Parental dilemmas for schooling: boarding school vs day school

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Young parents are faced with a very difficult choice: to keep their children at home with them or to send them to a good boarding school. They want the best for their children, no doubt, but what will / is good / best for their children is not very clear to most parents.

If a parent has studied at a boarding school themselves, the decision is that much easier. The most obvious reason parents give for not sending their children to boarding schools is that they will be leaving in search of their own careers and lives anyway. The most common reason given for sending to residential school is to instill a sense of discipline and the development of a well-rounded personality.

I would like to give a more nuanced view of life at the boarding school which can help parents in their decision to send / keep. Like anything else in life, sending your child to boarding school or keeping them with you has its pros and cons. You need to carefully consider what works best for you and your child. It takes a very serious and honest soul-searching.


Chance to pursue multiple interests BUT inability to specialize in any of them:
Students can pursue and indulge in multiple interests in boarding schools. You have sports, debates, theater, inter-house / inter-school competitions, hikes, community work are part of your life at a boarding school.

However, special infrastructure cannot be provided for a single student as parents can for their only child. If you are a highly motivated parent or have a child determined to pursue a goal, it is best to keep the child at home.

No specific treatment: Some children just need an investment of more time, effort and money to thrive. This can be for social, medical or emotional reasons. Boarding schools are not equipped to accommodate these children with special needs. If your child is a demanding customer or if you think your child needs special care, then hostel life is not for them.

Otherwise, most children become more sensitive to life and feelings in community. Most success these days comes from people who can live and work with others. Residents are more sensitive to change.


School / studies / social life balance for children and parents:
A day student has the same boring

routine of getting up early, school, home, lunch, extra class, homework, TV, etc. Sometimes it becomes very difficult for the children as we have guests at home or have social commitments to attend

weddings, ceremonies, parties, hospitalizations, deaths, etc. Most parents and children find it difficult to reconcile the demands of good parenting and their own social life. Boarding schools allow children to be themselves. However, they do not see the full spectrum of life, such as the death of a parent or grandparent.


Children can be innocent / cruel:
The young boarders are innocent and without malice. They are quite inclined to say things as they see them and understand them. They may say things that are not politically correct and, in some cases, hurtful enough to fellow boarders. This can sometimes have a negative impact on children. For example, they can comment on race / gender / color / economic status without any meanness but with complete but unacceptable frankness.

Boarding schools offer some benefits that day schools cannot.


Limited exposure to TV / gadgets:
Almost all boarding schools have strict guidelines for watching TV and using mobiles / gadgets. Residents are expected to drop off their cell phones with house parents at the start of the quarter. Use is regulated to call parents at set times. Any parent / adult today will testify to the negative implications of excessive media surveillance and cell phone use among day school students. Schools that are both boarding and day schools suffer a double whammy and cannot enforce boarding school discipline or guarantee the freedom enjoyed by a day school.


Escape Difficult Homes:
Unfortunately, not all homes provide a safe environment for a child to grow up, whether it’s in terms of quality time spent with parents, screen addiction, or not-so-ideal marriage. Although parents don’t get along well, they want the best for their child and don’t want their personal issues interfering in their children’s lives. Boarding schools provide a great opportunity for children to put this difficult aspect of their life behind them. When the time comes, they will have to face this, but why put them to difficult questions so early in their life.

Development of teamwork and soft-skills: Peer learning is one of the most salient features of boarding school life. Whether it’s trying to figure out school, social, or just growing up, the naive yet intense interaction between your fellow housemates is simply irreplaceable. This internship life necessarily requires teamwork on the part of the students. You can be good at math but terrible at waking up in the

Morning. Another may like to drink milk but hate eggs. Such exchanges are common in boarding schools and teach children wonderful life skills. Inter-house competitions are a source of joy and pride and the whole house is actively involved to ensure their success. Second, schools have children of

various parts of the country / other nations. This intercultural exchange is invaluable

Diet: Mess stories are an important part of a resident’s life as they grow up. Boarding schools keep their students busy all day with studies, sports, drama, debates, etc. Thus, young children who grow up eat without too much noise whatever is served to them. Appreciation of various types of food and a non-judgmental attitude towards food make residents very understanding adults.


Live pollution-free:
Today, most Indian cities face severe water, noise and air pollution. The detrimental effects of pollution can be seen in worsened disease levels, irritation, mental illness and an increased propensity for violence. Boarding school life protects children from the pollution to which most schoolchildren are exposed.


Lifetime bonds:
A child in boarding school grows up with other pupils of the same age and from the same background. As one lives and grows with other students, he / she forms lasting bonds, friendships and memories. So you would see that residential school classmates meet more often, have more meaningful meetings. The boarding schools have a very strong Alumni network. It helps later in life while looking for a job, business, or just social opportunities.

Written by
Pankaj Sudan

President and Founder of Change Makers Society


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