Now this may sound like an extremely weird, if not deceiving, topic for someone with no kids to write. BUT I am here to offer the “kid” perspective, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say the former kid who now looks back on her parents’ decision and is eternally grateful for having attended boarding school.
So let’s start at the beginning.
When I was 12 years old I had been practicing tennis for approximately 2 years a couple of times a week after school. Moscow is a huge city and I was basically leaving home at around 7-8 am going to school until about 14-15 and then heading to my tennis practice which was approximately an hour maybe an hour and a half away by public transport. I would get home in the evening and then have homework to do, making my day a pretty full one. Before long, my coach informed my mom of the tennis academy in Barcelona called Academia Sanchez-Casal which integrated high school studies with intensive tennis training all in one place. I assume this sounded like a good idea to my mom since she asked me if I wanted to go, but at 12 years old I was not even sure what that meant. “Mommy seems to think it’s a good idea – so why not?” was essentially what went through my head. So I don’t remember much about the decision making process or the organization as she did everything and my only job was to get ready to head to Barcelona in January of 2008.
Long story short, my mom brought me to the academy, stayed for a week while I “adjusted” (I put quotation marks because there was no way for me to properly “adjust” to living in a new country and without my family in a week) and after quite a waterfall of tears from both sides (as I remember) she was gone.
For the first few weeks/months I called my mom morning and evening and we spoke for what seems like a very long time but gradually I did start to adjust. Luckily, I already spoke English which was the language at the school so at least I did not have to also go through the communications barrier. It took some time to get used to the “looking out for myself” part, but I now understand that as a kid you are nothing if not adaptable.
Fast forward 6 years and I was graduating that very same high school in that very same academy that completely terrified me upon my arrival. So as I was preparing my graduation speech in my room with my best friend, I begun to realize how precious the 6 years I spent there were. Me and my friends spent a lot of time together, saw each other every day, and basically grew up together. They were no longer just friends – these people are my family. They’ve been with me through everything – the good, the bad, the ugly and helped me through it all. This kind of connection is not forgotten easily, but more importantly it is extremely difficult to find. So before this post turns into a heartfelt letter to them, I will go ahead and tell you why sending your kid to a boarding school may just be the best thing you can do for him/her.
I know for some sending a child to a boarding school to live alone at 12 may seem a little extreme and perhaps unnecessary, and yes maybe 12 is a little young but it is your child and he/she will always be a small baby who needs protection to you (or so I’ve heard). So what if your kid turns 18 and you still can’t let them go? Or worse, they don’t want to go anywhere and would be happy to stay and live in your house their entire life while you take care of the cooking, the laundry and the entertainment for them. This may be controversial and of course it all depends on parenting styles, but sending your kid to boarding school ensures they learn to be independent. They won’t have you to double check their every move and will thereby be forced to learn how to handle things by themselves. That, and not to mention the amount of freedom they will be getting which trust me, they will grow to love quickly.
This point sort of ties into the previous one. Learning to be independent will come from having new responsibilities which in my opinion are best to acquire sooner rather than later as they will also lead to your kid learning about accountability. By being away from the protection of the parents, it is inevitable to learn the responsibility for ones actions. The sooner they understand that every action has consequences which cannot be ignored – the better it is for them in their future career and life in general.
I have mentioned this briefly before, but let me emphasize – children should be spending time with people their own age as much as possible to be able to develop the necessary communications skills which will aid them throughout their life. But more importantly, sending your kid to a boarding school gives him/her a chance to develop incredible relationships which will stem from countless hours spent together and overcoming problems. I would like to emphasize this point because in my experience, forming meaningful connections only gets harder with age – we become less open, more self-aware and often times less trusting. And that is okay – so long as you have some people who you can count on no matter what because these are the people who will help you get through the hard times. Growing up together builds trust, and when I arrived at my university I met many people who were leaving their home for the first time and some have never experienced truly meaningful friendships.
So don’t be scared to send your kid away if you are unsure, chances are – it will be better for the both of you.
This post is my personal opinion based on my experiences, I do not wish to pretend like I have answers on how it is best to raise your children. Nor do I wish to offend anyone. I simply felt like it is an important topic to share.