dec-12 08:04:22

Definitely agree about lots of stamina/energy. Boarding is very very full on, not for those who favour a lazy quiet life. Most boarding school children especially those in their first term will be absolutely exhausted by now. As parents we need to take off the rose tinted spectacles and critically appraise our children's strengths and weaknesses especially if considering full boarding. I am also becoming increasingly unconvinced that boarding is always the solution for children with significant problems at home especially marital break down although it does offer stability and an opportunity to escape from conflict I think it leaves these children feeling outside of a process that they are clearly worried about. School refusers, and those with significant mental health problems OCD etc may also struggle and your school needs to be chosen with extra care and only after a very honest conversation with them.
Also the very fussy eater is probably going to struggle.

wheresthegin Mon 10-Dec-12 10:27:18

DS is......has good stamina. Likes structure and rules, loves sport, will join as many clubs/activities as he can. Gets on and does homework independently, (proud mum!).
However, he is quite shy and tends to hover at the back of whatever he is doing. That's my only concern really. I wonder if he can stand up for himself if any argey-bargey / bullying happens.

grovel Mon 10-Dec-12 11:01:00

wheresthegin, nothing in your description would worry me.....much better to start slightly diffident and grow in confidence than to assume that you are an alpha male and have a rude awakening in Week 2.

I read recently that Radley had 60 new boys who had been their prep school first XVs at rugby. Clearly many of them had to get used to playing in the thirds and fourths for their year group.

happygardening Mon 10-Dec-12 13:05:51

he is quite shy and tends to hover at the back of whatever he is doing
As long as he's comfortable with this I think he will be fine IME problems arises when boys try too hard and make themselves be liked and try not be shy then others just think they're weird and back off. There are bound to be other like minded boys although Radley is very boyish if you know what I mean. There is bullying in every school and some boys are very adept at picking out a gentler more reserved character and being unkind. But most boarding schools if aware of this will stamp down on it very hard. With regard to "argey-bargey" Im not quite sure what you mean but you do need to remember that Radley is a virtually all male environment and that many of the boys will be very competitive and there will be the inevitable banter/teasing etc this is why I do think to board especially full board your DC needs to be "robust" or shall we say reasonably thick skinned. Boarding especially at Radley is not suitable for the wet.

derekthehamster Mon 10-Dec-12 14:20:23

I'll just throw into the mix, my ds is pretty disorganised, certainly at home! he seems to be doing fine though.

He is quite independent, and not very sensitive (things run off his back, he doesn't take offense).

He is also shy until he gets to know people.

PeriPathetic Mon 10-Dec-12 14:54:55

Hmm, I'm getting even more worried now confused
Honestyisbest "My DD is independent, quietly confident, friendly, hard working, self motivated, has lots of stamina, not too sensitive and super organised."

My DD is independent, but needy at times. She is confident but not in class (apparently), and not too sensitive. But none of the other qualities at all. In fact she is possibly the most disorganised girl I've ever known, which has caused massive problems at her current school. However, I do have great confidence in her abilities to settle in. She's had enough experience being the new girl.

I do hope she'll be ok.

Honestyisbest Mon 10-Dec-12 15:31:49

I suspect there are lots of strategies for tackling disorganisation! especially if it relates to late prep! But I think the new girls are really helped with this. I notice there are lots of rewards for being tidy, helpful, tidiest dorm etc. So that probably encourages organisation if your child responds to positive reinforcement!
I did notice that the older girls room were nearly all very tidy and the housemistress said that the girls learn to respect the space that they are sharing and so if they are really messy the other girls will have a moan. Once the girls are settled late prep results in sanctions. I guess you soon learn then.
There is a huge amount of kit/uniform to look after, but they absolutely insist on name labelling for everything so I guess lost property is probably less of an issue than ay my (oh so disorganised) DSs day school.
All those other qualities you mentioned will stand her in good stead.

PeriPathetic Mon 10-Dec-12 16:18:32

Thank you for the reassurances smile I think it's something her peers will be able to persuade her to do while us parents can't get through to her.

yotty Mon 10-Dec-12 16:50:07

Peri, I wouldn't worry about being disorganised. My DS is mildly dyspraxic and to me seems completely useless at being organised at home. He has lost various items at school but somehow manages to muddle his way through. I asked his friends once what they thought of him and to my surprise they said he was 'really sensible and organised'! Sometimes kids seem to walk through the school gates and 'step up to the plate' and get it together when they have to. He's not at boarding school yet, but I am growing in confidence that he will survive, as I am sure your DD will too.

happygardening Mon 10-Dec-12 18:10:16

The good thing about boarding school is that generally the daily routine is very structured and also samish and this definitely helps the disorganised. DS1 full boarded from 8yr old to 13yrs old is hopelessly disorganised but everyday at boarding school is the same story.
At DS2 senior school boys are expected to be very self motivated and exceedingly organised. There is lots of prep and expectations are exceedingly high the disorganised quickly fall behind hand in prep late and fail to keep on top of revising for weekly tests etc. They are helped/encouraged to develop these skills but I suspect an innate organisational ability and self motivation/drive is also probably an essential requirement.
But I suspect the super selective whether they be day or boarding require these skills if a child is to thrive.

Honestyisbest Mon 10-Dec-12 19:36:32

I think happygardening is right that you have to consider the particular boarding school. You would quickly start drowning in prep at DSs school if you don't keep on top of things. As I say though lots of help available in the first year. Also lots of prep sessions during the week, but an expectation that you will plan and hand in work in the order you need to to meet deadlines. My Ds is 11 yo so could be tricky for some. Girls also communicate with the teachers by email so I guess as long as you communicate with your teachers and ask for help they will be sympathetic if you start to struggle. All good lessons to learn anyway.

grovel Mon 10-Dec-12 20:06:01

OK, for once I'm going to disagree with HG (who generally makes tons of sense).

My DH is disorganised. So is my son (now 21). My DH was at Radley, my DS was at Eton. DH was beaten at school for being shambolic. DS was rebuked and gated.

Most of my real friends are generally untidy and don't care. They run happy, informal homes and are annoyingly successful.

Somehow there is a section of society who make it without having apparently tidy minds. It's a mystery to me.

I do see that both my DH and DHS do brilliant work at the last minute. Late "thank-you" letters will be cherished by recipients because they are funny and to the point. I think DH and DS subconciously work on stuff until they are ready/deadline time and think "better late than never". It drives me nuts but it's not the end of the world.

happygardening Mon 10-Dec-12 20:34:19

I personally am "generally untidy and don't care" and a fully paid up life long member of the brigade as in DS1 and DH but DS2 at Winchester is highly organised driven and OBSESSIVELY TIDY there was this moment just after he was born where he went one one and we went the other and we've always wondered......... He is ultimately perfect for boarding but many many are not like him and thrive although may spend th first year working out what is actually required of them.

PeriPathetic Tue 11-Dec-12 07:24:01

Haha! DD is a product of two extremes: me = incredibly untidy, laid back, disorganised by nature but able to pull it together in a scarily effective fashion in times of need. Usually just before everything goes wrong / deadline is due.

DH = obsessively neat & tidy, a bit uptight, unable to let anything go.
Basically, I think he's made DD the way she is because he won't let her get on with it and learn her own methods. He micro-manages everything she does. Everything. Drives me mad, and I can't stand the arguments between them any more

Oversharing here... anywayyyy...

DH told MIL about DD boarding yesterday - she did not take it well; which is odd because she sent him to board confused Anyway, none of her business.

This school will be SO good for DD in every way. I'm not hoping for the moon on a stick, I will be happy if they just manage to relight her fire which has nearly been totally stomped out by schools here.

Amber2 Sat 15-Dec-12 00:14:39


This is what worries me. DS is strong academically but disorganized and needs prompting so really wondering if boarding would suit ..though perhaps he will improve by 13 ..if I felt he could better organize himself then E or W would be top of my list though I would still have a hard time with full boarding vs weekly.

Amber2 Sat 15-Dec-12 00:24:20

Grovel how did your DS fare generally at Eton since he sounds a bit like mine? How often were you able to see him outside of exeats and holidays?

Amber2 Sat 15-Dec-12 00:30:51


Actually looking back to your previous post I think the question of how often you see your DS is wondering if easier to see a DS or have him home certain weekends is easier at E than at W where HG's DS is.

happygardening Sat 15-Dec-12 09:03:33

Amber" a mother who very recently looked at Winchester was told that
"the boys who come here need to be well organised and self sufficient from the off"
when we looked at Eton I felt that boys had to be exceedingly organised from day 1 as I believe unlike most schools there is no fixed period for prep and they do it in their own rooms which are of course single so plenty of opportunity for looking out of the window/daydreaming etc etc. From reading the comments made on MN by colleger whose son has just started at Eton she feels its quite a harsh grown up environment where the boys are treated like 6th formers and mistakes are not necessarily tolerated and a huge jump from a nice kind prep school. I personally believe this is inevitable to get the sort of exam results both schools are now wanting their pupils to achieve combined with the expectation that their pupils will participate in a wide variety of extra curricular activities and of course the many other activities that they are expected to attend as part of a normal week at school can only really be done if you are super organised and a self starter. It might be worth you looking at boarding schools with separate houses for first years e.g. Bradfield or Bryanston certainly from talking to a friends with a DS at Bryanston he has been given a lot of help and supervision with organising himself. Both I believe are primarily weekly boarding and from what understand Bryanston provides excellent transport into London especially south west London.
Finally I do believe boys at Eton are allowed home more often from talking to a friends her DS is allowed home on Saturday night.

grovel Sat 15-Dec-12 12:59:14

Amber, my DS was initially allowed only to sleep at home over exeats/half-terms. After GCSEs he got two more Saturday nights per term. We live close to the school and took him out for Sunday lunch more often than not. We quite often watched him play matches on Saturdays.

He was very happy at Eton and very busy (low-level sport, lots of music, some drama). I happen to think that busy teenagers are happy teenagers (less time for any adolescent angst). He acquired just enough self-discipline to get along but I'm sure a lot of his work was very last-minute. Without being any kind of scholar he managed to get all As and A*s at GCSE, A/S and A level so clearly he and the school got there somehow.

His house had a "quiet hour" every weekday evening. It often coincided with societies etc but the rule was that boys in the house during that hour had to be in their rooms (admittedly they could be day-dreaming).

difficultpickle Sat 15-Dec-12 14:48:09

Isn't there a possibility that they will become more organised once at boarding school as they fit in to the routine? Ds has boarded for a term (anything between 3 and 5 nights a week) and I've noticed the change in his organisation. He just seems to come home and get on with things whereas pre-boarding he needed a lot of prompting and reminding.

grovel Sat 15-Dec-12 15:30:16

Yes, bisjo, my DS definitely became more organised - but only to survival level. Probably more than he would have done at home though.

Amber2 Sat 15-Dec-12 17:39:07

Thanks all I will look to keep the boarding and day options in mind as I see how DS develops but nothing you have said surprises me...the single room at Eton from Day 1 is something that concerns me.....though part of me also thinks boarding may be making of DS if he could get into the routine and may make better organized as he will realize consequences pretty soon if he is not. Another part of me wants to keep my hand in and it is a bit hard to let go!

peteneras Sat 15-Dec-12 23:57:54

Well, I’m afraid I’ll have to differ from you ladies whose DC are wonderfully organised. DS is about the most disorganised chap as far as housekeeping is concerned, quite unlike his highly organised parents. His boarding house at Eton was like his second home, always wanting to go back early and the very last to leave during exeats and term holidays. It’s a case of first in, last out. I could be waiting for more than an hour for him to come down after everyone had left. No, he didn’t want any of us to be in his room because he didn’t want us to see the mess. But somehow, he did seem to get things done - at the last second, though I understand the maid(s) had had a big hand in this.

peteneras Sun 16-Dec-12 00:07:12

". . . their own rooms which are of course single so plenty of opportunity for looking out of the window/daydreaming etc" [ HG ]

And this is the very window from where DS did all his day dreaming! Here he is taking a last view before he left for good. The mess has all been cleared and it’s goodbye Eton!

This is what he would be viewing from his window in summer - the Masters’ quarters. Look the other way and this comes to view. In winter, the Masters’ accommodation would look something like this, a fantastic view to while your day dreams away. smile

dapplegrey Sun 16-Dec-12 08:22:00

Lovely photos, peteneras. I wish I'd thought of doing that.

Here is my tip for boarding school parents:
If you live more than 15 minutes away, when you collect your dc for exeats or end of term, bring a small picnic. The children are usually tired and hungry and therefore bad tempered and it's amazing what a couple of cold sausages, a choc biscuit and a piece of fruit can do to lift the mood and prevent the hols from starting off with an argument!

happygardening Sun 16-Dec-12 08:58:27

Dapple you're right always hungry and tired (luckily for us not arguementative) we used to make it to the M and S on the A34/M4 before my DS would say "Im starving can we stop and get something to eat?" recently we're only making it to the petrol station a couple of hundred yards away.
I'm not saying the disorganised shouldn't go to boarding school but from talking to the staff/children who I work withow and who board being disorganised can mean that it takes longer to settle and may struugle initially particularly if the academic expectations are very high from the moment they walk in the door. I've also found some who've been to boarding prep have been very molicodled and although not actually home sick find the freedom at senior boarding school all rather new and exciting!!

wheresthegin Sun 16-Dec-12 10:45:09

They are fed sufficiently at school though aren't they??

difficultpickle Sun 16-Dec-12 10:50:46

Don't know about senior schools but ds eats very well indeed at his boarding prep. Three cooked meals a day, homemade cakes after school before prep and custard creams and jammie dodgers for morning break. In fact I struggle to keep up with his demands for similar food at home grin

happygardening Sun 16-Dec-12 11:52:48

We usually pick up just before lunch time so the next round of eating is due. Also they're teenage boys are they're ever "sufficiently" fed? hmm

dapplegrey Sun 16-Dec-12 17:08:06

Happygardening - exactly that, they are picked up at lunchtime, and as you say most teenage boys are usually starving!
According to my ds the food wasn't great but they were certainly sufficiently fed.

Although I have no medical evidence for this theory Ive always thought that the vileness of the food at my boarding school many many moons ago is why I've never put on weight. Frankly the food there would have provoked a riot in a Victorian workhouse, and I only ever ate the barest minimum. I've never had a large appetite since.

difficultpickle Sun 16-Dec-12 19:53:51

I think it is sad to read that food at some boarding schools may not be up to much. I find it reassuring that ds loves the food he has at school. It is all part of the experience and if I had to have food everyday that was not very nice then I would struggle (and do struggle on business trips to some more remote places where food is very poor quality).

GurtrudesBosom Sun 06-Jan-13 18:55:30

Hello I am posting here in the hope of some support from other boarding parents who wont just judge and use my current issues as an excuse to tell me I am an evil cow and that if I loved my child I would with draw her without delay - despite the fact I am considering doing just that.

It may be long but I want to paint a full picture not drip feed.

DD is 14 and has full boarded since the age of 8. A choice we made due to DHs career in the Armed Services and 4 schools before the age of 8. We researched well both state and private BS and found a little gem of co ed BS which is run as a traditional boarding prep with pretty much most children full boarding. No weekly boarding option. She went and was a model example of a happy child grabbing every opportunity with both hands and really thriving. She was happy and settled and we never looked back. She was popular with pupils and staff. Both DH and I are day state educated with no experience of the private or BS systems so it was all new to us and we took alot of flack from family for our choice. We also rely heavily on the Armed Services allowance and funding to pay for the fees as I am a low earner (supermarket) and DH is not a commissioned Officer.

All was well until DD had to leave her prep school last summer and start at her new senior school. We chose one with several suitable criteria within easyish commuting distance to relatives so we know someone we trust can get their within an hour or so in an emergency no matter where we end up posted, somewhere that offered the wider subject choice in which DD wishes to study for GCSE (and beyond - she knows what she wants to do) and one we could afford - this final fact really limited our choice and it has to be said that if a large enough bursary could have been secured elsewhere (we tried and the amount we required was turned down because we already get a generous allowance the school said) this school would not have been our first choice. That said we did really like it and as we visited more and more before she started we felt happy in our choice and so did DD.

I think we may have picked the wrong school. Its a big school (which is what we wanted because as much as we loved her prep, I felt she needed to learn to be in a bigger comminity at high school). % wise the boarding element is very small only 15% of the school but well over 100 boarders, and most of them full boarders and a fair number of overseas as well. Its all girls as well. We were told they had a big intake at age 13 and always knew the main intake was at age 11 but now our experience makes us feel the intake at 13 does not seem to be integrated very well and was alot smaller this year than we thought it would be.

Last term was nothing short of a disaster. DD was put into a twin room with a girl we have since found out is the year group "problem/difficult" (for want of a better word} child. In our brief experience of this child its easy to say she has ALOT of issues. Anyway she gained the trust of my DD and I dont want to go into details and out myself to any RL people - but she humiliated and double crossed my daughter rather publicly. It caused a massive hoo haar at school and the other girl was reprimanded and later suspended as it came to light this was not a first offence. A mother of another boarder I know briefly from when we were posted at another base together when our DDs were small also informed me this girl has a very dodgy history and lots of parents are miffed and confused as to how she remains at the school and not expelled - I dont know full details of past behaviour to comment further.

This knocked DDs confidence and we requested she moved in with another child (glad we did as the other girl has since been suspended again for other unfair behaviour to others). This meant the whole year group rooming had to be rejigged and it caused a lot of resentment and problems amongst the girls and although it was attempted that this was done discreetly the other girls blame DD for grassing up the girl she was originally sharing with (it was someone else - an adult that discovered the issue and reported it not DD - altho DD was relieved to get it out in the open and dealt with cos she was scared and out of her depth- didnt want to tell on this girl but knew it was wrong etc etc.).

Lots of other little incidents but mud sticks and DD has no friends. The other new girls have had a few issues but seem alot happier and to have integrated OK.

By half term I had an inkling something wasnt quite right but could not put my finger on what. She was changing. Part of me thought she was maybe becoming more teenagerish with her new friends (didnt know at this point she didnt have any). However, I did request a meeting with the Head of Boarding just after HT and express my concerns.

DD maintained a "happy front" and kept telling us all she was fine, all was happy etc etc.

Then in November I had a call from school that shattered me. DD and other boarders had been found cutting themselves. This is absolutely UNBELIEVABLE for my DD. Obviously I have not told many - its not something you shout about but the few I have confided in just cannot belive it of DD as she "does not seem the type". Even the school staff were shocked as she seemed so happy all the time. The school nurse even called me and told me out of the group of girls discovered doing this she was baffled at my DD the most. DD says she did it to try and fit in FFS. There is only evidence of 1 cut and she said it didnt make her feel better like theothers said it would. She says it wont happen again. She refused counselling but scool have stepped up care and supervision since.

I picked her up the next day and brought her home. We spent 3 days chatting and she finally opened up - probably not 100% but she started to admit life at school was frankly shit. She loves her work but friendships are lacking and shit. DD was adament she didnt want to leave the school and wanted to remain. Things got better for a while and she would call me alot and started opening up. However, the calls home every evening were getting longer and longer and more and more issues were being raised by DD.

The stuff she was raising was not what I would call "real problems" (i dont mean this harshly - i suspect they pissed her off but not the real issue) stuff like the food was crap (its bloody amazing - by her own admission at the start of term and I experience it regularly as I up at school so often sorting shit out),not much choice of activities, laundry timetable not suiting her sporting needs, Home economic classes being boring etc etc.

Anyway - there is more but this is going on for ever (SORRY) so to cut a long story short DD has few if any friends. A couple of girls who she has an acquiantance with are day girls. She had no Xmas cards from school to bring home and no photos from an overseas trip 2 weeks before the end of term to show me. The pics on her FB from other girls on this trip do not include DD. 2 pics that do show her - she is on the edge of the crowd stood on her own and looking lost sad.

My DD is a shadow of the girl she was last Sept before she started at this school' No self esteem. Total loss of self confidence.

So she goes back to school this week. Today we started packing and I started to ask her how she was feeling about going back - got the usual fine fine etc but when pressed loads of tears. She says there are no choice of after school clubs. Everything is at lunch time for the day girls and after school clubs are shit. All sport or dance. She used to love sport at her prep but now she hates it. She told me today she keeps getting picked for the school teams but she refuses to play. NO real reason given other than because its not the same and she does not know what she is doing.

Its killing me seeing her like this. Do we keep trying or pull her out??? Anyone been through similar? The school have been good to be fair. They call regularly, even in the holidays to see how she is and deal with issues as they raise.


bulletpoint Sun 06-Jan-13 20:12:18

Gutrude - i'm not a boarding school parent but based on what you have said boarding or day i would be pulling my daughter out immeadiately. The whole situation sounds horrendous and with self harming added into the equation, i feel you are running an awful risk sending her back there again.

Its seems the staff are trying although i dont fully understand the situation with the "troubled" girl but they are now putting other innocent children at risk esecially in a boarding environment. Unfortunately you can choose a school BUT cant choose the "peer group" for your child's year, you just have to hope for the best. Start looking at alternative schools asap and please don't delay.

difficultpickle Sun 06-Jan-13 20:51:36

Can't comment as no experience of what you are going through (we are at the happy prep boarding stage). However if my dc was going through what your dd is then I would definitely be removing her. She may say she does not want to move because of a lack of confidence in going somewhere new and starting again but what she has been through sounds horrific.

happygardening Mon 07-Jan-13 07:48:25

OP my DS2 full boarded from 7 yrs old during the last two years of his prep school he became increasingly miserable I like you could list a whole pile of ways in which the school let him down other parents at the school either disagree with my concerns or say that that was not their DCs experience. The bottom line is that you DD is very unhappy like your DD my DS didn't seem to want to leave even when we found him a very viable (day) alternative. We can all be clever in retrospect but I regret not over riding him and removing him. Sometimes as parents we should take away the decisions from our children even 13 yr olds. Remove her ASAP I would talk to the school and see if you can come to an arrangement where you don't have to pay a full terms fees.
You may be interested to know on being given the choice my DS went on to full board again at senior school. He is now very happy and thriving.

happygardening Mon 07-Jan-13 08:04:19

I would also add that I believe that part of my DS's problem was that the number of full boarders at his prep significantly declined during the time he was there leaving only a tiny minority in at the weekend. As I've said on numerous other occasions it doesn't matter what type of boarding you want the important thing is that it is what the overwhelming majority do. It is inevitable that a school with a lot of day children will mainly organise extra curricular activities during lunch breaks.
I appreciate that your finances are limited and also that boarding is eye wateringly expensive. Proper full boarding schools are charging about £33 000 PA because it really is a whole school running 24 hours a day 7 days a week and the requires extensive and expensive infrastructure. But bursaries are available to non members of the armed services let alone you. I don't know where you've looked before but it might be worth posting separately on MN about bursaries and boarding schools (Im afraid I only really know about boys schools so cant help). Or am I correct in thunking there is an organisation that advises those in the armed services about schools that are financially friendly to to the armed services?

PeriPathetic Tue 08-Jan-13 07:52:38

GurtrudesBosom - I'm lurking here as my DD is due to start boarding Prep in April, so I've no experience. But if your DD was mine, I'd be pulling her out pronto. She sounds an amazing girl, she really does, but to be trying so desperately hard to make friends and fit in that she's resorted to self-harm is wrong on so many levels sad

I've heard that many full boarding schools are prepared to give financial help to service families. It's not advertised, but it's well worth asking.

I hope you find somewhere for her soon.

Pythonesque Thu 10-Jan-13 08:23:08

GB I really hope you can sort things out - I wouldn't be leaving her there unless the school can explain exactly how they can make a massive change this term and really convince you it can happen. Good luck sorting out the right alternative(s).

I'm in a similar situation to bisjo, my daughter started last term as a boarding chorister (though she's slightly older, has just turned 10). I've been amazed how quickly she's settled in though we still need to encourage her to talk to people when she doesn't know something or has a problem. She's not a self-starter or terribly organised, but as I suspected is thriving on the structure and busy-ness. And on being in an environment where her interests in music are understood and normal. It's interesting to see how choirschools seem more likely to value and encourage achievement across the board (at least comparing her and her brother's schools with her previous school).

We're about an hour and a half away, and although we had her home a lot last term she's been promoted quickly so we will only have her home for one exeat and half term from now on. However we think we should be able to visit her and do lunch or afternoon outings on the weekends fairly frequently depending on timetables. Don't want her brother to have to do masses of sitting in the car though so have to find a balance!

At the moment I don't know if she will board for senior school or not and am somewhat dreading the process of working out where she will go. She'll have 4 years where she is, but most of the local schools prefer to do year 6 assessment for year 9 entry as well as their year 7 intake so we can't bury our heads in the sand for long about it ...

susiewong123 Fri 15-Mar-13 14:29:47

We are looking for a boarding school for 6th Form must have great pastoral care as he is leaving existing school due to bullying, he loves drama CCF any suggestions?

happygardening Fri 15-Mar-13 16:58:34

How academic is your DS and where approximately do you live?
St Edwards Oxford would is generally acknowledged by prep schools heads to be in a league of its own when it comes to pastoral care, the drama is excellent they are extensively involved in a local theatre The Wall and have a CCF. But although results are improving and are set to get better with the new head its not a super selective.

happygardening Fri 15-Mar-13 16:59:39

If your looking for this September I think your going to struggle to find anywhere there is already an extensive thread about this.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now