Working Parents and the Benefits of Boarding

David Wesley discusses an issue affecting many modern-day parents and explains how a good boarding school can help.


Parents in today’s world don't have it easy. They need to provide for their families, which often means long hours in the office, sacrificed holidays, and being exhausted by the time they get home and unwind. For the expats among us who have relocated their families to the UAE, the chances are that we haven't done so purely based on opportunities for better education, rather the move was based on job opportunities presented to one or both spouses. Whether we are prepared to admit it or not, parental absenteeism, be it literal or figurative, can have a distressing impact on the psychological development of a child.


Absenteeism has a lot of variables; the age of the child, the context of the separation, the duration of the absence, etc., and the ultimate consequences can vary. Depression, anxiety, and behavioural issues are just a few of the possible clinical concerns.


Psychology professionals are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact our hyper connected lives are having on the way we interact with our children.  After a busy, and most likely stressful, day knowing how to separate your work and home life is a mandatory skill, for both your family’s and your own health. Some of us have become so adept at multitasking and remaining constantly connected by the tap of a finger or the push of a button, that we’re unconsciously robbing our offspring of the attention they need and deserve.  


This brings our discussion to boarding school; a topic that often passes through the minds of these hustle-and-bustle parents. What is best for their child? What are the benefits of being at home and what effect would being away from home have on them in the long run? Is home a constructive environment in which they can live and grow in the current situation?


When choosing a school for your child, the options can seem overwhelming. It is perhaps simplest just to remember that one size does not fit all.  Finances are often the driver in the decision of whose hands you place your child’s education in, but these issues of work/ life balance are becoming an increasingly huge issue for parents of the 21st century.


With an advantageous support system and a regimented schedule, there have been many psychologically proven benefits of boarding.  These include independence, developing a stronger sense of self-esteem and self-confidence, and learning to take care of themselves in a safe and monitored environment. The lack of after-school structure in most modern homes is not conducive to completing homework, meeting deadlines of school work, chores, or taking part in educational extracurricular activities.


From an education perspective, I stand firm in the belief that by providing positive reinforcement when children are developing their skills and interests helps to build a strong value system and self-esteem. Boarding schools are built on the back of extensive educational research; what is best for the child, what are the different needs for different age groups, and the power of positive attention. This plays a valuable role in shaping a child’s confidence and ability to tackle life’s problems, while affirming they have what it takes to succeed no matter what speed bumps they hit along the way. Being given full attention and spoken to in a somewhat adult manner, helps a child feel respected and teaches them to interact positively with other adults. Boarding school structures and schedules are built around these values and combined with the exact amount of supervision and freedom that encourages healthy emotional growth. As they grow older this sense of maturity is often palpable.  It is these children who tend to have the most success both in and out of the classroom, knowing how to reason with others and see situations with a level head.


Contrary to popular belief, many families find that family relationships flourish as a result of boarding. Not to sound cliché but distance really does make the heart grow fonder: not always being around each other and having space makes the time you spend together all the more precious.  As well as this, being disjointed from family or work-related tension and stress, can spare unnecessary emotional trauma particularly during those dreaded teenage years.  Boarding allows you to wave goodbye to those days of nagging and encourages a relationship with your child built on trust, affection, and mutual respect.


About David Wesley:

David founded The British Boarding Schools Show, the world’s largest exhibition of private schools in 2006. Providing access to parents, enabling them to make increasingly informed decisions about schools and their children’s education. David Co-founded Bonas MacFarlane Education in 2009 stating, that which unites all of us involved is a passion for UK independent education.  David was educated at Ashdown House School, The King’s School, Canterbury and Edinburgh University and has two sons, George and Teddy.  



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