You and your spouse have decided that you want to take the big step of sending your son or daughter away to boarding school. Although the separation anxiety will be difficult and the added costs may force you to cut back on other things, the decision is a great one.
Boarding schools offer a unique set of academic benefits to young people including a controlled and superior education environment and an ability to have your child focus on specific subjects like performing arts, curriculums that will nearly guarantee your child a place at a top university.
Now, you only need to find one that fits your needs and will deliver all of the benefits you require for your child. Here is a list of important areas to cover when considering a boarding school:
Location of the School
This is a very important consideration that deserves some serious thought. Schools that are closer offer benefits including being able to get to your child quickly in the event of an emergency and also to attend special events at the school regularly.
Many parents decide to send their kids to schools far away from their homes and in some cases to other countries to a boarding school. There may not be an issue with this, but if this is your plan, you need to make sure that your child can function optimally in that environment. For this reason, there are a few questions to answer honestly:
- Is your child conversant in the language of the country in which the school is located? This means that he or she is able to communicate from an academic perspective as well as conversationally. This is important for your child to learn effectively, make friends, and in case your child gets in danger or is hurt. Many schools will only take students that can communicate in the native language and will also employ aids to assist those students from a country that sends lots of their students to that school. But you need to make sure there is an adequate support system in place at the school if it is in a different country where a different language is spoken.
- Can your child fit easily into the culture of the country where the school is located? Many countries have different cultural norms and making a transition can be difficult for some young people. With their need to focus on their schooling, this can be an added burden that might compromise their grades. Parents need to go to the host country and spend time there with their child in advance, to insure that this is not an issue.
The School’s Character and Values
Every boarding school will have a distinct character and set of values that it espouses. You may think you fully understand what these are when reading their promotional materials or reviewing their website, but you need to see them in action as well. This means spending some time at the school during Open Days and talking with administrative staff and other parents about how the school operates, what things they believe are most important about your child’s education, rules and regulations within the school, and their approach to goal setting for the students. Do not be shy to ask probing questions and pay attention to whether answers are consistent. You want a coherent strategy that will lead to your child receiving a great education and a safe and supportive living environment.
Speak with Parents Students and Alumni
Have conversations with parents of current students and ask if they are satisfied with the school. Would they recommend it? What are its outstanding features? Anything they wish was practiced at the school and isn’t? Do they regret sending their kids to the school? Compare it to other schools you have on your list and ask if any of the parents have opinions about those schools.
Perhaps the best way to judge the success of a school is by its students. This means the current students and the past graduates. When you see students at the school, pay attention to their dress and their behavior. They are representative of how your child will act, so you should love what you see when you look at the other students.
In terms of alumni, schools are happy to provide information and even contact to graduates of the school that have excelled. Feel free to ask for this information as well as to speak with one or two alumni about their experience at the school and how helpful the school has been since they left.
The school’s academic curriculum should provide your child a well-rounded top-tier education. This means a broad range of topics that will score well with universities of the type you seek for your child to attend. Even if your child is focusing on a specific type of major at the boarding school, the other areas of education should be at the highest standards.
Diverse Student Body
In life, you child will come in contact with people from all races and ethnicities. He or she needs to interact with every type of person at the school so she can learn about the cultural differences when young. The school should tout this as a strong point and if not, you should certainly ask when you visit.
Be vigilant and thorough and you will find the right boarding school for your child.