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Before continuing with our adventures on the boarding school trail, I want to share my experiences over the past two weekends. These examples for me put in stark contrast the reality of the boarding school experience and a common perception of boarding schools.
The first weekend we spent at our son’s school for Parents’ Weekend. Despite the relatively large size of the school, we continue to be amazed by the personal touch we encountered from faculty and administrators. Our son remarked that he has never been happier in school, he is continually being pushed outside his academic comfort level, and he loves his extracurricular activities. The other children we met were also enthusiastic about their experience. One girl said, “This is the first time I’ve felt like I fit in school.” There were many parents there who seemed to share a close bond with their children. Clearly it is a school filled with bright, athletic, well-adjusted kids.
Last weekend I attended my twenty-fifth college reunion. My roommate, who remains a dear friend, has a daughter in eighth grade who is, according to her mother, the brightest child in her kindergarten through twelfth grade country day school in the mid-Atlantic and a gifted vocalist and athlete. She wants to put her in another day school where she will be more academically challenged, but there isn’t another school conveniently located. Naturally I suggested boarding school, to which my friend responded, “I love my child. I wouldn’t send her away.” My response was, of course, “My children have the opportunity to attend boarding school and get the best education because I love them.” It clearly made some of my other old friends uncomfortable that I had chosen to “send my children away” too.
Another friend who lives in a prosperous suburb told me she has been getting the same response in her community. Clearly people either don’t understand what boarding school is, or they feel as if we’re suggesting that the local schools where they send their children aren’t good enough. When the reality is that we simply don’t feel that the local school is the best place for our child. We’re not passing judgment on their decision.
My feeling is that individual parents know the right course for their own children. If you are considering boarding school, please visit some schools and talk to the kids there before allowing yourself to be swayed by public opinion.
To maintain privacy and confidentiality, our author writes under the pen name “Boarding School Mom” and all family, child consultant, and school names will be changed or omitted. You can reach AQ’s Boarding School Mom at firstname.lastname@example.org.