Boarding - positives please(57 Posts)
My beautiful son wants to board next year - year 9 and I'm being very positive about it even though I'm going to miss him like crazy it is just me and him and always has been really. Please tell me what he will get out of it positively and help me not to have a crying fit when he goes as you see I'm preparing well in advance !
It's like summer camp EVERY DAY. You wake up with your friends around.The independence of running your own life (within the school schedule) is exciting and helped me grow and learn to be flexible. I met people from all over the world. And going home for weekends was something to really look forward to.
I was a Houseparent in a boys house- we had fun, so much fun!
Weekday evenings involved prep but house staff made sure the boys were happy with their work, and if they weren't they would let the teacher who set it know. There was down time in the evenings too and the boys could watch TV, play games, read, play outside, pretty much whatever they wanted.
We made sure that weekends were fun too and as well as the organised trips we had other activities in-house they could do. We had a movie on Saturday evening with popcorn or ice creams. Then we would settle them down with hot chocolate and toast before bed.
Houseparents are always happy to talk to parents too, if you are worried or missing your son we want to know so we can reassure you.
Great for highly mobile families as it allows children to stay in one school, one system, and develop long lasting friendships.
Great for parents who want a particular school for their children but live a long way away. (Subject offering, extra curricular, SEN of all types).
Great for parents who work long hours/are tied up with a sibling with SEN/ are themselves ill.
For the right child - robust, self starter, not too sensitive - community living is great. Develops independence, tolerance, confidence.
Friends permanently on tap.
Can be purgatory for a sensitive child. "Banter" can hurt.
Can be a bit of a parallel universe - everyone rolling in money and wearing designer clothes
You don't see your children as much as you might like (though usually they do not care!)
Expensive and getting more so - which means the peer group is getting more and more restrictive.
There will be occasions when they might need you, but you are not there.
Good for increasing their social lives, especially if an only child or a long distance from friends.
I didn't board and never wanted to but I went daily to a boarding school which I thought was great. Several of the girls lived within a mile of the school - one 200 yards away! - but they chose to board because they thought it was more fun to be with their friends.
Four of DD's friends went to boarding schools - all different ones - and they all think it's terrific. One in particular wasn't doing particularly well at prep school but her results have shot up since she started to board. They have to do prep in the library at a set time and this routine is clearly beneficial to this particular girl.
Boarding makes you very self sufficient and organised- you can tell ex-boarders amongst university first years a mile off! It also means you create incredibly strong bonds with your friends that will stay for life- it's a unique teenager hood and only fellow boarders can really understand how that works. The main con (for me) is that I came out at 18 without a close relationship with my parents- my support network was my friends.
Do you actually want him to do it? it's your decision, not his. There are good things and bad things: are any of the bad things "deal breakers" for you? They are for me. My DH boarded and had a great time, but unforeseen circumstances notwithstanding I would never ever agree to it for our DC, whatever the DCs' views, and we had that conversation before ttc.
Reckon DH would probably say:
With friends a lot
Used to living away from family, making transition to work or uni easier.
Forced to do homework ("prep")
Fixed timetables for things
Sadness at / after the end of holidays
One of the huge benefits for me was being able to fit so much more into the school day as I didn't have to factor in travelling time/helping at home/going to the supermarket etc. I could swim before breakfast, have a quartet rehearsal at lunchtime, play in orchestra/play tennis/rehearse for a play after school, do prep for a couple of hours and still have time to hang out with my friends afterwards. It was very full on but that was great for me. You make friends for life. I still meet up with my 6 best friends from school every few months for a weekend, they are like sisters to me. I would say I have a better relationship with my parents than I might have done otherwise, they missed out on the stroppy teenage years and school did all the discipline.
Hello Dozer I want him to board because I know he will love it he's so happy to board at his prep and wants to be with his friends so much thank you
Great, but why do you need info on the positives?
It's natural to feel upset about the separation and OK to feel that way while wanting this for him.
Cost cons not so bad if you choose state boarding at a fraction of the cost of private boarding 8k to 15k per year.
I took out a loan for 2 years state boarding and best loan I ever took. Academically and socially and great prep for university.
Re information on the positives because when I read them it strengthens my resolve that I am doing the best thing for him thank you to everyone who has replied
As the parent of teens now I concur with what welshweasel said about my parents missing the worst bits of teenagerhood 😀. Also about enforced prep etc. I was never ever homesick (although some girls were) but I think that was maybe because I knew from an early age I would board (forces family)
and I was obsessed with Malory Towers so I just accepted it as the norm IYSWIM
One thing I would change with the benefit of hindsight - girls only was all well and good but I was incredibly naive when it came to boys especially at Uni. I think a co-ed environment is probably socially more beneficial
A lot has been said by previous PPs.
Allows spontaneity for fun and activities with friends. In the right school so many more possibilities to fit into evenings and weekends which are at the most a short walk away plus the independence for a DC to choose for themself what they want to do rather than following the lead of the parents. DC trying things which might be outside their comfort zone because others are as well within the house or school. Debates and banter with a group in the evening rather than requiring social media to make contact.
A framework for the routine and discipline of sufficient time for homework with the knowledge that others are also working and help is at hand if needed from peers and teachers. Relaxed more mature relationships with teachers who know DCs so much better than when limited to lesson time. That in turn impacts on opportunities offered to DCs and an ease to ask for help when needed. Although a parent may know their DC best, boarding school staff have a lot of experience and their advice and encouragement adds a further dimension to what the parents and family give.
Really getting to know people that you might not choose to from superficial contact. At best that allows an appreciation of hidden qualities, at worst learning to compromise to live together without major irritation.
I think that a DC who enjoys being busy, purposeful and self-determined plus social gets a huge amount from boarding. Boarders do have to learn to give each other space when needed and carve out some privacy. Boarding works when the school and house staff make sure that kindness and tolerance prevails. It also needs an appreciation of rules for the common good but a certain liberalism especially for older DCs.
Also not forgetting the advantage of long holidays, lots of breaks and usually proper downtime when home.
I loved boarding school - adjusting every time I went back was tough (It was long-term boarding so I got home mid-term and end of term only) but I have only happy memories and great friends from that time (25 years ago). I have good relationships with my parents and siblings (who went to different schools) and I also still have friends from my hometown. I am sure I cried at times or complained but rarely once I was settled in, usually when it was time to pack or say goodbye.
DS2 has done 11+ years of full boarding, tonight as I type he's got five weeks and 1 day of boarding left (not including 1/2 term).
Firstly to pick up on some comments above:
"I came out at 18 without a close relatinship with my parents, my support network was my friends".
I have an incredibly close relationship with my DS, in fact he's just written to me saying how wonderful it is that we are so close and how he feels he could tell me anything and how he knows I'm there to support him.
"everyone rolling in money and wearing designer clothes"
I'd be the first to admit that many are rolling in money even if like DS2's school you have quite a few on bursaries and I'd also be the first to admit that when it comes to expensive designer label clothes I'm a bit clueless but DS2 assures me that at his school most are not clad in very expensive designer label clothes just the usual sort of stuff that the MC wear and most of the parents are a pretty scruffy bunch I always think, lots of expensive cars though. It doesn't bother me but it might bother some and I'm sure the wearing of designer label clothes varies from school to school.
"There will be ocassions when they might need you and you're not there"
On the couple of occasions when my DS needed me I was there within a couple of hours, no different from home really.
So these are my pros:
Endless opportunities to enable my DS to receive a wonderful broad intellectually stimulating education, there are 30+ concerts a term, at least 8+ plays a term, twice weekly lectures from eminent outside speakers on a huge of range of topics, all free for him to attend if he wishes, numerous sporting and non sporting societies probably 60+, a wonderful opportunity to do his own sport 3-4 times a week on his doorstep unlike at home where is a 70 mile round trip, at his school all the teachers (dons) live around the school so he can access help when he needs too, this also promotes an excellent relationship between the boys and dons, he works, plays, eats, sleeps with 59 other boys from a wide variety of countries some he likes, some he doesn't, some are untidy, some meticulous, some are irritating at times etc to board successfully he has learnt to make the best of it, to accept difference in all its shapes and forms, he has become exceedingly adept at reading situations and adapting accordingly (apparently he's a great house guest), he's learnt to be part of a team and that the world does not evolve around him, to shift for himself and to not be afraid of unfamiliar situation, I hear friends say I can't sleep in a strange bed or even more bizarrely use a strange loo, few boarders think like this. Hes learnt in a very busy life how to find and create privacy for himself, also to know when other are wanting privacy and when they're not, living so closely alongside others he knows it's not designer clothes or expensive cars or large houses that make you a decent individual. I personally think these are very important life skills. My DS has lots of freedom at school more so than at home because at home we have no public transport system and there no where locally to go so he has to rely on me to take him anywhere. Very strong friendships are formed. You don't have to walk far to find friends and activities you might be interested in but this can be a con during holidays because hes used to everything being on hand. You can't be a helicopter parent. You won't know what's going on all the time and you're having to entrust the care welfare and education of your DC to other, some could see this as a con. You'll love the first day of the holiday and start counting down the days to him coming home about two weeks in advance, the day before they break up you go around grinning like an idiot (could be a con your friends and neighbours might think your mad). There not eating you out of house and home 52 weeks of the year it's someone else has that problem.
Cons: it's bloody expensive! I miss him everyday. He misses us. Travelling back and forth to pick him up on exeats, holidays etc. No space. Little privacy. No friends close by in the holidays. School meals even if they're great it's still mass catering. Relationships between boarders and staff can be brilliant, the line between pupil and don is very blurred and this creates excellent relationships, but you could be unlucky with your house staff in particular, your DC or you might not get on with them or agree with them but these are key people in a boarders life. Boarding is exhausting, DS2 is absolutely exhausted now. When one gets a cold or D and V or whatever many others will come down with it. Your DC however organised will always loose things, socks being a big one. When they come home for holidays you'll suddenly find that you have 1/2 a ton of washing to do! You'll hate the last day of the holidays. You'll need to be flexible enough in your job/life to pick them up drop them off at awkward times.
I'm sure there loads more pros/cons but this us all I can currently think of. My DS and I have talked about it recently neither of us regret our decision to send him to a boarding school.
Good luck OP.
Thank you everyone it's going to be great I will miss him but he will have the best time ever !
Does he have to board or is it just something he wants to do?
Oh dear I fear school has done a real number on you.Just because your 13/.14 yo wants to do something, it doesn't mean it is a good thing for them to do!! I have heard so many parents of DC this age saying that it would be selfish and somehow holding their DC back if they don't let them board!
No, you have misgivings because it is the WRONG thing for a 13/14 yo child to be bringing themselves up which is what boarding schools is
Kitkat1968, that's not a helpful comment (and prejudiced drivel)
God not at all KitKat he has boarded one day a week since year 5 and loves it the school don't mind one way or the other. I know a lot of children who have gone to this school and I would say none of them feal they've bought themselves up and I think if I did say he couldn't go I would be being selfish anyway horses for course
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