Boarding School or constant moves between International Schools?

(55 Posts)
alisita85 Sun 01-Sep-13 09:56:41

My husband and I are battling with the decision of what to do for our two sons education. Stick with me as its a bit complicated...

Both of our jobs take us to live overseas, but neither job is well paid - one as a government employee and one with a Church job. However both jobs provide a choice for our children to either be educated at an international school where we live or go to the UK for boarding school.

Our decision would be fairly straight forward and we wouldn't think twice about international school if we were going to be in one country for all their education. However we will be reposted to different countries every 2-3 years. I am concerned that moving to a new school, new country, new friends (or lack of), up to 6 times during their school lives will be detrimetal to their education and their ability to form lasting relationships. International schools vary greatly and we couldn't be sure they would have the same educational system (UK, USA, etc) from one year to the next.

Even more difficult will be that on occassion we will spend a couple of years working in the UK, at which point they would switch back from international school system into local state schools - taking whichever places are left as we don't have a UK address and won't be part of any regular intake. If however the boys attend boarding school they wouldn't have this issue as they will be entitled to continue in their boarding schools even whilst we are on home postings (potentially during those years as day/weekly boarders).

I've struggled to find any genuine academic studies on the importance of continuity of education, potential effects to relationships as an adult of constant moves as a child, or a balanced assesment of the pros/cons of boarding school (from prep age 9). So any recommedations of studies appreciated.

Also interested in personal experience - neither of us was privately educated so a new world for us!

I know this is a very controversial topic - and some of the old threads on boarding schools are quite offensive, so please keep comments helpful. We don't need you to offer criticism on our job choices and the implications that has and I can assure you we love our boys very much and aren't parents who want to 'ditch' our children at boarding school because we don't want them at home. We would find putting them in boarding school a very hard thing to do but would be prepared to if it is the best in the long run. Hence why we are asking advice on what would be the best for them in our unique circumstance.

So, any thoughts on which is best - boarding school from 9 years (v young to live away but with long holidays at home, supportive family living close by and stability) or regular moves to new schools (with no continuity of education or friends but the opportunity to live at home year round)???

CarpeVinum Sun 01-Sep-13 10:09:07

Would they pay for something like this...

There is also a primary aged one, Brightschool, but spelled differently, I'll see if I can find a link.

That way you get a British ed, have them at home with you and have continuity despite moves. But you do have to put your back into slotting them into real world social opportunities cos school doesn't provide it on a plate. And depending on time zones the school day can be at odd hours.

Might not suit or appeal, but if niether of the brick options appeal it's possibly a potential compromise.

CarpeVinum Sun 01-Sep-13 10:09:18
Bowlersarm Sun 01-Sep-13 10:13:32

Is there no compromise?

I.e. could they be schooled locally, then go abroad to school at 13 which would be a far easier an age to deal with it.

RustyBear Sun 01-Sep-13 10:16:55

My BIL was a diplomat (now retired) so he and my sister had a similar choice and they decided to put both my nephews in boarding school rather than have to keep moving them. DH and I used to pick them up and put them on the plane for holidays, and we sometimes had them for half term when their parents were far away.

My sister preferred the stability of boarding school to frequent moves and was very glad both boys were safely in England during Suharto's fall in Indonesia in 1998, when they had a tank in the front garden, barbed wire all around the boundary and their house full of refugees - some of them with horrifying stories to tell. I don't know what part of the world you are likely to be in, but its potential stability might be part of the equation.

Both boys are close to their parents, though I don't think they illustrate one way or another the effects of boarding school on a child's independence - one is the most independent person I've ever met, the other the complete opposite.

They both went to Windlesham House School - quite a long time ago, as they are 31 and 28 now, but I have seen the school warmly recommended on here recently.

Kenlee Sun 01-Sep-13 10:22:30

I opted for boarding school in the UK for some very obvious reasons.

1) She will have a continuity in her education and friendship circles.

2) Her accent will remain British and not an amalgamation of different accents

3) The most important is that she will get a fantastic oppurtunity to be herself and to be what she wants to be.

Others may complain and groan at the decsion but as we are not in the country. I think what others think is rather arbitrary.

Lampshadeofdoom Sun 01-Sep-13 10:29:36

I would look at inter high or board. Dc are on school 7 in primary and its been very disruptive.

mirry2 Sun 01-Sep-13 10:39:47

I would send them to boarding school at 11. This is what happened to me. Constant moving school wasn't a problem for me up to that age and I think that's why I've always been able to adapt easily to change and have always been able to socialise and fit. My education suffered but I soon caught up at boarding school, which I loved.

CarpeVinum Sun 01-Sep-13 10:44:29

Found it !

That's the primary age one.

Have no idea what it's like, I've never used it. But like Interhigh it is based on live lessons not independant distance learning.

PeriPathetic Sun 01-Sep-13 10:59:58

If you know you will be overseas for the duration of their education you could look at schools teaching the International Baccalaureate system. This ensures that whenever the kids change schools they won't end up repeating subjects.

That's the idea of it anyway. IME it doesn't quite work like that, but it's better than moving from curriculum to curriculum.

Some kids do really well when changing schools a lot, others don't. It's very hard to know how it will all turn out too.

We've gone the boarding route as it was better for our child.

ChimneyDeep Sun 01-Sep-13 11:04:22

I was going to say boarding school before I read they were only 9. If you can wait for secondary age and you think your children would suit the school you've chosen, then boarding could be a great move offering real stability and a good standard of education. Friends I know who move about, albeit with much younger children, have found standards at different schools/in different systems vary wildly, and the social side is extra complicated in international schools by the whole school population being so transient, it wouldn't be just your dc moving about.

BettyBotter Sun 01-Sep-13 11:09:19

Having boarded myself I'd say definitely international school until starting GCSEs (14). Then board them if you have no alternative.

Don't miss your 9 year old's childhood. sad

summermakesmesneeze Sun 01-Sep-13 11:12:40

As I child I attended several schools due to my parents moving about, and I can honestly say it wasn't a problem for me until I started secondary school. We moved halfway through my first year and I was GUTTED to be leaving my friends and some great teachers. I never settled into my next (and final) school. I think it's such a big change going into secondary and friendships are so important at that stage.
If it was me I would find a boarding school that fits all my criteria for when my kids got to that age.

Elibean Sun 01-Sep-13 11:15:47

I have a dear friend whose parents moved every 2-3 years (her father worked for Shell). She was definitely affected by the loss of friends over and over again, and has grieved that as an adult.

That said, if her family had acknowledged and honoured the losses, and helped her keep in touch with friends, it would have made a huge difference (she says). They coped with guilt by brushing losses under the carpet and 'moving on', which wasn't helpful at all.

She then went to boarding school for Secondary, which was a good experience, for her (but then, her family were stressful to be with so a good escape!).

So I would say, International Schools for primary - when kids need their parents/family more than their friends. And then the choice of boarding for secondary, when education and friendships start to assume a lot more importance.

But it's a hard call, and not black and white, and depends on the child too....what does your child say about it, OP?

NoComet Sun 01-Sep-13 11:35:58

9-11 y DCs are, perhaps the most fun they will ever be.

I totally agree boarding school at 11 or 13 (DDs friends scho has a lot of local day children from local state schools and it's main intake is 11, others schools tend to pupils from prep schools and seniors start at 13) if that's what they want.

9 is too young for them to decide, they'll either knee jerk say they'll miss you or knee jerk say they want to make permanent friends.

Truth is 9-11 friendships are pretty unstable, DD1 went to senior school with her friends, but she isn't in lessons with them because they are in different groups and sets.

Yes a boarding school might organise thinks to keep long young boarders with their junior friends, but as I say our local schools senior depts. are way larger than the junior schools. There is a large influx of state school DC, overseas DCs and pupils from little private schools. Peer groups will change.

gininteacupsandleavesonthelawn Sun 01-Sep-13 11:42:11

Given that you've said neither is Highly paid etc I'd find new jobs meaning we could stay in one country for at least the bulk of their education. At a push I'd say internationals schools, I wouldn't even entertain the uk boarding school idea.

Labro Sun 01-Sep-13 11:48:22

How old are your children now? Moving every 2-3 yrs depending on ages can fit into the 'normal' moves quite nicely (infant, junior, secondary) my brother is a vicar and has moved around on a similar time scale, the need to 'stay put' educationally only really became necessary when his dd became secondary age. If possible, most friends I know do international school for primary years and then boarding from 11 onwards but that does depend on which country you are likely to be in and its stability. Another friend has moved from Australia - England - Canada - Malaysia and then back to Aus all in the space of her sons 9 yrs spending on average 2 yrs in each place, and has found the best way of doing it is to have dc in either the independent school or international school system in each country, as they then don't end up in different year groups each time. If looking at boarding, check the actual numbers of full boarders, the number of international boarders, what happens at weekends (you don't want a school that empties out on Saturday until Monday morning) and whether there is facility to flexi board when and if you need it as some don't offer that option.

alisita85 Sun 01-Sep-13 13:36:54

Thanks for all the advice. I'm amazed by Interhigh - looks incredible and although I'm not sure its right for us but its definitely not something I'd rule out either - especially if we decide against boarding and end up somewhere with not so great international schools.
Good tips Elibean on dealing with the loss of friends - even if we go for boarding school, we will still be moving house regularly and that inevitably implies loss (even if just of a favourite bedroom, pet etc) and its a good reminder that its better to deal with this properly that just tough it out!
We haven't spoken to the boys yet about what they want to do - I think we wanted to have some idea ourselves of what our ideal situation is before giving them options we wouldn't be happy with. Our eldest would definitely leap at any chance of independence but our youngest is much quieter personality so don't know how he'd react. Our other concern is that they are utterly inseperable and the youngest would find it v hard to be left behind if his big brother went away to boarding school 2 years before him.

senua Sun 01-Sep-13 16:44:55

I think that continuity of education gets more important as they get older i.e. as they get to public exams.
Before that, their educational level isn't so important. There are pages and pages of Government stuff online so you should be able to spot any glaring omissions in the DCs' education and rectify it yourself (anything up to and including Y8 isn't going to be rocket science!). Can you access BBC bitesize from abroad?

Also interested in personal experience - neither of us was privately educated so a new world for us!

Not all boarding schools are private; do you know about State boarding schools?

Talkinpeace Sun 01-Sep-13 18:42:21

Friends are currently in the far east with their kids at the international school and looking at UK boarding from 13 as the relocations continue
At younger ages, they feel that being near parents is more important than continuity.
At the older ages it flips.

NB inseparable at 7 may be very happy to be apart by 13 !!

senua Sun 01-Sep-13 19:30:59

Our other concern is that they are utterly inseparable and the youngest would find it v hard to be left behind if his big brother went away to boarding school 2 years before him.

As TIP says, much can change over the next few years and they may be glad to see the back of each other when the time comes.grin However, if the two years difference also means two academic years then it does seem ideal: you could send them off together - one for Y9 and the other for Y7 - so they could look out for each other at school.

mirry2 Sun 01-Sep-13 19:54:08

I never had a problem with going to boarding school because my parents always talked about it (and in a very positive way) as fact from when I was about 6 years old. I don't remember them ever saying a negative word, and that was also how they dealt with moving schools and countries - as an adventure.
(And I went to a lot of schools - about a dozen in different countries- before I went to boarding school at 11).

Gatita1980 Sun 01-Sep-13 20:22:24

I was at boarding school from 10-18 and loved it, I was at one between 10-13 and then Marlborough College 13-18. I had many friends who were International Students and they were always happy to have the continuity of friends and staff, especially in the exam years.
I now teach and would advocate boarding school if it would provide stability for your children, I see how much moving around disrupts students.
Good luck with your decision.

BlackMogul Sun 01-Sep-13 20:29:47

I would definitely opt for boarding. Moving all the time and leaving friends behind can be traumatic and damaging . There are boarding schools that start at 13 for senior school but have prep school boarding schools attached to them. Or do the international school for the youngest for 2 years then move to the same senior school. Many families do not have children in the same schools at the same time and boarding means lots of new friends for older child and how long will he socialise with his brother anyway? Children do grow up and form different friendship groups.

mercibucket Sun 01-Sep-13 20:41:27

if you will be mixing in internatiinal circles and international schools, most foreign nationals and us service will be using internstional schools and moving every 2 or 3 years. they will know loads of people in lots of countries and will be internationalist rather than uk in outlook. i know loads of people who grew up like this. they tend to go on to work abroad and like travelling, but so did their parents!

CarpeVinum Sun 01-Sep-13 20:48:13

I'm amazed by Interhigh

I know. I was all "do what?" at first. My son's friends are still all a bit shock "has back to the future actually arrived and is the jet pack next?" even after a year of him attending there.

I'm pretty sure that in my rural backwater village, with its "well below national average internet access" half the place thinks I'm some kind of scifi fantasist when I say what kind of school he goes to.

We got lucky, I picked it becuase I was out of options and close to pulling my hair out, but as it turned out it's a great fit for him and even if we moved back to the UK I'd keep him there.

Thank god, cos after six years of bad fit I was beginning to lose hope...and my sanity. grin

I hope the final choice turns out to relatively easy and works put on first go for you love, I wouldn't wish protracted "can't find the right sort of school as a compromise between where we live and the education he needs" kerfuffle on anybody. It's very trying.

KingRollo Sun 01-Sep-13 20:49:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KingRollo Sun 01-Sep-13 20:51:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Vatta Sun 01-Sep-13 21:02:55

I don't think 9 is necessarily too young to board, I know plenty of people who boarded from even younger and they all turned out fine! I would go for boarding in your situation. Also the boys wouldn't need to be separated - a lot of private boarding schools (known as prep schools) take boys from 7 to 13, so sounds like they'd be together.

Xpatmama88 Sun 01-Sep-13 21:10:46

We moved every couple of years because of my DH's work, I think when the children are young, it is a wonderful experience for them to see other parts of the world and understand different cultures. To be honest, it is also hard for them, with every move they'll miss all their friends, and have to work hard to make new one. In an Int'l Sch, it normally helps, as every term there is always new faces.
We eventually decided my DD's education is as important as my DH's career, so we sent her back to UK to board while we were in Asia. She passed the entrance exam of one of the top girl boarding school, she was 12 then ( not the normal 11+ or 13+ entrance), it's a tough decision. She was far away from us, and we missed her terribly, but she's having a great time. That was 10 years ago, now she is in her 5th year studying Medicine.
We did the same for our younger DS, couple years ago he sat the 13+ entrance exam at an very academic boy boarding school, he got in. The school really suits him, and he settles in very quickly, he makes lots of friends.
And yes, we are still moving from one country to another.(expat for 17 years). We did not regret our decisions.
I think it is better to keep DCs with you when they are still young (subject to how safe the country you are located), but as they get older, their education needs should be considered. Sending them boarding at secondary school, at least you know that they will have uninterrupted schooling for at least 5 to 7 years. Mind you, finding the right boarding school is also very important!

nooka Sun 01-Sep-13 21:34:45

I agree 13 and 11 are probably the ages to be thinking about boarding school. One thing to note though is that lots of boarding schools have junior and senior schools with very little interaction between them.

If you've close family living near the school could they potentially weekly board and live with family at the weekend? I've friends who do that with their girls and that seems to work well, the girls have very close relationships with their grandparents who are very happy to have them.

I went to boarding school for sixth form and generally my friends who boarded later were happier than those that boarded earlier. The ones that had been to international schools before boarding had mostly really enjoyed living abroad.

teabagpleb Sun 01-Sep-13 21:50:52

I went to an international school for last year of primary, then boarded. My parents gave me the choice age 9 of boarding immediately or having that one year of international school first.

For me, boarding was great (well, it involved being a teenager, but possibly easier to be away from parents for the duration!), and the international school was a social disaster as all the other kids there in my year were seasoned expats and 2-3 years older than me. In retrospect it would have been better to send me to a local school to pick up the language, and then board for the start of secondary.

I would look into options for local education for primary aged kids, especially if there's the opportunity to learn a language - for secondary I think continuity and education in English are needed, which probably means boarding. With Skype and email and texts, many kids are talking to their parents as much as they would if living at home!

Shootingatpigeons Mon 02-Sep-13 04:31:37

My DDs years at International Primaries were the best of their educational experiences. The turnover is an issue but it is negative and positive, sad when friends move on or they have to start over with new friendships but also positive to have had friends from different cultures, and to have learned the flexibility and open mindedness needed to fit in. Living in other cultures was very stimulating, for them and us, it was an adventure the family shared and is still important to us.

However come 11 DD1 and many of her peers started to want the consistency and familiarity of a home country school, fitting in and understanding the norms is very important to teenagers and they find having to adapt to new norms very difficult when they are already wrestling with the challenges of growing up. We moved back and missed our expat home hugely (and the DDs do find children who haven't experienced other cultures to sometimes be a bit narrow minded and lacking in empathy for not just other cultures but also other social groups) but when we had a chance to go back when DD1 was 14 she was vehement she didn't want to return, and have to fit in to a teen culture that was no longer familiar.

I would take your lead from your DCs, when an International School is a positive experience then it gives them all sorts of useful life skills and experiences but once they start to want the consistency and familiarity they will soon let you know. In the end most of DD1s Year 6 class ended up in home country boarding schools, even when parents started out anti boarding.

FairPhyllis Mon 02-Sep-13 04:50:36

I have a couple of friends who describe themselves as 'third culture kids' - parents were diplomats, so they went to international schools in a different country every 2-3 years. They don't have much real connection with their native cultures and feel like outsiders there. They only really have a lot in common with and hang around with other super-mobile expats.

OTOH I know a lot of people who went to boarding school and only one of them had a really bad experience.

Could you wait until they are 11 and 13 and send them to board then? I think there is something about growing up with a stable peer group that is a really valuable thing, as well the educational continuity.

happygardening Mon 02-Sep-13 06:50:33

Heres my admittedly anecdotal experience both my DS's full boarded from yr 3 one is still full boarding now yr 11 neither are dysfunctional sociopaths in fact at a recent family party so many commented on how "charming" and normal the younger one who can't really remember not boarding is. The relationship between me and them is fantastic. We obviously know lots of boarders in similar situations I'm talking 100's 99% are the same. Boarding can work even for younger children that yours OP the key is to find the right school Windlesham has an outstanding reputation with lots of children from abroad so lots of full boarders which is essential in your position. Go and look with an open mind I think you'll be more than pleasantly surprised.

Eastpoint Mon 02-Sep-13 06:58:42

I have friends with children at Windlesham who are really happy there - impressive extra curricular opportunities and they seem to look at each child individually. I think it's hard to sustain relationships as an adult if you have to keep changing environment during your childhood & adolescence. It's only now in my 40s I've lived in the same place for more than 6 years (& that was 0-6).

Needmoresleep Mon 02-Sep-13 07:22:20

Another option used by families who move frequently is the French system. There is greater central control over what is taught on a day to day basis, which makes transfers relatively easy and allows for a greater level of consistency.
One family I know happened on this by chance. They were in a French speaking country when their children were starting school so thought they might give them the chance of a second language. Then discovered they could remain in the system through a varied career encompassing not just the third world but London and New York. They discovered they were far from alone.
FWIW the Lycee in London has a good reputation and is far cheaper than comparable private day schools.

Shootingatpigeons Mon 02-Sep-13 13:06:11

Only downside to our expat experience was a French International School, zero pastoral care. my husband's side of the family are French, and bilingual so it seemed an obvious choice. However after DD1 had to cope with a bullying teacher, and finally came home with concussion because there was a daily battle of Agincourt in the playground and she was knocked out, but teachers just sent her home in a taxi, and my DD2 aged 4 came home with her French friends humiliated because they were wet (it turned out Reception kids were taken to the bus 10 mins before the older pupils and when she and her friends needed the loo they were told that they had now left the school and the teachers no longer had responsibility for them, they were therefore in the charge of the bus company, so the driver had no option but to tell them to pee on the pavement ) my DH was first in the queue to get them out of there. I have heard many similar stories of disinterest in any aspect of child welfare beyond the academic and the classroom. Their British system school could not have been more different, nurturing and child centred.

Madsometimes Mon 02-Sep-13 20:30:45

I would say send them to an international school until secondary school, and then choose a boarding school which meets the needs of your family. Possibly, you may want to put them into a boarding school at the beginning of Y6 if a move happens to coincide with this age, otherwise Y7.

I think that continuity in secondary school is very important. Once children start their GCSE courses, then moving schools is very disruptive. Many schools now get children to choose their options in Y8 and run 3 year GCSE courses, so definitely boarding school for secondary school.

MrsSchadenfreude Tue 03-Sep-13 06:09:01

We are in a similar situation to you, and about to put both of ours in boarding school. DD1 is 15, and has been in an American school for the past four years, so has gone to an American international school in UK, where she is a weekly boarder (and will do the IB - it was too late to move her back to the UK system for GCSEs). She was adamant that she didn't want to move schools again, and we have promised her that this will be her final school. DD2 is 12, and is going back into the UK system, again boarding weekly, but will board full time if we go overseas again after 4 years.

We have been lucky in that the schools our two have attended have been excellent, but the quality of international schools does differ from place to place. And neither of mine have picked up an American accent!

SubliminalMassaging Tue 03-Sep-13 06:31:15

I would suggest you keep them with until at least aged 11, possibly to aged thirteen, then let them board. Lack of continuity is unlikely to be much of an issue academically until senior school, and as for lack of continuity from a social/pastoral perspective, I can't imagine it could be any more damaging than the risks of sending them to board at too young an age.

On the other hand, I would be very wary about moving them around every two years in senior school.

I went to boarding school by choice and absolutely loved it but ime boys have it a bit tougher than girls so I would wait til secondary age at least and then send them together.

Dunlurking Tue 03-Sep-13 07:32:34

I recommend following up on FairPhyllis's mention of Third Culture Kids. There is a good summary on Wikipedia. It gives you an idea of the impact on kids of the different scenarios.

FWIW I was a missionary child and my parents brought us back to the UK when I was eleven, having homeschooled my brother and I until then. I was lucky enough to be based in one Asian town for most of my first 11 years, but other expats came and went around us every few years and I now see why I am hopeless at keeping in touch with friends - I mentally assume that friendships are only meant to last the 6 months, 1 year, 2 years etc that you live in the same geographical area as that friend! Of course in those days it was snail mail only, I'm sure skype helps enormously now.

I went to an state day school from 11 to 16 and no one understood my background, in fact I would say I felt Asian, in a very white town. I was happy enough, but moving to a school with a large International Sixth Form at 16 was very welcome. There were pupils from the country, and even the town, where I had lived. I have married an Asian man who also has a third culture kid background, probably unsurprisingly! On the plus side, I am incredibly close to my parents still. They have retired next door to me....

I hope you can find what is best for your family alisita85.

Vietnammark Tue 03-Sep-13 10:06:43

If your destinations are safe and have good international schools then I would go the international route until they at older, then reconsider.

turkeyboots Tue 03-Sep-13 10:12:08

I moved schools every 2-3 years internationally. Was fine, international schools and their pupils are very supportive of this. Some of my friends siblings did the boarding school route though and hated it. But that was more due to the perception of the favoured child getting to stay with parents.

mirry2 Tue 03-Sep-13 18:39:06

I am a white UK citizen and lived all my early years in the so called third world and thn spent my teenage years in boarding school, flying back to parents in the holidays. Most of my contemporaries at boarding school also had international backgrounds and cultures. I had a very sophisticated, privileged background and upbringing, but in other ways I and my friends were cushioned from the harsh realities of the First World, for example I had never come across racist attitudes and behaviours prevalent in the UK at the time.

JumpingJetFlash Tue 03-Sep-13 18:56:53

I'm going to go against the grain here by saying that changing schools every 2/3 years is not that big a deal. My Dad was in the forces and we moved til he came out when I was 16 - often part way through a year. Yes it was sad to leave friends but we made new ones and it was what everyone was doing so I never knew any difference. I love the fact that I've lived all over and met lots of different ppl. Educationally it hasn't held me or many of my forces friends back.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 04-Sep-13 10:13:53

We are very mobile and kept the children with us until 14 and then they went to boarding school. It has been a great success all round. Moving isn't such a big deal as a25 % turn over each year isn't uncommon and schools and children are much better at accommodating this than they are I. More stable communities.

Actually I wouldn't deny your children the fascinating experience of living overseas with you for at least a few years. My children would not have missed it for the world and they were schooled in 5/6 schools in 5 different countries before boarding. it didn't derail them academically.

In practical terms it is the return to the UK with no address from which to apply to state schools which might prove a bit of a headache.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 04-Sep-13 11:26:51

I would just add to my earlier comments that I have acted as UK guardian to a number of the children of expats, most of whom came over age 11 or 13, at their own instigation. It has been a positive experience for all of them and they do not lose the Third country kid experience since at the right schools they are with other expats and pupils from other cultures, providing it is managed well, CLC are in my experience particularly good at this but I gather, and in one case experienced that, in some boarding schools they allow a them and us culture to develop (and in some schools it starts with the staff) . And of course the holidays are long smile

The only problem I have encountered that was out of the ordinary scrapes and bumps of teenage life was with a 9 year old at a prep that gets mentioned in threads on Mumsnet. They had been sent, rather than wanting to come, and the school were seemingly incapable of acknowledging profound unhappiness. They eventually settled but frankly both parents and school could have shown more empathy and emotional support.

alisita85 Fri 06-Sep-13 03:42:40

Thanks all for such positive responses - I was terrified before posting this would turn into an attack on any parent that would consider boarding for youngish children! I think looking at everyones posts we will definitely start looking whenever we are back in the UK on leave to try and find a boarding school that might be a good fit. Also good tips on starting talking to the boys about it in a positive way so its not a surprise, and think about keeping them with us for another few years until maybe 13 and 11 years old.

It seems to be that the most successful stories have been where parents have been prepared to be flexible and change their plans after listening to their children.
I suppose the real answer is that anything can work as long as it is a decision made with love, for the best of your children and that no matter what the children know that they are loved and have a close relationship with their parents.
Fingers crossed it works out that simply in practice!!!

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 06-Sep-13 14:46:31

Alisita, we asked our two what they wanted or didn't want from a school. This helped narrow our focus hugely, and made them feel as if they had some say in where they were going. DD2 wanted no school uniform, not religious, not single sex, and strong at art, where she could continue her French and learn Japanese as well, and where she could have her own bedroom. A tough ask, but we found what we think is the perfect school for her!

oscarwilde Fri 06-Sep-13 17:10:14

I would also think that boarding for second level would work best for your sons preferably at 11 & 13 when they can go together. 9 & 11 seems v young especially since your DS2 is the less gregarious of the two.
Lots of schools offer trial weekends so perhaps it is worth looking into whether they could attend for a week or two as a boarder if you are home during the 9-13 years as a taster.

The only caveat to all of that is your incomes and I would choose schools very carefully on that basis.
How isolated will they be at boarding school especially if your income doesn't run to ski trips etc in half term (too short to come to you)
Proximity to any family for visits
How often can you budget to come and see them, or meet them half way.

Mrs S - it sounds like a fab school. Is it in the UK?

mirry2 Fri 06-Sep-13 20:17:57

The only caveate I would add to my previous positive posts about boarding school is about age. Most of the children at my school started at 11 but I do remember one ltttle girl of none who was very unhappy. she missed her parents who lived in Africa and used to wet the bed. We were all very supportive of her (no bullying in my school - really). My brother went at 10 and I do remember the night before he went, that he was crying at night because he'd read a Billy Bunter story which i think was about bullying at boarding school My dm came in to comfort him, saying they were very old stories, written long ago when times were different etc and he was fine after that. So you need to make sure your dc are emotionally ready.
The other thing was that we went to a co-ed school, supposedly to keep each other company and I remember my df laughing when we said we didn't speak to each other all term as we were too busy doing our own things and making friends.

I really did love my school and I am still in contact with school friends scattered all over the world. We all loved each other like siblings - sorry to be soppy about it.

duckylou Thu 19-Sep-13 00:50:51

Your OP isa but vague on dates. It sounds like you're I would wait to see if your postings really do change so rapidly and keep the family together in the meanwhile at international schools. For all the anecdotes about screwed up expat children, i know of screwed up boarding school individuals who have all the symptoms of being institutionalised during their teens. In most cultures the only children sent 'away' to school are difficult ones or those below average in their studies. Its very British idea to think that staying at school is better than coming home at the end of your school day.

duckylou Thu 19-Sep-13 00:51:59

Sorry for my typos!

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