Cover story and three page article, written to promote boarding at Bromsgrove International School Thailand for Big Chilli Magazine –
Is Boarding Right for Your Child?
At Bromsgrove International School Thailand, they are putting the myths to bed
Myth #1: You are handing your child over to someone else, they won’t need you anymore. Many parents worry that enrolling their child in boarding means packing them up and shipping them off to the care of someone else. They think they will have to surrender their input and influence, handing them over to strangers who will take full control of the parental voice in their child’s life. Their biggest fear is that their child will not need them anymore.
This could not be further from the truth. Many parents of boarding students quickly realize that by handing over the nagging, discipline, and daily behavior management to someone else, children are more likely to approach their parents with difficult decisions, confiding in them as a friend and role model, often seeking their parent’s opinions and advice. These children call their parents voluntarily; for a chat about their day, to update them on their achievements, or sometimes just to share the latest gossip from their social circle. Children begin to recognize the separation of their parents as people, people with similar stories to share and achievements to celebrate. Mutual respect often develops and parents actually have more direct input and influence in their child’s life, as a rock of support and guidance.
This is the kind of positive conversation that is often missed by parents who have to juggle careers with the daily slog of disciplining their child, ferrying them to and from school, supervising homework and picking up their dirty socks. Day students are driven to and from school, spend their evenings, weekends and holidays studying, with friends, or at sports events. Boarding students have their study time and sports events covered at school. Your child would come home for the holidays or weekends and actually want to spend time with you, while their friends go home to see their own families.
Myth #2: Boarding is just a never-ending slumber party or military boot camp. While some parents assume that boarding will be all social activities and no education other parents worry it will be like a military boot camp with all structure and no fun, and while there is benefit in both, the reality is actually somewhere in between.
While parents of day students get bogged down in dirty socks, homework and taxi duties for their child, your child could have someone else dealing with this minutiae of daily life, leaving you to pick up where the staff leave off to develop a different kind of bond with your child, a bond that usually forms later in life when children have left home and enjoy quality time with their parents.
This ‘minutiae’ that parents often struggle to maintain, alongside running a family household and juggling careers, is the stuff boarding schools dream of – the structural foundation of routine, which negates the arguments around curfews and bedtimes that all parents face. Children complete their homework during the evening at compulsory study sessions, which are supervised by resident tutors in some schools (tutors who live on campus and are on-hand to personally assist your child’s education).
Regular activities and social time, as well as trips out at weekends, mean that your child could experience a healthy balance of work and play that adults are expected to manage themselves later on. Staff are always within reach to play games with, talk to, or simply offer an adult presence in your child’s life, they are trained and experienced in the multi-faceted aspects of their role – as a friend, teacher, social facilitator, disciplinarian and guardian.
The varying ages of students, and roles of extra responsibility in boarding prefects, means that children support one another, developing healthy social skills, and learning from each other. They often come from a spectrum of countries, encouraging positive and equal attitudes towards others, while fostering compassion and empathy as they all go through the same experience. As your child becomes a global citizen and travels around the world they may end up with several homes away from home through the international friends they made in boarding.
Myth #3: Attending college will be anti-climactic to a boarding student. Parents sometimes worry that the benefits of boarding are similar to those at college, such as shared dorm rooms, independence and social time. There is a common concern that the boarding experience may lessen the appeal of their child attending further education, but the reality is quite the opposite.
Boarding schools give students an advantage over day students in preparing your child for college. It is no coincidence that boarding students are more likely to have the confidence to attend a college straight from school, and even overseas, where the education is globally recognized. This is because boarding nurtures independence and time management, giving your child the ability to embrace the unsupervised lifestyle with maturity and cope with the pressures of a college workload.
While the novelty of attending college may not be as extreme as it would be for a day student, the boarding student will enjoy supporting their peers and excelling in their education due to the boarding experience that has prepared them for adulthood. They will still be excited to truly live independently, but the novelty will be found in more important aspects, such as cooking for themselves, managing their finances, and committing themselves to studies that are motivated by their passions, not in the burst of mayhem that many other teens experience when moving away from home.