Boarding school life: What are the advantages and how do I prepare my child?

Q&A with Mehgan Dorman, Residential Life Academic Coordinator, North Broward Preparatory School

Q: How will boarding school and life away from home benefit my child?

A:  Providing your child with a boarding school education has many advantages. For example, most boarding schools have small class sizes and very personalized learning approaches in the classroom, which allows students more one-on-one time with their teachers and classmates.

In addition, learning to live away from home at an early age gives students a real sense of independence, not only in the classroom and dorm, but in everyday life. For example, North Broward Preparatory School has students from over 35 different countries and with such diversity in the dorm, boarding students are exposed to different cultures, languages, and ways of life. As a result, boarding students tend to be more prepared emotionally for their college experience than their day student counterparts. 

Q: As a first-time boarding parent, what are some things I can do to prepare my child?  

A: Time management tends to be something that new students struggle with.  While dorm parents help students adjust to new schedules and develop routines, starting at home is key. Also, while it may seem obvious, make sure your child is knowledgeable about everyday activities. For example, how to do laundry, what can or can’t go in the microwave, nutritious foods as part of an everyday diet, and managing an allowance are simple, yet important things will help with your child’s transition into boarding school life.

Q: What tips or advice do you have for new boarding students to help them feel at home?

A:  Once a student arrives, we strongly encourage him or her to join an athletic team or school club. These are great ways for students to meet new friends, become an active member of the school community and find something that they are passionate about. For parents, understand your child’s daily schedule, and create a communication routine for your family. Skype, phone calls, and emails are great tools to keep in touch and stay involved in your child’s life.

Q: How can I track my child’s academic progress?

A: A great way to keep up with your child’s academic progress is through a Student Information System (SIS). For example, at North Broward, we use an online system called Skyward, which is a password protected, web-based service that enables parents with access to vital school and student information at any time, day or night, through a computer or mobile device. Report cards, student attendance, class schedule, and messages from teachers are just a few examples of the important information parents can access.

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