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Boarding School - what age?

(14 Posts)
RedAloe Sat 24-Sep-11 19:22:46

I know the answer to this is going to be "depends on the child" but out of interest I would like to know what people think. My son is at an excellent school which is predominantly boarding, though he is a day boy. He is 14 and wants to board and I am torn. I actually think he would be ok - not homesick, relish the independence and so on - but I am not sure I am ready to relinquish the home influence yet. Is this just selfish and unrealistic? Should I be letting him board and thereby helping him to fly the coop? I'd be worried about his work suffering as well. Any thoughts?

RedAloe Sat 24-Sep-11 19:29:52

He would be home every Sunday.

DazR Sat 24-Sep-11 19:34:53

Is it full-time boarding or flexi-boarding (home weekends)? Does he intend to stay at the school until he is 18? If he boards then his whole life will revolve around the school (and the friends he has made there) making it difficult if he leaves. If he is a day boy he can meet other local kids at 'outside' activities making any future transition much easier for him. Are you happy for him to board? I personally would not want my kids to grow up away from the home environment but everyone is different. DD1 is now at uni and I accept that they have to leave home at some stage but I'm glad it wasn't earlier.

RedAloe Sat 24-Sep-11 20:45:22

He would be home every Sunday and approximately every fifth weekend from Thur eve to Mon eve. I can't say it would be my choice personally either, but I do wonder whether as he is happy at the school, we are happy with them, and he is so keen to board (primarily in my opinion so he can have fun with his mates - we are not talking about someone who is trying to maximise the study potential of the working day or any of that stuff) we ought to let him. He has grown up a lot over the last couple of years and I think he'd enjoy it - I wonder whether this is more important than what I want. The home influence has always been strong for him - perhaps too strong - perhaps I need to let him have independence now? Most of his friends are school ones.

I am unsure. So often with parenting you have an inner instinct saying This Is the Right Course and then you sort of rationalise towards it. I seem to be missing the inner instinct on this one!

penguin73 Sat 24-Sep-11 23:19:16

I think it does depend on the child as you say - DS is now 15 and has become much closer and dependent emotionally on us the last 2 years then he ever had been before -hormones, exam stress etc etc. Had you asked 3 years ago I would have had no qualms about thinking him able to cope with it had it been an option I would consider but now I would hate to think of us not being there for him when he wanted/needed us.

I have colleagues who sent their children at 10 and thought it wonderful - and an interesting chat with a group of teenagers over the summer who had gone at 13 and had been there 4 years - two loved it whilst two hated it and had found it very difficult (although there parents raved about how much they loved it, I was dying to tell them about what their daughters had really been saying!)

It really does come down to parental instinct on this one, you will get a myriad of different experiences/opinions on here.

RedAloe Sun 25-Sep-11 08:45:30

Hmmm that is interesting about your DS swerving back towards you for support. I do think that my son seems independent now but a lot of it is probably bravado and just getting carried away on the thrilling tide of being part of a more grown-up world. I think we will sit tight for the moment and review in a year or two.

happygardening Sun 25-Sep-11 14:31:40

My DS has full boarded at two schools, a prep and now a senior school from, 7 he's now 13. He will tell you that it is very difficult to be a day boy in a predominately boarding school and vice versa. You are always slightly on the outside this is not intentional on the the part of the boarders but just they way it is. Even if he stays at school till 9pm he will still miss out on things that the boarders do that ultimately creates bonds between them; even if its only dorm raids and squabbles about when alarm clocks should be set. I don't think it matters which one you do providing you are in the majority.

SheWhoMustNotBeFlamed Sun 25-Sep-11 14:33:57

If he does 'swerve', can he go back to being a day boy? If so, it seems risk free to let him have a go at boarding. He will have about 15 weeks at home during the hols.

BCBG Sun 25-Sep-11 14:42:12

I would let him board. All mine have boarded and I have today hoofed my eldest off on the train back to uni for his last year and he is just as much a homebody as any kid, just also more able to cope independently than some. Basically it does depend on the child: some get to uni and really struggle with homesickness (ds is Welfare Officer for this year and he says it can be really dreadful for some of the students (and they tell their mums they're having a fantastic time too sad ) and boarding at the right time can help. Equally some will leave for the first time at 18 and be fine. Personally, I believe in letting them show me they can be trusted, and then setting the pace, so if he would like to board I would go with it.

RedAloe Sun 25-Sep-11 20:58:26

I think there is something in the minority thing - in fact the school does seem to make a considerable effort to make sure day pupils are full members of the school but the view seems to be boarders have more fun. He can stay late, he can even go in at the weekends for activities on top of matches and so on, but there is no glamour factor in having to leave - like being the person who's collected early from a party. One of his friends is a day boy too, and I think unlikely in the short term to end up boarding. I did always say he'd be day, and then boarding when ready, but I was thinking more in terms of it being when he was 16 - not 14.

Thanks for considered responses. I was mildly expecting a few "boarding! you heartless hag!" comments.

happygardening Sun 25-Sep-11 21:33:57

Its nothing short of a miracle that you haven't had any "heartless hag" comments. Usually just mentioning the word boarding brings out the anti boarding school brigade in hoards. Maybe their pontificating about something else!

goinggetstough Mon 26-Sep-11 07:08:44

happy where are the anti boarding brigade. They didn't appear on another boarding school thread a few days ago either. Maybe they have decided that parents should be allowed to make their own minds up about whether to board or not!!!!!!
redaloe Mind boarded from prep in a full (well almost) boarding school. We are all still very close. They skype us most days and we email every day. You mention that you worry his work will suffer. Most schools keep a very close eye on prep and have a specific prep time, so staff can spot difficulties. Plus there is no travelling each day so in theory they have more time for work, activities and should be less tired. I agree that the minority of day could be the issue.Good luck with your decision.

meditrina Mon 26-Sep-11 07:18:39

In your case, I'd do it asap. Leaving it until the near approach of GCSEs will be more disruptive. He's old enough to have a view on where he lives in term time, and I think he is old enough on this one to have his views respected.

mountaingirl Mon 26-Sep-11 11:14:48

Ds1 was one month short of his 15th birthday when he left us in France to board in the UK. He found the first two weeks a bit of a shock and then settled in without any problems. He always says that he would much prefer being a boarder at the school and wouldn't want to be a day pupil. I threaten from time to time that we'll relocate and he can be a day boy and then his dsis and dbro can go as well. Not impressed by that suggestion at all! He loves his life there, the independence it gives him and then he comes back home and catches up with all his friends (and us occassionally!).

The downside for us at home is he has gone. The family dynamics have changed. I absolutely do not miss the arguments, nagging about homework and all the other cr-p that goes on in a large family, but I do miss not having my kids all together.

redaloe I'd let your son go, he sounds like he'd really enjoy himself being a boarder.

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