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Pros and cons of boarding school

A broad look at the big concerns

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What are the pros and cons of boarding school? Families need to create their own list, based on the needs of the family and of children. As a starting point, though, here is an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of sending children to boarding school. Click on the links for each to learn more. To learn more, read our guide to private school living arrangments.

Pros

Boarding school offers many distinct advantages unavailable anywhere else.

Unique education and opportunity. Boarding school offers a completely unique education experience, with many advantages over other education experiences. 

Traditional standards. Many boarding schools, perhaps especially those with longer histories in Canada, honour and maintain the traditions that they represent.

Close community of learners. Students join an academic community that respects learning and can be transformative. 

International and global perspectives. Intensive international programs are a priority for boarding schools.

Daily routine that invokes self-discipline. Strict routine and independence from parents fosters self-reliance among boarding school boys and girls.

Academic development like no other. Boarding school fosters a supportive "all in this together" community where kids have opportunities to learn collaboration. 

Unique social and personal development. The boarding school environment offers opportunities for personal growth and social development that are unavailable through other means.

Mentorship. Teachers and older students in a boarding school environment are uniquely supportive of younger students.

An environment of learning outside the classroom. The immersion in school life offered by boarding allows a holistic approach to learning that extends well beyond classroom walls.

Culture of collaboration and responsibility. The boarding school environment encourages all children to learn more about how to work well with others.

Cross-curricular. The extra time allowed by boarding school allows for fuller integration of curricula and programs.

Academic innovation. A number of top boarding schools are often ahead of the curve in terms of creating or integrating innovative education techniques and improvements. 

Cons

No school is perfect, and parents and students considering boarding schools need to be aware of some concerns.

More expensive than other private education options. Of course, boarding school is more expensive than other education options (although room and board is included in the cost).

The presence of bullying and related problems. Boarding school are not immune to problems with bullying (as is sometimes documented in the media), but they are also uniquely well-positioned to deal with bullying through innovative programs that help students integrate. 

Moving away from home can be very difficult. This is the biggest challenge of boarding for many students, but of course this also fosters independence and personal growth. 

Boarding too young can lead to "boarding school syndrome." This is a documented problem, and parents need to be wary of sending kids to school too young or when they have not matured enough. 

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