Many of my helicopter-parenting peers (Gen X and Millenial parents) have strong views on whether they will, or won’t, consider boarding as a schooling option for their offspring. Most of us have either experienced boarding first-hand or can recount tales told (in all its glorious, or gory details) by friends who did attend boarding school.

Said offspring, on the other hand, might have a very romanticised view on life as a boarder after having watched the Harry Potter movies, or reading Catcher in the Rye. Pop culture often embellishes life as a hostel dweller – life doesn’t always imitate art.

With almost 80 boarding schools in Gauteng alone, it begs the question: have boarding schools become an obsolete notion in today’s parenting philosophies and styles? Or a life hack (life jacket?) for parents without a support structure in place?

 

 

Numbers from surveys run by the Association of Boarding Schools (U.S.A. & Canada) show that boarding school students feel more prepared for life after school, rate their school experience as very satisfactory and are more likely to earn advanced degrees. Boarding school afford our children a unique experience:

  • developing and growing within a diverse and supportive community.
  • immersing themselves in school life and their education.
  • positioning themselves to succeed after school.

And yet choosing a boarding school experience over day school options can prove daunting. Rather than focussing on the short-term effects, the long-term benefits and bigger picture should be considered.

In most instances boarding schools offer learners opportunities like unlimited access to extra-curricular activities and programmes (parents aren’t being stressed out trying to manoeuvre city traffic to get to the next activity on time), nurturing a more balanced approach to learning, time management, accountability and self-discipline, important factors for personal development and growth. To others, the stability of a boarding school (home away from home) is what sets them up for success. Many a success story of leaders and prominent figures alike, started and were shaped by boarding schools.

 

 

So, in no particular order or importance, here follows just five of the many benefits of enrolling your child in a boarding school:

1. Can you spell ‘INDEPENDENCE’?

Being a hostel dweller present children with a plethora of opportunities for their personal growth and budding independence.

As much as us helicopter-parents want to shield and protect our children from the world, independence might be one of the most valuable gifts we may have to offer them. Boarding, a safe and protected home away from home, is the ideal antidote to our hyper-vigilance. Whilst receiving support and guidance from parents, teachers and hostel parents alike, boarders tend to develop life skills such as independence, work ethic and time management much faster than their day scholar counterparts: they must take some measure of responsibility and accountability upon themselves. Their almost unlimited access to school and after-school activities mean that they learn to prioritise and time-manage their commitments to create a balanced timetable.

We know that these skills come in quite handy after school…

2. There is no ‘I’ in team

In boarding you wake up, go to bed, eat, play, study, and socialise amongst your friends and peers – 24/7.

A boarding school that promotes a diverse and inclusive culture with learners from a variety of backgrounds, presents a unique opportunity for learning and growth. As they live together, and learn together, learners are able to develop their world view and perspective.

When you live and learn together in a community, you motivate and grow together, too.

 

 

3. We are herd animals

If the past couple of years of pandemic-induced lockdowns and isolation have taught us anything, it is that we are a social species by design. Whether introverted or extroverted, we have an inherent need to be with people, to engage and connect on a social level.

What better way for children to do so than the safe, controlled environment of a boarding house?

Of course, with living and learning amongst your peers come the risk of misunderstandings, disagreements and the like (whom amongst us do not disagree with their housemates at times?). But the opposite is also true: this social dynamic encourages social maturity and other valuable social and communication skills like conflict resolution and a sense of community.

4. Rhythm and self-discipline

Rise and shine. Get dressed. Make your bed. Pack your bag. Have breakfast… Running a hostel is quite the organisation!

Having a routine make boarders feel safe in what to expect every day, as well as what will be expected of them.

5. Picking brains

Dedicated, supervised study times mean learners have peer support when doing homework. Hostel parents are also always on hand to provide extra assistance when necessary, request support or give feedback to teachers.

The Waldorf School and The High School in the east of Pretoria have a hostel that provides children with a home-away-from-home environment.

Our hostel is situated about 800m away from the school buildings on Rosemary Hill Farm in a modern farm-style set-up. Our dedicated and experienced hostel parents have been ‘father’ and ‘mother’ to our boarders for many years and have created a warm, homely and safe haven for our children where they feel comfortable in knowing that they have ready access to someone that will lovingly listen to them.

The children are free to play, explore and socialise supervised to their hearts’ content in the afternoons and go to bed at night tired, but happy. Rosemary Hill’s renowned kitchen prepares three fresh, hearty meals a day using organic vegetables grown on the farm to keep bellies full and cheeks plump and rosy.

With your children entrusted in the finest care, a wholesome, healthy environment and joyful atmosphere during the school week, what’s stopping you from enrolling your child in boarding?

The Waldorf School accepts grade 1 to 9 learners for boarding at any time during the school year. Contact us today to book a tour of our beautiful boarding facilities.

 

 

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