BOARDING SCHOOL: Part-Time Parenting?

>Recently I ran into a friend and former colleague, whom I haven’t seen in many years. We briefly chatted about our careers and our families. He mentioned that his job required him to travel so his children attended boarding school. All of his comments about boarding school were positive. For some reason, the one comment that stood out in my mind was that, “it really helped with the homework thing.”

His comment really got me to thinking about boarding school. Could I send my son to a boarding school? Would he receive a better education there? What else would my son learn? I certainly understand what he said about homework. Any responsible parent, who lived through the arduous experience of helping their child with homework, will tell you it can be exhaustive, challenging, and a real test of your patience.

A part of me believes that sending my son off to boarding school would be “passing the buck” on my parental obligations.

What about sports and other extra curricula activities? Yes; some boarding schools have strong athletic programs, but what about being there to show my support for him. I’d miss out on the cherished memories of continuing to watch him grow as an athlete, as a young adult or miss his performance on the debate team. Sure, I’d attend some games and other school activities, but I would certainly miss more than I could attend.

As a parent, how can I be certain that my son is being treated equitably? Yeah, I would miss a great deal of treasured moments with him. Most of all, he would miss the positive influences of his dad; which cannot be replaced by any academic program.

The life and personality of a teenager evolves slowly. If my son attended boarding school, both of us would miss out on all the life learning opportunities that take place everyday at home.   Of course, I know first hand experience that raising a teenager is one of the most challenging experiences of parenthood.

I can be honest and say that having my teenager away at school during some of the most tumultuous year’s sounds appealing. After all, the staff would have the responsibility of making sure he made it to class on time, that he had adequate study time. The staff would have the heated and ugly debates on why he has a curfew, and making certain that he went to bed at a reasonable time- All I would have to do is call him daily, pay the tuition, and be a loving & dutiful full-time parent on the weekends, holidays, and breaks. Some parents wouldn’t dare speak these words, fear of being perceived as a bad parent, but it’s just a thought and I’m certain that someone out there shares this sentiment with me.

The Art & Science Group, a marketing research & consulting firm based in Baltimore conducted a comparative study for The Association of Boarding Schools (TAB). This “contemporary study of secondary school education” reported that 91% of boarding school students found their school was academically challenged; compared to 70% private & 50% public school students. The study also reported that boarding school students spent more time doing homework felt more academically prepared for college, felt more prepared for “non academic life,” and earned more advanced degrees than private and public school students. I wondered about the quality of relationships that boarding school students have with their parents and siblings; the study generally reported that 86% of boarding school students reported being very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their family life. It did not give any in depth details about relationships with  parents or siblings. To read the complete report, I contacted the marketing firm who conducted the study and was told that the research data was proprietary information; TAB would have to approve release of the information. If TAB is genuinely concerned about educating the public about boarding schools, they should publish complete reports and not partially edited data that could mislead readers.

Did the study change my mind about boarding school? No. It did however; interest me enough to want to further learn more on the topic. As a parent, I firmly believe that I should be well rounded and well informed. Being open minded enough to educate myself on unfamiliar topics related to parenthood is important to me and to the overall well being of my family. Will my son attend boarding school? Probably not, but ask me again in seven years.


4 thoughts on “BOARDING SCHOOL: Part-Time Parenting?

  1. >Of course my "children" are no longer children, but I would have never considered boarding school for either of them. As an African-American male, your son's experience at boarding school would be much different from his peers' experiences. We have many more things to consider, concerning school for our children. As you know, my daughter is a senior at a prep school and I think it was very important for her to come home to her family every day after dealing with racist bull crap. If it didn't take so long, I would give examples. I didn't teach my children hate, but unfortunately, they have had to go to school with children who were well-trained in hatred. When your child is faced with that in high school, a phone call won't do.

  2. >Thanks for taking the time to read my blogg and for sharing your perspective on the subject. When I wrote this, I didn't consider the racisim issue and how it plays an unwanted role in the lives of our children. I couldn't agree with you more; a phone would not do. From raising my daughter, I know how often our kids will say that they're okay; when their body language and demeanor says other– this cannot be detected over the phone. Our children need daily energizing and nurturing from their parents.Oh! I loved reading a male's perspective as well. PLEASE come back and visit again. Thanks again for sharing!

  3. >I thought your article on boarding school was very interesting. I would send my daughter to a barding school that would see her potential and would help her grow. After looking through the links, I found an all girl school in Pottersville, NJ called Purnell. Since my daughter is an only child, I felt this would be a good opportunity for her to be with girls that want to succeed and willing to work hard for their success. What caught my eye was the mission statement at Purnell. This is what is said, “Purnell School's mission is to educate young women in grades nine through twelve whose potential has not previously been realized and to prepare them for college. Students learn to be ethical, independent, self-confident young women with a greater appreciation of the world around them. They understand how to be successful in a creative, supportive, and reflective environment that encompasses not only their lives in the classroom, but also their pride as participants in a vibrant residential community. Dedicated faculty act as mentors who understand how all types of minds learn. They teach and model the School's three founding guidelines: Consideration of other, Truthfulness in all relations, and Use of common sense" I believe that my daughter would be very successful in this kind of environment and I would support boarding school only if it’s a good fit. I feel that being a part-time parent is okay when you are giving your child or children more then they could get in their current environment.

  4. >Yet again, another interesting perspective. Children are different and what works for one, may not necessarily work for another. We certainly see this in raising children. They are motivated by different things. There is no cookie cutter approach that works for all. Had you thought about boarding school before? You're doing your research now, which I think is great because when the time comes for you to decide, you will be well informed on the topic. It would also be interesting to find out how your daughter would feel about attending boarding school.

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