In India, many parents are faced with the boarding school enigma. Should we or shouldn't we send our children away from us? Clearly, boarding schools present a more varied set of challenges when it comes to teen development, both for parents and children. Often, parents that relocate to different places due to work opt for boarding schools to remove discontinuities in their child's education. It can be emotionally unsettling for teens to repeatedly leave their friends and familiar surroundings behind. Thus, boarding school provides a greater level of stability in terms of the overall educational and social environment for the teen.
Moreover, boarding schools offer ample extra-curricular activities that allow teens to better explore their interests and potential. Many people who went to non-residential schools lament the fact that their teachers did not know them well enough to contribute more effectively to their overall development.
However, parents that send their teens to boarding schools have fewer day-to-day interactions and significantly less time to spend with their teens during their formative years. As a result, many parents complain that they could not fully and effectively contribute to the teen's development due to time and proximity constraints. On the other hand, teachers in boarding schools complain that they do not get enough support from parents who tend to rely excessively on the school. Above all, many boarding school alumni have one predominant complaint - homesickness.
The boarding school decision clearly must account for a large number of factors. The particular teen's personality, emotional needs, the quality and environment of the boarding school being considered, the type of the school (co-ed or single-sex), the distance, the parents' commitment to staying in touch with the child are some of the concerns that need to be accounted for in the decision. The ultimate decision will clearly be based on the individual analysis of the family given their own unique needs and circumstances. It must be noted that the boarding school decision is not a zero sum game. Parents must be forthright enough to pull their teen out of boarding schools if they realize that it is not working out well for the child.
The boarding school debate is endless. Without a doubt, the decision to send teenagers to boarding schools should be based on a thoughtful analysis of the child in question in light of the unique challenges associated with growing up away from home. To provide you a reference point, we offer the following list of some prominent pros and cons with regards to boarding schools.
Saklani's List of Pros & Cons for Boarding Schools
1. Greater scope for independent and experiential learning
2. More self-reliance and time management
3. More opportunities for teamwork and to explore interests/potential
4. Teachers get to know and understand the students well
5. Better opportunity for self-assessment through extra-curricular activities
6. Lifelong friendships and traditionally stronger alumni networks
1. Homesickness and fewer bonding opportunities with parents
2. Lack of well-rounded social exposure
3. More affected by teacher favoritism
4. Inferiority complex from seeing others excel in sports and academics
5. Close interaction between teens from different socio-economic backgrounds may cause resentments and insecurity
6. Possibility of falling into destructive groups/cliques
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