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A boarding school experience could be the best opportunity for your child and for you.
Far from the austere image many adults may attach to it, modern boarding is well managed around the needs of the pupils, with home comforts and a variety of flexible arrangements like weekends at home, to maintain an all-important family connection that suits even younger children.
“Modern prep boarding schools offer a new blend of education and extended activities, whilst recognising the value of family time”
says Hilary Moriarty, National Director of the Boarding Schools Association. Weekly boarding with no Saturday lessons, or flexi boarding to help parents out with ad hoc days, are just two of the many ways in which prep boarding schools meet the unpredictable needs of family life in the 21st century.
Increasingly parents talk of how relationships with their children improve when daily battles are removed. Jane Gandee, Headmistress at St Swithun’s School just an hour from London agrees, “Both boarders and their parents speak persuasively of how they enjoy a better relationship because the vast majority of the nagging so necessary in bringing up children can take place around school issues.”
Learning to work independently
Doing homework and fitting in after school activities on the same day can become a logistical and emotional challenge for many London parents, especially when they have more than one child to help. “Parents are frequently worried about who will help their child do their prep as it’s such a struggle to get them to settle down at home where there are distractions. In fact they are often surprised at how their child’s prep improves,” says Barnaby Gray, Head of Boarding Highfield School. “Prep is supervised by teachers who know about the subject so if a child is struggling they can give support with any questions.”
Extending the day
Living at school also allows children to make the most of every day, cutting out commuting time to create precious extra minutes to reflect, relax or focus on a particular activity.
At Highfield and Bookham Schools in Hampshire, for example, children are free to run in 175 acres of safe, private grounds enjoying the fresh air and beautiful rolling countryside. There are woodlands to explore and build camps in, and trees to climb. “Few children get to enjoy such old fashioned freedom today especially in our towns and cities,” says Sarah Gray, Senior Girls’ Housemistress.
Sending children boarding young has its critics with some suggesting boarding under 13 should be avoided. However, Psychologist Dr Dirk Flower says there are several reasons why boarding younger is actually easier for the child.
“Between eight and 12 children are much more open to learning a new value system and adapt well to the supportive structure of academic tuition. At 13 children are at a stage of making a stand against authority and often look for ways to disrupt the system.”
Boarding isn’t the right choice for every child. Nor does it suit every parent. But for some families it provides the right balance between the demands of work and providing an enriching, intellectual experience for children.
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