Many people associate boarding school with adolescence and increasing independence. Often boarding schools are college preparatory environments where high school aged youth get a taste of what it’s like to be away from home and to have greater freedom and responsibility. However this is by no means always the case.
Many boarding schools for children cater to children of a significantly younger age bracket. It is even possible to find boarding schools for toddlers – kindergartens away from home if you will. There are of course concerns as to whether a child is ready for an extended period of separation from parents. While it is hard to come up with a specific age when boarding school begins to be an appropriate option, and older is for the most part better, a number of factors should be weighed before deciding if your child is ready for boarding school.
At the outset is should said that boarding schools for children of kindergarten age are not very common, and probably not really recommended. At that age children obviously need a lot of parental attention and contact, and the likelihood is that if they are separated from parents they will experience confusion and attempt to make parental figures out of the faculty of the school instead. This was mentioned mainly for illustrative purposes.
A traditional age at which boarding school sometimes begins for children is around 8 years. In fact, the modern day English princes William and Harry were both sent away to school by their mother Diana at that age, and this, especially among the aristocratic classes of Europe, is traditional. But to use a set numerical rule of thumb is not really the best approach. Rather one should look at the situational factors that come into play.
One of the main factors that should be taken into account when considering boarding schools for children of a young age is how such an environment stacks up against the home environment. In most cases, the home would be considered more stable, but in certain situations this is not the case. For instance, if the parents are in the military or have jobs that require frequent travel and moving from place to place, a child may subjected to repeated uprooting and changing of groups of friends.
In such cases, boarding schools can provide a stable and constant sort of situation in which a child can make more lasting contacts and have access to educational continuity. As long as parents visit frequently and maintain contact with the child, this can work quite well.
Another factor to consider is simply the independence and maturity of the child. Children tend to mature at different rates, and some may be far more ready to leave the nest at a younger age than others. If a child is fairly independent seeming and able to shoulder reasonable amounts of responsibility, that’s a promising sign as far as boarding school is concerned. Continue reading