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Pros and cons of boarding vs day?

(105 Posts)
minipie Tue 21-Jun-16 12:59:44

DDs are only 3 and 1 so a bit daft to be thinking about secondary, but we are thinking about primary/prep schools (private) for them and some are more boarding focused whereas others are more day school focused. So it would be helpful to have an idea which is likely to be our preference. DH boarded, I didn't, we both enjoyed our experience. We can afford either.

So far I can think of the following pros and cons of boarding vs day - but am aware some of these may be misapprehensions. Also some may be"fixed" if we did weekly boarding?:


- Saves the commute. We are London based and any secondary will involve at least 45 mins each way. So less tiring (DD gets tired easily) and allows more time for homework, extra curricular etc

- More choice. There aren't many day schools near us, DDs may not get in to the super selective ones, the ones they get into may not fit well etc. This is a biggie.

- Less arguing/nagging over homework and revision (I hope?)


- Less visibility of what your child is doing - eg if they are unhappy in some way or not doing their work properly you might not know if the school doesn't pick it up. I would struggle with this I think

- Less chance to have out of school friends/activities, which I think can be helpful in times of school friendship difficulties

- Perhaps less close to your child in the end? (controversial!) less influence over how they grow up? (equally controversial!)

- Perhaps a more traditional ethos which we wouldn't fit with (we are not religious, I am a WOHM and feminist, we don't follow many traditions) but guess this depends on the particular school

Can anyone add to this list or disagree with any of my list...?

minipie Tue 21-Jun-16 13:00:41

Oh yes and from a purely selfish point of view:

Pro: Boarding solves a lot of childcare headaches and gives DH and I more time to ourselves, but Con: we'd miss them!

BertrandRussell Tue 21-Jun-16 13:03:02

Cons- your child is growing up away from her family.
Pros- there are no pros.

sleepwhenidie Tue 21-Jun-16 13:06:05

Good luck with this thread OP, I'm not adding my comments to others BUT DD gets tired easily .... This had me checking back on her age -3??! confused and you assume this will be the same when she is 11confused.

minipie Tue 21-Jun-16 13:07:23

sleep she has a medical condition (which she will still have at age 11) which makes her tired easily - should have said that

Bertrand - thanks for your helpful advice hmm

FinallyHere Tue 21-Jun-16 13:09:13

For me, getting a bit of distance from my parents allowed me to see them as people, rather than just my parents. Our relationship improved enormously. That might have been because i rebelled against school, rather than against them. Or that when i was at home it was always the holidays and they were a tiny bit less strict. But mostly because I could see that their 'rules' were, after all not just to make my life difficult. Learning the difference between parents who love you and want what is best for you, and people who are essentially paid to look after you, was very useful to me, too.

That is an argument in favour of boarding, but not really until the teenage years. Not, bless them, at four years old.

minipie Tue 21-Jun-16 13:10:57

Oh absolutely Finally I am only considering boarding at senior school age!

Not at 4 of course!!! (is that even possible?)

Thanks for your input

WordGetsAround Tue 21-Jun-16 13:11:55

I think a lot of cons are borne by the child and a lot of pros benefit the parents.

minipie Tue 21-Jun-16 13:11:59

I am talking about the leavers' destinations of the primary schools we are looking at. Some send mainly to day at 11+, others to boarding at 11 or 13.

Sorry my OP wasn't very clearly worded was it.

tralaaa Tue 21-Jun-16 13:12:24

Judge nearer the time but I would want my children home each night

minipie Tue 21-Jun-16 13:12:53

Word what are the cons and pros you are thinking of please?

Gruach Tue 21-Jun-16 13:16:44

Oh OP ...

There are a million threads.

How have you managed not to see them?

Anyway ... It's good of you to give people something to do for the next few days.

(Gin and bandages MNHQ ...)

PrimalLass Tue 21-Jun-16 13:29:25

The con is not having your children with you - they live somewhere else.

I could not see any pros in that at all.

schbittery Tue 21-Jun-16 13:34:34

it all seems very pro for the parents con for the kids to me. Secondary day schools are so busy they will be there from 7.30 - 18.00 much of the time plus sports all day Saturday in many cases - is that really not enough time away from your children?

minipie Tue 21-Jun-16 13:37:16

Gruach fair point, I didn't do a search before posting. <slaps wrist> Off to have a look now.

Hopefully there will be some more helpful posts on those.

Although from a quick search it looks like they are equally unhelpful similar to this thread.


minipie Tue 21-Jun-16 13:39:17

To answer all the "no pros at all for the DC" posts:

There are loads of kids who appear to really enjoy boarding school - and as adults say it was a great choice. My DH is one of them.

Are they all wrong? confused

I am undecided, hence this post. I don't really see how people can be so sure it's terrible for the kids when they haven't had the experience themselves.

schbittery Tue 21-Jun-16 13:42:16

I was at a boarding school for a short time. It was not good for the children almost universally. They felt rejected and left out of their parents lives and acted up in retaliation (drugs, sex, pregnancy, suicide attempts). May all be different now I guess.

Desmondo2016 Tue 21-Jun-16 13:43:12

I think posters can only give their personal opinions. No-one is being deliberately nasty. I'm afraid I'm with the others though. I can't comprehend wanting to send my children away to school and not being there number one carer. I only know one person who boarded and he still resents his mother now, 4 decades later. I suppose of your kids got to 9/10 and seemed keen on the idea then it could be explored, and I appreciate decision have to be made early but really.. this early? Who knows where you'll be in 8 years. Id say live life and cherish every second and see where the path takes you over the coming years.


PrimalLass Tue 21-Jun-16 13:44:22

How is it unhelpful? You'll be judged in real life too, so surely it is helpful to know that in advance.

Desmondo2016 Tue 21-Jun-16 13:44:38

*their (I did go to school lol)

schbittery Tue 21-Jun-16 13:47:14

Why would you be thinking about it now when you have a baby and a toddler - you don't even know what they or their personalities will be like yet and whether they would be likely to enjoy or hate it. You have no experience yet of 11 year olds (presumably) and yet are thinking about it now becasue your DH went there and some other people tell you their kids enjoyed it. Where is the individual approach for your particular children - who may or may not want to go when the time comes.

sleepwhenidie Tue 21-Jun-16 13:48:17

minipie I think many people have a visceral reaction against the idea of boarding school. It goes against all of their instincts that tell them that they are the best people to raise their children, that they want to be involved in their daily lives until the DC's are of an age where they can live independently. These feelings mean that those that are pro/sanguine about boarding are seen by the aforementioned people as being somewhere on a scale of parenting from cold/unfeeling to deliberately and selfishly handing over responsibility for the upbringing of their DC's to an institution - (either way, it is viewed as pretty crap parenting). So prepare yourself for that.

Personally I don't have the same visceral reaction to the idea but I think there are only a limited set of circumstances in which I would 'get' why you would choose boarding, such as both parents being routinely absent due to work commitments in the evenings so that DC's wouldn't see them anyway (in which case weekly boarding might be a reasonable choice), or frequent home movement between geographical locations, or physical/MH issues that the DC's would be negatively affected by being at home (I have in mind a friend of DS1's who lives with is elderly and infirm DGM, whose DM and DF are absent from his life). A 45 minute commute to and from school wouldn't get near to persuading me to choose boarding.

Londonmamabychance Tue 21-Jun-16 13:49:24

OP, it's a controversial subject. I think it depends a lot on how you are as a family, and what values you want for your children, how you want them to grow up.

I will say though, based on having been a day student at a boarding school and my own dad and grandmother being sent away to boarding school at respectively aged 11 and 7 (! this was in the late 1920'es though, so very different times) that sending them to board before 13 seems to early for the child's developmental stage, unless there are special circumstances like the parents being unfit to parent or being posted in dangerous locations etc. My grandmother suffered lifelong detachment from her parents and struggles to express love and form close relationships, and lo and behold send her own son away to boarding school at 11, which he hated. He missed home terribly, and I can tell it has impacted his emotional development negatively. He is very reserved and in some ways strict. He did, however, love boarding once he became a teenager, because of the freedom and opportunities to be independent and hang out with friends all the time. And that is the same I saw in the boarding school where I was a day student - that after around 14 - 15, it's a great option for many teenagers, provided that they are thriving in the school. Because the thing is that boarding school is fantastic if you're on top of the hierarchy and hell on earth if you're at the bottom. Because it's 24/7. So it can be a risky choice, so if you make it, be prepared to keep a close eye on how your children are getting on and be prepared to make changes if they're not thriving.

In terms of values I'd say boarding school is great for building friendships and if you want to/can afford a fancy one, building contacts and that much criticised old boys/girls network that will help you all your life. This is if that's what you want for your children. It can also be great in building independence and teach the values of the particular school.

Having your children at home with you gives you the option as a parent to influence them and keep looking after them, and for me personally, this is definitely the option I will choose. If my DD at some point herself expresses interest in going boarding once she's a teenager, for the experience, I'd be more than happy to accommodate her, but I would want to initiative to come from her.

Gruach Tue 21-Jun-16 13:50:40

Of course all the people who speak positively are not wrong!

But it seems pointless to convene a bloodbath when you have absolutely no current need for answers. Even the few helpful and knowledgeable replies (and I'm sorry but I just can't be bothered) will be irrelevant by the time you might actually want to start looking properly.

tootsietoo Tue 21-Jun-16 13:51:24

You cannot possibly know now what would be right for your 3 and 1 year old when they're 11. I think there is barely any point thinking about it - pick the right primary that suits the children now, then start considering secondaries when they're in year 5.

And I'm another one who says - why on earth would you want strangers to have 24/7 care of your children?

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