Five Things You Didn't Know About Boarding/Residential Schools

Boarding/Residential schools are a subset of private schools which many people don't know much about. Here are five points to ponder as you research boarding schools.

1. There's a school which will fit your requirements.

With about 400-500 hundred boarding schools in India you have a pretty good chance of finding a school which will suit your requirements. Remember that your requirements are something which you determine together with your child. He/She needs to buy into the concept of going away to school. She needs to understand the benefits for her both in the short term and in the long term. His/Her instinctive reaction will be negative because all He/she will see is that she is going to be losing all her friends. And her family. And, in short, everything she knows and cares about. That's tough for a teenager to deal with.

But, if you plan your strategy carefully, and discuss the matter rather than dictate what will happen, you will quickly build consensus. After all, you only have to point out to her how you wanted her in the first place and have nurtured her emotionally and in every other way since birth. She has to trust your judgement and good sense when you put it to her that way.

Then discuss what she needs to build a happy and successful 3 or 4 years away at high school. (Most boarding schools will accept students in grade 9 though grade 10 is undoubtedly a more popular entry point.) Is she a rider? Musician? An athlete? It's pretty easy to find a boarding school which will have the programs and activities which she wants and needs.

2. The teachers will care about your child

The advantage that a teacher in boarding school has over her public school colleagues is that she is with your child 24/7. Well, not literally. But most boarding school teachers live on campus. There'll be one or more living in the same building with your child. As a result your daughter can get to know her teachers and, of course, they get to know her.

There is a genuine sense of community in a boarding school that simply is not possible to generate and maintain in a public day school. You also have to understand that your child cannot hide in a boarding school. So, if she has issues, they will come out. And as they surface, the school will have the resources and good sense to deal with them and counsel your daughter as necessary.

3. They are more affordable than you think

Boarding schools have financial aid programs. While these programs vary from school to school, the intention is put a boarding school education within reach of any child who has the academic ability to do the work. The important thing for you to understand is that if you need financial aid in order to send your daughter off to boarding school, all you need to do is to ask. There is the usual paperwork involved to prove that you need help. Boarding schools seek to attract children from every strata of society. Boarding schools are not just for rich kids any more.

4. You don't have to worry about your child

Supervision is part of the deal when you send your child off to boarding school. 24/7 supervision. Think of the school as a legal replacement for you. (The legal term is in loco parentis.) The campus will be secure. Entrances locked. Staff will be on the premises. She will be safe.

The other thing we parents worry about is our child's eating habits. The food at boarding schools is professionally cooked. It's often served family style as well with faculty and students sharing a communal meal.

Can she watch TV? Listen to her iPod? Talk on her cellphone? Sure. The only caveat is that she will not be allowed to do any of those things exclusively. She will have homework to do, extracurricular activities to attend, sports to participate in and much more. Her life at boarding school will be structured but not in any regimented way. Because everybody else will be doing the same things, your daughter won't feel like she has been singled out to do three hours of homework. Or two hours of field hockey. She and her classmates will be so involved that they won't feel overly scheduled. At least no more so than any teen does!

5. Your child will learn to love learning

This may or may not be high on her list of priorities. But for certain it is at the top of your list. The great thing about learning in a boarding school is that the teachers don't have to teach to a test. No Child Left Behind is not part of the boarding school academic scene. No matter what boarding school you choose, you can be assured that the teachers have been carefully selected not only for their strong education and academic work in their chosen field but also for their love of teaching teenagers. Teaching styles vary from school to school, so have a look at that aspect of each school as you make your visits. Most of the time you will like what you see and hear.

Another point to consider is that boarding schools offer academic coursework not usually found in public schools. The languages and arts offerings are not frills in private school. They are part of the mix which a school feels it must offer in order to develop your child's fullest potential.