>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.