Written by Pradeep
If you are thinking about sending your child to the hostel, chances are that you are confused about its relevance and goodness in today’s world. This confusion will only be further aggravated by opinions and advice from all and sundry.
There are broadly four kinds of reactions to someone sending their children to one of the old, big boarding schools.
There are no “best schools” but there is a school that is “best” for your child.
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.
Are you sending your child to the hostel? Let us first look at some of the most commonly agreed pros of boarding schools. Then, let us critically examine each of them when we talk about the disadvantages.
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.
As a direct consequence of being independent, these kids develop a sense of confidence like no other. A good boarding school does not only focus on academics.
It exposes children to cooking, carpentry, social service, art, drama, music, trekking, mechanics, and so on. The more exposed they are, the more confident they will be, to face the world.
“If you do not behave, I will send you to the hostel” was a warning many parents gave their kids till a generation back. While the threat itself is not healthy, the implied message – that a boarding school life will discipline a kid – is true.
Everyone is equal in a hostel – whether you are the child of a popular movie star or an IT worker. Life is simple, in the sense that they are not spoiled for choices. Life is standardized, which means that everyone needs to follow the rules and eat the same food.
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 exposure like no other.
Further, to survive, they need to interact, collaborate and befriend this diverse group, which makes them a better social being who understands, appreciates and adapt to different personalities.
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.
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 the 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 the 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 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 – a 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 you can ignore the debate on the boarding school concept!
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:
While common, it is still debatable that if the advantages offered by a boarding school justify the pain the child feels.
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.
Some kids feel detached from their family life after coming back from boarding school. They might not be able to connect to their parents’ way of thinking or even outright disapprove of them.
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!
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
All these aside, if you do decide to send your kid to a boarding school, here are a few tips that you need to keep in mind:
As we said before, this is 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!
Initially they might. The separation can be hard. However, many children adjust easily.
It can be tough. Talk and make your child understand the reason behind your decision to send them. Keep in regular touch to reassure them.
Yes, it definitely will. Many children take time to adjust. Until then, they can be quite rebellious.
It’s a personal choice. Different households have different needs. Communicate with your child and reassure them constantly.
Read Also: Homeschooling: Pros and Cons
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