Getting it right over boarding schools

Deciding if boarding is right for a child can be an overwhelming ­process.

The school options seem endless, and parents want ­reassurance their child will thrive away from home.

Editor of The Good Schools Guide, Aaron Matthews, said parents should first identify their child’s strengths and goals before considering boarding school.

“Whether your child will do well at boarding school ­depends largely on their individual ambitions and ­personality,” he said.

“Being away from their families allows your child to take greater personal responsibility for themselves. The ­immersive nature of boarding schools means that every ­moment is potentially a lesson and school life will teach and encourage children to manage their time, study and social lives.

“Boarding schools place great emphasis on personal ­development and play a large role in developing students’ world views.

“It is important to do thorough ­research. Find out if the school offers the sports, arts and extra-curricular activities your child is interested in. What do they have in terms of guidance counselling, study assistance, career education, and other student services to support their boarding school ­experience?”

According to Good Education Group, half of the 189 boarding schools in Australia are coeducational. Of the 50 per cent that are single gender, 30 per cent cater exclusively to girls and 20 per cent exclusively to boys.

While full-time boarding is the main offering at boarding schools, some also offer weekly boarding. Weekly boarding ­requires a child to return home on the weekends and provides a bridging option for parents who are trying to decide if boarding suits their child.

Full-time boarders return home during the holiday breaks. This is the best choice for families who live a great distance from their preferred school.

The majority of boarding schools in Australia are affiliated with a religious faith; ­however, this isn’t always a prerequisite for enrolment.

Mr Matthews said open days were one of the best ways to get a feel for what life at a boarding school can be like.

“Take your child along and talk to other parents, current students and as many teachers as possible to ensure you feel comfortable sending your child there,” he said. “Some children will respond well to the boarding school environment, while others will take some time to adapt or discover it is not right for them.”

Good Education Group provides independent education information and offers online school comparisons across every state.

For more information and to compare all boarding schools in Australia, visit www.goodschools.com.au.

 

This article originally appeared in The Weekly Times – How to decide if boarding is right for your child

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