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Sending Your Child To The Hostel – Pros And Cons

5 min read

There are no “best schools” but there is a school that is “best” for your child.”
If you are thinking about putting your child in a boarding school, chances are you are confused about its relevance and goodness in today’s world. This confusion will only be further aggravated by opinions and advises from all and sundry.
There are broadly four kinds of reactions to someone sending their child to one of the old, big boarding school.
Taking child to boarding school

  • “Wow! It will be so much fun and exciting” (Thanks to Enid Blyton and Malory Towers or J.K. Rowling and Hogwarts, depending on the age group of the person!)
  • “Oh my God! What kind of parent are you??” (Thanks exclusively to Aamir Khan and Taare Zameen Par)
  • “Your child will become a drug addict by 5th standard.” (Thanks to half baked information and wild imagination)
  • “It’s a good decision. Boarding schools are known to churn out independent and well-rounded children. It has cons too. But it is your call.” (Thanks to common sense!)

Since this is about your child’s future, it is important to remain objective and make an educated decision factoring in all the pros and cons. This is what we hope to achieve with this write up.

  • What Are The Advantages Of Sending Your Child To A Boarding School?
  • Advantages Of A Boarding School – How Relevant Are They?
  • What Are The Disadvantages Of Sending Your Child To A Boarding School?
  • What Should I Take Care Of If I Send My Child To A Hostel?

What Are The Advantages Of Sending Your Child To A Boarding School?

Let us first look at the some of the most commonly agreed pros of boarding schools. Then, let us critically examine each of them when we talk about the disadvantages.

  • Independence and self-reliance: Most boarders exhibit a sense of independence that far exceeds their peers. The fact that they cannot run to “mummy and daddy” for everything truly help them learn to manage things alone. This is a quality they build for life
  • Confidence: As a direct consequence of being independent, these kids develop a sense of confidence like no other. A good boarding school does not focus on academics and the common co-curricular and extra-curricular activities alone. They expose children to cooking, carpentry, social service, art, drama, music, trekking, mechanics and so on. More exposed they are, more confident they will be to face the world
  • Discipline: “If you do not behave, I will send you to hostel” was a warning many parents gave their kids till a generation back. While the threatening itself is not healthy, the implied message – that a boarding school life will discipline a kid – is true
  • Simple, standardized living: Everyone is equal in a hostel – whether you are the child of a popular movie star or an IT worker. The life is simple, in the sense that they are not spoiled for choices. The life is standardized, in the sense that everyone needs to follow the rules and eat the same food
  • A better social being: Kids from all walks of life come to a boarding school. When a child is forced to live among 100s of other kids from different backgrounds, it gives them an exposure like no other. Further, to survive, they need to interact, collaborate and befriend with this diverse group, which makes them a better social being who understands, appreciates and adapt to different personalities
  • Friends for life: Almost all ex-boarders swear that the friends they made in dormitories are their friends for life. This network can come to help at any stage in one’s life

Child in boarding school

Advantages Of A Boarding School – How Relevant Are They?

Now the most intriguing part of this dilemma is how relevant are all the advantages listed in the above section. Most of the “good” boarding schools were established pre-independence in hill-stations imitating British-format, targeted at British children and Indian royal and affluent families. Things have certainly evolved in these schools from that era, no doubt. However, the point is that the boarding school format was established in India to meet these unique climatic and educational demands of British. There were no schools of the same caliber back then.
Today, the situation is different. There are great day schools available across the country, many having international standards. Most of these schools also impart confidence, self-reliance and make kids socialize.
So is boarding school really worth it? It is a decision to be made exclusively by the parents. Your decision to put your child in a boarding school might be plenty – family tradition, school’s brand name, status, peer pressure or even something more troublesome like disciplining a troublesome child. In such cases, a regular day school might not cut it for you. So if you are convinced with your reasons, then it should not matter if few debate the boarding school concept!

What Are The Disadvantages Of Sending Your Child To A Boarding School?

Apart from questioning the relevance of what has traditionally been considered as the pros of a boarding school, we also list here some of the most commonly cited cons:

  • Child’s home-sickness: While common, it is still debatable that if the advantages offered by a boarding school justifies the pain the child feels
  • Parent’s child-sickness: As important as children’s homesickness is parents missing their children and second-guessing their decision. It is all the more painful if you have a particularly emotional child
  • Blending in issues: Boarding life is clearly not for everyone. While some adapt to it like a fish in a pond, many find it very difficult to blend in. You cannot remain shy and introvert and expect to sail through the years
  • Adjustment issues: Some kids feel detached with their family life after coming back from the boarding school. They might not be able to connect to their parents’ way of thinking or even outright disapprove of them
  • Boys-only / Girls-only vs. co-ed: In today’s day and age, a child needs to learn to interact with both genders well. It is a bit old-school (literally) to put boys and girls in isolation!
  • Other risks: There are other risks associated with boarding schools as well. Bullying is one of them. Some kids – especially the ones that find it difficult to blend in – are beaten up and treated badly by the “rowdies” in the school

What Should I Take Care Of If I Send My Child To A Hostel?

All these aside, if you do decide to send your kid to a boarding school, here are few tips that you need to keep in mind:

  • Explain to your child why he is being sent to a boarding school. He should not feel abandoned, now or at any time in the future
  • Remember that the school cannot be the parent. You have to keep in touch with the teachers on a regular basis and understand the progress of your child
  • Always trust your child. If he complains about bullying, chances are he might be right. The school is likely to downplay the issue, but you need to let your child know that you are with him
  • Pick up the right age to send your child – most experts peg it at nine years
  • Always look out for any signs of unhappiness. Your child might not open up to you in a fear of letting you down or because he partly blames you for the unhappiness. This makes it all the more important for you to keep your antennas up

As we said before, this is definitely an individual choice that you and your spouse need to make together, based on not just what you both want but also what is best for your child. All the best!

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