Boarding school parents support forum?

(86 Posts)
Merlinswife Thu 29-Nov-12 12:14:25

I have a friend whose two children are now boarders and she's feeling a bit cut off. I wondered if there was a forum she could join- like MN- but for parents of children who do termly boarding?

difficultpickle Sat 08-Dec-12 17:13:21

How would you miss your ds growing up? confused That would imply you don't get to speak to him or see him when he is boarding. Ds will go to a full boarding senior school but I would run a mile from any school that wouldn't allow contact.

happygardening Sat 08-Dec-12 17:27:26

In short no.
I do miss him but not the growing up thing although he seems more grown up every time I see him. I saw him this week having not seen him for two weeks and he looked taller and his voice was deeper.
What I got most pleasure from was watching him with his two team mates (both older than him) the very very obvious camaraderie that was there between the three of them and the pleasure it gave him as an individual to be with other like minded individuals where he felt comfortable because he was free to be himself. His schools does not try to mould boys personalities in a specific way. This is one of the first time in his life that I've ever really seen this happen for him. It makes all the missing him, struggling to pay fees worth it.

wheresthegin Sat 08-Dec-12 17:45:12

bisjo - I don't know, which is why I need to know about all aspects of having a dc full board.

It has been brought to our attention recently that ds would be a good candidate for an award to enable him to attend this amazing school. We never in our wildest dreams had considered such a school before now.

After never thinking about boarding, I am now all in a tis about what full boarding exactly entails. We have a few appointments with various departments in January, but it's useful to collect real-life stories and experiences.

Please feel free to enlighten me with your full boarding experiences.

wheresthegin Sat 08-Dec-12 17:47:24

HG - thank you. That must be so lovely to be able to watch your ds like that.

A good story/experience.

grovel Sat 08-Dec-12 18:46:41

wheresthegin, my DS was at a full boarding school 6 miles from us. He loved it.

School terms are short. There are exeat week-ends and half-terms. I think our DS spent the best part of 40% of his nights under our roof. We also saw him often at week-ends (matches, concerts, taking him out to lunch). In no way did I feel that I was missing his adolescence or abdicating parental responsibilities.

What was nice is that we got plenty of quality time (hate the expression). He did not take us/home for granted which he might well have done if he had been here all the time. I think we just outsourced the nagging bit of parenting (laundry, homework etc).

He will have a phone and access to email/Skype.

wheresthegin Sat 08-Dec-12 18:58:08

Grovel -I like this. Sounds perfect!
Another good story.

grovel Sat 08-Dec-12 22:37:43

wheresthegin, I was addressing the point about missing your child's development.

Nothing is really perfect - we are talking about teenagers! Follow your heart and brain but don't expect everything to be easy whatever your choice. I'm sure you know this.

wheresthegin Sat 08-Dec-12 23:29:48

yes, nothing is ever "easy".
DS likes the idea, and has really picked his game up in order to impress in January. Of course, it may all never happen anyway and we'll stick with the day school option that was, up until now, the obvious option.

I think I need to stop thinking about it now and see what news the new year brings. As I said, it may not be an option anyway.

Thank you.

grovel Sat 08-Dec-12 23:54:04

Well, let me wish and your family you a happy Christmas.

It's very trite - but you can only do your best as a parent and as a child.

happygardening Sun 09-Dec-12 08:22:49

wheresthegin the amount of parental involvement varies from full boarding school to full boarding school. I believe grovel's DS went to Eton where from talking to friends with DS's there there is considerably more flexibility for parents re coming home for the odd Saturday night and other things. At my DS's school there is considerably less parental involvement e,g. no coming home on Saturday night. I know Radley a little bit and suspect that it has a similar ethos to my DS's school. You need to ask yourself if you would he happy with this and also find out exactly what you as parents can and can't do.

happygardening Sun 09-Dec-12 08:29:08

Meant to add that most independent schools on the surface are pretty similar same exams similar faculties class sizes etc etc all the things you see on open days or read on websites. But it is in the micro detail that variation occur and it is when this micro details is at odds with either what you or your DCs want/expect/like that conflict occurs and ultimately unhappiness arises.

derekthehamster Sun 09-Dec-12 08:30:40

Ha Ha, love the idea that we're outsourcing the nagging and laundry!!

My son has just finished his 4th term at full boarding, and whilst i was there picking him up, it struck me again, that they grow up so quickly. Some of the boys, were really like men in the older years, whilst the youngest still looked like young children.

Every now and again I get the romantic notion that I'm missing out, but I'm not. He texts and phones (when he hasn't mislaid his phone), and he really appreciates coming home (I think his bed is more comfy here).

The school is definitely becoming more open, we already take him out every other Sunday, and if you want you can take them out after Saturday school and bring them back Sun night/Mon morning.

happygardening Sun 09-Dec-12 08:52:39

The school is definitely becoming more open, we already take him out every other Sunday, and if you want you can take them out after Saturday school and bring them back Sun night/Mon morning.
This is increasingly becoming more common in "full" boarding schools but this is obviously not full boarding and and very difficult for those parents like us who are not able to do this due to distance from the school and it also can be difficult for those who cant go home because often only a few children are left in school although some schools organise activities/outings (my DS's doesn't really) I should be thankful that at my DS's school they are only allowed home on Sunday.

derekthehamster Sun 09-Dec-12 11:26:23

I don't know of any children who do leave the school at the weekends, but the option is there if you want to take them to a family wedding etc. It would get quite expensive to take them home every weekend, petrolwise shock

peppapigpants Sun 09-Dec-12 14:49:56

My DD is 15 and has boarded since her 11th birthday when she started Y7. She's now in Y11 and leaves after her GCSEs are completed this summer. For the last few years she has come home every weekend with very few exceptions. It takes about an hour to drive each way. Now she can walk to town with her friends, get the train, change at Clapham Junction and be home in less time than it takes me to drive there and back, so she does that instead. Many children stay at school at weekends, it's about 40% I guess.

happygardening Sun 09-Dec-12 17:20:09

I reckon about 30% of my DS's year and house stay in on Sunday. Our drive is nearly 1 1/2 hours one way and our train journey nearly three and then a half hour car drive although we only live in the next county! We have fewer exeats than many so he comes home for Sunday twice a term. The boys are not allowed out on Saturday evening even for a very special occassion and we were told that on the first day.

derekthehamster Sun 09-Dec-12 20:23:25

Just asked ds how many go out for lunch on a Sunday, and he thinks about 1 or 2. So our of 45 boys, 43 are in all weekend.

We are lucky that we only live a 40min drive away, so it's easy for us to pop up and take him out, probably once or twice per half term. Most boys seem to come from London, which is about 1 1/2 hours drive away.

Honestyisbest Sun 09-Dec-12 21:22:36

My DD has just finished her first term boarding. I can't to collect her on Wednesday. We only live about 20 mins away which has been such a bonus as we can go and watch matches, concerts etc and she can then have a bonus exeat so we can share a meal together and then drop her back. it has been a massive change for us. But from the beginning we have chatted, emailed and written to each other and this has been so positive. it's wonderful seeing my DD developing such skills that will help her, flexibility, tolerance, friendship, meeting girls from all round the world. She was very involved in the decision to board and flexi boarded a little at her prep school so she knew what was involved. My DS is at a fantastic day school and equally that works for him. He has been looking at boarding sixth form, but personality wise I think day school will always suit him better. I agree with Happygardening re looking at your child's personality. One major point for me is that when my DD is home I can just be Mummy, no homework, or extracurric activities, just time together. And I love the long holidays!

wheresthegin Sun 09-Dec-12 21:30:00

Some good experiences here. thank you.
Does anyone want to have a go at detailing the type of personality to enjoy / hate boarding?

Honestyisbest Sun 09-Dec-12 22:07:32

Well here goes:
My DD is independent, quietly confident, friendly, hard working, self motivated, has lots of stamina, not too sensitive and super organised. She is flexible and doesn't worry about things work or otherwise. Oh and great at packing and unpacking! She has settled really well and is thriving from what we can see, report is due online in a week or so! My son is different and would have struggled with organising himself, getting his prep independently and with the energy needed for a long day of academic and extracurric activities. But he has other attributes! Hope that helps.
PS I do think the top boarding schools are pretty good at selecting Dcs who will thrive in a boarding environment. Your child has to be someone who will thrive living in a community.

happygardening Mon 10-Dec-12 08:04:22

Definitely agree about lots of stamina/energy. Boarding is very very full on, not for those who favour a lazy quiet life. Most boarding school children especially those in their first term will be absolutely exhausted by now. As parents we need to take off the rose tinted spectacles and critically appraise our children's strengths and weaknesses especially if considering full boarding. I am also becoming increasingly unconvinced that boarding is always the solution for children with significant problems at home especially marital break down although it does offer stability and an opportunity to escape from conflict I think it leaves these children feeling outside of a process that they are clearly worried about. School refusers, and those with significant mental health problems OCD etc may also struggle and your school needs to be chosen with extra care and only after a very honest conversation with them.
Also the very fussy eater is probably going to struggle.

wheresthegin Mon 10-Dec-12 10:27:18

DS is......has good stamina. Likes structure and rules, loves sport, will join as many clubs/activities as he can. Gets on and does homework independently, (proud mum!).
However, he is quite shy and tends to hover at the back of whatever he is doing. That's my only concern really. I wonder if he can stand up for himself if any argey-bargey / bullying happens.

grovel Mon 10-Dec-12 11:01:00

wheresthegin, nothing in your description would worry me.....much better to start slightly diffident and grow in confidence than to assume that you are an alpha male and have a rude awakening in Week 2.

I read recently that Radley had 60 new boys who had been their prep school first XVs at rugby. Clearly many of them had to get used to playing in the thirds and fourths for their year group.

happygardening Mon 10-Dec-12 13:05:51

he is quite shy and tends to hover at the back of whatever he is doing
As long as he's comfortable with this I think he will be fine IME problems arises when boys try too hard and make themselves be liked and try not be shy then others just think they're weird and back off. There are bound to be other like minded boys although Radley is very boyish if you know what I mean. There is bullying in every school and some boys are very adept at picking out a gentler more reserved character and being unkind. But most boarding schools if aware of this will stamp down on it very hard. With regard to "argey-bargey" Im not quite sure what you mean but you do need to remember that Radley is a virtually all male environment and that many of the boys will be very competitive and there will be the inevitable banter/teasing etc this is why I do think to board especially full board your DC needs to be "robust" or shall we say reasonably thick skinned. Boarding especially at Radley is not suitable for the wet.

derekthehamster Mon 10-Dec-12 14:20:23

I'll just throw into the mix, my ds is pretty disorganised, certainly at home! he seems to be doing fine though.

He is quite independent, and not very sensitive (things run off his back, he doesn't take offense).

He is also shy until he gets to know people.

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