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Is Boarding right for my Child?

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

Many boarding schools are renowned for offering a top quality education, but the advantages of boarding can go way beyond academia.

For children and families alike, a boarding school offers a safe and stable environment. Pupils have 24 hour wrap around care and the added benefit of having their peers by their side. Parents can feel confident that their children are in a supportive environment which is structured around helping each child to achieve their best with on hand support for things like homework time, regular bedtimes and healthy nutritious food.

The caring structure of a boarding house, overseen by house parents and support staff, is rooted in strong pastoral values. This environment enables the pupils to learn how to be independent, all be it with a strong safety net to support them, to grow in self confidence and to forge new friendships and work out how to thrive when away from home.

The extended boarding school day allows for plenty of time to enjoy an intensive academic programme and a full schedule of after-school activities. Whether a child’s interests lie in archery or yoga, debating or dancing there is bound to be a club or society that will cater to their interests, and if not, then the pupils will be encouraged to found one for themselves, learning about initiative and bringing an idea to fruition.

When we think of boarding we often think of the traditional concept of terms at school and holidays at home. However, there are several choices when it comes to boarding that make it accessible and suitable for different lifestyles.

Full Boarding

Pupils who are full boarders, will spend the majority of the school term living at the school; their boarding house becomes their home away from home in the school community.

The 24/7 experience is action packed, as pupils enjoy meals in the school dining areas, gather for communal school activities, head off for lessons together and then take part in multiple sporting or creative activities before returning ‘home’ for supervised work times and ‘mucking around’ with their fellow students.

Whether they are sharing a room or have their own bedsit, boarders have a space to make their own. Each boarding house will be overseen by a house parent and a team of pastoral and academic support staff, who keep a close eye on their charges to make sure they are happy and fulfilled.

Full boarders have plenty of time on the school campus to take full advantage of all the facilities and extra-curricular activities. But one of the key advantages that most pupils will claim is not just the healthy mix of studies and free time but the quality time they have to spend with their peer group forming strong bonds and life long friendships.

Parents are often concerned about how they will keep in touch with their children. Technology makes staying in contact very easy as children can now call, email, text and video call home regularly to keep their parents updated on everything!

Weekly boarding

This is an option that has become increasingly popular with both pupils and parents. It offers many of the advantages of full boarding in the week but with the advantage of family time at the weekends.

Depending on the school boarders will be collected on Friday night or Saturday morning and return to school on Sunday or Monday.

Flexi Boarding

This is a popular choice at some schools as pupils can opt to board on certain days of the week often to work around staying late for extra curricular activities.

This is also a great way to have a ‘taste’ of what it is like to be a boarder and whether this is something the child would enjoy on a more regular basis.

Occasional Boarding

This is a useful option for day pupils who are looking for flexibility around extra-curricular activities such as sports matches or even school social events. These nights can be pre-booked and treated as a one-off.

Occasional boarding will vary slightly depending on each school, but it’s certainly worth a conversation to find out whether it is available and which would work well for your child.

Whichever choice works best for your family circumstances, be assured that boarding schools are highly skilled at making sure every child gets settled in and feels at home. Some may run taster weekends so children can get familiar with the route and surroundings before they start with mentors and buddies there to guide them along the way.

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