Reasons to Send Your Child to Boarding School

middle school students picking grapes

When parents decide to send their child to boarding school, many of them cite the following usual reasons:

  • smaller class sizes,
  • more extracurricular activities and trips,
  • improved life skills,
  • better teachers, and
  • better preparation for college.

These are all great reasons, but there are also so many more! Boarding school isn’t just about placing your child in an environment with better academics. It’s also about helping them discover who they are as individuals. Living on their own, young people get a better understanding of how to take care of themselves. They learn how to meet their physical and emotional needs and advocate for their own interests.  For many people, this discovery does not occur until they are living on their own or in college. By sending your child to boarding school, parents are giving their children a valuable head start on figuring out who they are and who they want to be!

Starting Self Discovery Young

middle school students working on mathBoarding school is usually synonymous with high school. However, there are several boarding schools that start earlier, like Arthur Morgan School, which works exclusively with middle schoolers. Maria Montessori actually believed the best time to start boarding school was during early adolescence. In her book, From Childhood to Adolescence, she wrote, “During the difficult time of adolescence, it is desirable to have the child live outside his habitual surroundings, outside the family, in the country, in a peaceful place, in the bosom of nature.”

She continues to say that by living in a boarding environment, students “can better harmonize with the demands of study and work, while family life must rather conform to the demands of life of the parents.” Montessori believed that for young adolescents to become their own people, with their own ambitions and work ethic, they needed to live independently. Boarding school is an excellent opportunity for young adolescents to get that chance.

Living in Community 

For many us, our identities are shaped not only by our individual experiences, but by those around us.  When students live at home, their lives are often shaped by their parents’ beliefs and desires. By placing their child in a new environment, parents are exposing them to a whole world of diverse and interesting influences. A boarding school community allows adolescents to experiment and try out different behaviors. They feel the natural consequences of their actions. By living in community with their peers and trusted adults, they are able to determine their own moral code, decide how they want to interact with people, and learn how to build healthy relationships.

Boarding school also puts students in close contact with peers who are going through similar self discovery. As opposed to only seeing their friends during the school day, boarding students live together.  They process their feelings with one another and support each other.  As a result, they often create strong connections and deep friendships that last the rest of their lives.

middle schoolers washing carrotsScott Ashcraft, a Forest Service ranger in Western NC, attended AMS in 1980.  He was only there for one year, but in that time he made friends with people he still talks to today.  “AMS shaped my life in a lot of ways, but one of things I treasure most is that I still talk and hang out with the friends I made there.” Ashcraft even moved back to Celo many years after he went to school there.” A big part of the reason I moved back to Celo was reconnect with those friends.” Ashcraft now serves on AMS’s Board of Directors.

A Tailored Environment

AMS is just one of many boarding school out there, but it makes a great example of just what boarding school can do. By choosing to only work with middle schoolers, AMS has created an environment that is perfectly suited to the students it serves. Hands-on classes, a real working farm, art studios, and outdoor trips all encourage middle schoolers to discover their interests and realize their purpose. Through their experience they figure out what they want to do with their lives.  By making these realizations early, they are better prepared to advocate for themselves and their needs.

No matter what school parents choose for their child, they should feel confident that boarding school is a great choice. Their child will grow and become a better student–not just because the learning environment is better, but because they will understand themselves better.  They will feel cared and supported while doing so, and perhaps thats the best reason of all.

-by Nicholas Maldonado