Considering boarding school?

Is a boarding school environment right for your child? Alison Watt, Marketing and Communications Advisor at Dilworth School, weighs in. 

When it comes to education, there is no one-size-fits all option. Each child has their own unique strengths and needs, meaning what could be the right fit for one may not be right for the other. This can vary even between siblings brought up in the same household.

One educational option that can be a daunting thought for some parents is boarding school. Once thought of as option only for out-of-towners, the modern boarding school environment offers a lot of flexibility and is gaining popularity even amongst city-dwellers.

What differentiates boarding schools from day schools is that the pupils live on the premises. Their accommodation, meals, and pastoral care needs are all met by the school during the week (and sometimes over the weekend, depending on the arrangement). Although the idea of separation can seem unnerving at first, if a boarding school environment is right for your child, they can really flourish.

One fear parents have about sending their child to boarding school is the negative effect this separation may have on the parent-child relationship. Contrary to this, Head of the Junior Campus at Dilworth, Peter Vos, who has worked in a boarding school environment for 25 years, says, “The feedback I get from many parents is that children often grow closer to their parents. The daily friction of life – the chores, the homework battles, and the weekday stresses are no longer an issue, so for many parents and students, the time that they do spend together is quality time. It opens up communication channels as the children often can’t wait to tell their families what they’ve been doing during the week.”

Benefits of boarding school

The key benefit of a boarding school environment is that it promotes important life skills including self- reliance, independence, and responsibility. Through co-living, students are prepared for the real world, and this character development bene ts them for years to come – in the workplace, personal relationships, and living with others.

Pastoral care of students is an essential feature of boarding life. Students are no longer expected to endure personal or relational issues on their own. Boarding staff and schools have a vested interest in the happiness of students. This leads to students who flourish in all aspects of school life: Academically, culturally, sporting, and socially.

Modern boarding schools also offer a lot of flexibility and options. Some boarders live in only during the school week, whereas others just return home for the school holidays. With boarding schools situated all around New Zealand, there is the option of a school in more remote location of the country or an inner-city environment.

Structure matters

One of the reasons parents choose a boarding school education for their child is the structure it offers. Headmaster of Dilworth Dan Reddiex,
who has previously spent 25 years in day schools, says, “It’s important for children of all ages, but particularly when they are teenagers, to be in an environment that keeps them engaged and busy, has clear boundaries, high expectations, and structure. “A quality boarding establishment provides such a foundation for learning and living. If parents can see their children flourishing in this type of environment, then a boarding school education is an option worthy of serious consideration.”

What’s the cost?

The cost of boarding schools in New Zealand can vary depending on the school. It can range from free in the case of Dilworth School, which is unique, through to $4,000 per term, which includes all meals while the students are at school. The most important consideration, however, is ensuring that this is the right educational environment for your child and their future.

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