Boarding: does it help or hinder your child’s development?

UK boarding schools provide some of the best education opportunities in the world. Simply Learning Tuition’s Nathaniel McCullagh discusses how they can aid children’s academic and emotional development.

Boarding: does it help or hinder your child’s development?
Nathaniel McCullagh of Simply Learning Tuition offers some advice to parents considering boarding school options for their child.British boarding schools are renowned for developing academic rigour and good character. They offer unsurpassed sporting, artistic and cultural opportunities all under one roof, providing busy parents with a reassuring stable environment for their child. They come in a variety of flavours, from the academic elite of Eton, to schools that provide more specialist care for disaffected children who are, for whatever reason not thriving at home. 

Adapting to life in boarding school

There can be some downsides to boarding, however. These include higher fees and separation from your child for most of the academic year. Some children can become institutionalised, missing out on being part of a local community.Of course, each of these reasons is subjective and can be flipped; for some families, boarding may be cheaper and may represent an opportunity to provide a safe, emotional constant that is missing from home.Perhaps one of the best ways to see if boarding will work is to try it. Many schools offer taster weekends. When you have drawn up a shortlist, you then need to ask some difficult questions such as: does the school’s ethos resonate with yours? Can you see your child fitting in?
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The benefits of weekly boarding

If you still aren’t sure, how about trying weekly boarding? An increasing number of our clients opt for a country school – an hour’s drive or so from Knightsbridge.These have more relaxed entry requirements – not because they are any less academic, but because there is less pressure for the number of places. In many, you can choose how many nights a week your child will stay, and how often they will take the shuttle bus back to London.

Overseas families

Every boarding school has a different approach to international students. Some integrate them fully, others tend to segment them. For this reason, we believe it is essential that parents always visit the school and see for themselves how their son or daughter will be taught, where they will live and who they will work, rest and play with – most schools will provide translators if necessary.A good fit is the most significant factor in a child’s academic and emotional wellbeing. If you choose to use an education consultant or agent, you should ensure that you ask meaningful questions.Finally, I think that it is important to remember that boarding school is only part of your son or daughter’s life. It is not there to entirely replace home life or parental values. The most successful academic and pastoral outcomes still require parents to take an active part in their child’s life and to make sure that holidays are relaxing, enriching and heavily family-oriented.Simply Learning Tuition is an independent education company offering specialist advice throughout a child’s academic journey, from school selection through to university applications and mentoring. You can contact them here.
Find out more about boarding school options in the Winter issue of our magazine which features a boarding school supplement.
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