When you’re considering different educational options for your child, the idea of sending them to a boarding school as opposed to a day school can be equal parts exciting and overwhelming.
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Exciting, because it’s an opportunity for your child to grow and develop independently, access a range of extracurricular activities plus enjoy new experiences – and overwhelming, because this decision potentially opens up your geographical options to include schools from all over the country. The pressure to find the right cultural fit also increases, as your child will be spending more time there during their key formative years than at home.
There are a number of factors that influence a parent’s decision to consider boarding.
Here are three key situations where boarding at school could be a great fit for your child and family:
1. When you live remotely or outside Australia and want to ensure that your child has a stable and well-rounded educational experience
There are many exceptional schools with high quality teachers located all over Australia that offer a varied educational experience filled with extracurricular activities, such as sport, art, music or sciences that align closely with an individual child’s skills and interests.
For some families though, these schools aren’t readily accessible. Traveling long distances to and from school every day is disruptive for both the student and the family. If your family is in a situation similar to this, having your child board at school will solve any issues or barriers of distance while ensuring they receive the type of education that you feel is the best fit.
This was the case for Kirsty Rice, an Australian ex-pat and mother-of-four living in Qatar. She and her husband made the decision to send their eldest daughter, Lizzie, to boarding school in Australia because they wanted to give her the opportunity to experience school in Australia, build up her local knowledge and establish a strong friendship base before going to university.
Boarding can also work in the reverse by giving urban families access to the benefits of a ‘small town’ upbringing as seen with Blackheath and Thornburgh College in Charters Towers Queensland who list ‘country values’ as one of the common reasons families choose to board there. The Hutchins School, St Michael’s Collegiate and Fahan School in Hobart attract boarders from mainland Australia interested in the many outdoor activities that the spectacular natural environment of Tasmania allows for.
2. When you need greater flexibility and convenience for your family
The standard school day and the standard working day don’t quite meet: one ends several hours before the other, creating a challenging time management issue for busy working parents.
Day boarding schools offer a suitable solution to this problem. A day boarding schedule means children return to their homes later in the evening to spend quality time with their family, making this a convenient educational option for urban families.
Families can send their daughters to Stuartholme School (QLD) via a day boarding program which is convenient for parents who work long hours as they can either send their child earlier in the morning or collect them later in the evening after they’ve completed an afternoon of sports or supervised study, with the option of including breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner in the child’s program.
Weekly boarding offers the convenience of Monday to Friday boarding, with the benefits of family time at home on the weekend. Many Canberra families take advantage of the weekly boarding program at Snowy Mountains Grammar where they can return home each Friday and come back to school on Sunday afternoon, giving them the best of both worlds.
Elizabeth Heath from Snowy Mountains Grammar says
“Weekly boarders learn independence and life skills and benefit from the additional academic focus a boarding environment offers. They have access to academic resources and teachers outside of normal school hours and structured study times to support academic growth.”
Full time boarding is perfect for when family or work circumstances make full time care of your child difficult and you don’t want to disrupt their school life. Those working shift work, freelancers, or moving frequently in defence force roles have their minds put at ease knowing their children are being well looked after.
Depending on your situation, either day, weekly or full-time boarding scenarios may make the most sense for your family. It’s a personal decision that ultimately boils down to finding the right educational fit for you and your child.
3. When you want to foster your child’s independence and personal growth
Of course this can be achieved in a number of ways in a variety of contexts; however, there is evidence that being a boarder is one of the best ways to increase a student’s independence and self-reliance. This is true for a number of reasons, one of which is that boarding gives students many opportunities to learn to manage themselves and their educational responsibilities without parental assistance.
Given the nature of the boarding experience, students also have the chance to develop their interpersonal relationships with both their peers and teachers in a sustained and meaningful way. Research indicates that these interactions can be deeper and more personal than those of students who attend day school only. Boarding allows a student time to adapt to life outside the family nest (under the watchful eye of teachers and mentors) before they make the transition to university life.
Whilst boarding is undoubtedly not for every child or family, there are a number of options and circumstances in which it can be the perfect fit.