Saturday, October 20, 2007

Boarding school experience?

Ok. So, here's the deal... P#1 was offered a HUGE scholarship (full ride) at a prestigious prep-school about three hours from here. It's academic merits are above question - it's a feeder school for Yale University. But... she would have to board...at 13...for four years. I realize that in England and other countries, this is pretty routine. So, I really would like some feedback about this. She would like to hear from those who've gone away to this sort of school. And, so would P-Daddy and I.

I really didn't expect to have to deal with these issues until 2012. It's kind of freakin' me out.

In other news, I think Jack and I are going to podcast tomorrow night. Any topics you want us to talk about? Anything you guys want read on the air? If you want it on the air, just put "For Podcast" in the subject line.

Oh yeah...and Dumbledore is gay. ;) YES!! I KNEW IT! How cool is JK Rowling? I don't know what faith she claims, but I love the fact that she's "come out" with this information after thouroughly proving that reading literature with gay characters will not magically make one gay. Love it! Of course, I'm sure we'll see some flack from the hard core, Jesus Campy types who will claim that Harry Potter was evil all along. *rolls eyes*

25 comments:

SWE said...

I've known some very fabulous human beings who went to boarding schools. I'm secretly envious of them.

From a parenting perspective, you really want to know what kind of supervision the kids have in their dorms, what the social life is like, when you can visit unannounced, how your kid can contact you etc. Also, I bet there's a yahoo group for current parents out there somewhere that you could join. And get a really, really clear understanding of the contract under which they provide care for your kid.

Aside from that, you could always take out your bible and pray about it. ;)

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Yeah,...I'll get right on that prayer session. ;)

We have soooo many concerns. Not the least of which is my fear that my child, by virtue of being their on scholarship, could be teased or hassled. Then again, the qualifications for the scholarship were intense and reserved for, as the letter says, the "best of the best". She had to sit for an exam and she came out first. In all honesty, I let her sit for the scholarship exam because I thought it would give her practice with college entrance exams. I didn't think she'd not only beat the rest of the field, but also have the requirements for enrollment (4.0 or better for three years prior to enrollment, six letters of recommendation - with four being from science or math teachers, specific aptitude in the sciences, and zero behavior issues for three years prior to enrollment). Basically, you have to be a Stepford Student all through Junior High.

Academically, I know she's ready. Emotionally...eh'...I'm not so sure. She still gets scared during thunderstorms. :) She is the cuddler. She is sensitive. And,... I guess I would just really miss seeing her grow up. I feel like, if we send her off, we're not going to see all of those milestones and family things that we enjoy so much. I love parenting...I'm not ready to let her go, yet. But, damn...that's selfish of me. KWIM?

The Freshman class board in individual rooms (they don't share). There are 30-40 girls in the Freshman house and two teachers who live in house and serve as dorm parents. They would be the "mommy figures". And, from the looks of it, there's a real family feel to the school.

The school is old and has a fantastic reputation. I actually lived next door to it when I was an infant. It's all that and a bag of chips...

But, do I want her raised in that kind of priveledge? I come from a very blue collar family. I was the first to graduate university. I don't want her to look down upon others because she's a prep kid.

Bah. This is just one of those decisions that's going to be extremely difficult to make. I'm so torn because I love our family as it is. How selfish am I? :(

Ginny said...

It sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime but then again for p#1, it probably wouldn't matter much what school she goes to. She is already ahead of the pack and will probably stay that way.

I'm sure it's no easy decision, especially given the fact that you have a terrible illness that could cut your time with her shorter than planned. I don't blame you one bit for feeling selfish.

What does she really want to do?

Maggie Rosethorn said...

Very tough decision, Pmomma. I have not had to make that one till they went to college. It is still very hard to say good bye and let go, even when they are several years older than P#1.

But...one of my kid's friend did this. She is a fantastic athlete in a sport, and won a great scholarship to a school for her sport several states away. It was tough for her parents to let her go and tough for her to leave her friends. But she has loved it.

If P#1 wants to give it a try, I'd give her my blessings to at least try it. Is the contract for the full 4 years? Or can she go one year at a time. Making a decision for 4 years would be very hard, but if she can decide 1 year at a time, it might work out. And thank goodness for vacations :)

Good luck making the decision. And definitely congrats to P#1 for doing so wonderfully on the tests. We knew she was a super possum!

Anonymous said...

First can I say what a great blog this is. Reading with interest and more than a few chuckles.

Second, this is an amazing opportunity for your child. I was sent to boarding school in England from age 13 having never lived there, knowing nobody. I freely admit the first term was awful, but then I settled in and it was the making of me.

The most important things for me are:

1. You make friends for life. I'm not talking "buddies" you'll never see again after school but real, true friends who might scatter across the country/world but never truly be apart for the rest of their lives.

2. Adventures and escapades. Scaling round the side of a building at night 30 feet up dressed in black to raid the art exhibition wine supplies? Check! These are unforgettable experiences unavailable anywhere else, perhaps not as extreme as my example...

4. Facilities. My school provided me with pools, gyms, tennis courts, rifles, theatres, musical instruments. Whatever I was interested in, there was someone to encourage extracurricular activities. There are not enough hours in a day at a normal day-school for this.

5. Team sports. This is where you develop a passion for either playing for or supporting your team, whether a house team or the for the school against your bitter rivals. I think this is better across the board in the US, but in the UK unless you are at a private school this is non-existent.

6. Languages. Pick one. I learnt Russian which I still speak every day with my Russian wife after spending 10 years working there. Language is the gateway to a wider world.

7. Pride. She will be proud to have attended one of the best schools in the country.

Way down the list is education. Education is a product of two things, the level of enthusiasm of the teacher and the ability of the child. At a normal school, you roll the dice and if you're lucky you get an enthusiastic teacher one year, maybe an idiot the next year. Simple fact is at a fee-paying school you are more likely to find teachers who are enthusiastic. Not always, but much more likely.

Genetics and environment produce a child with ability (this is not the same as intelligence). Sounds like you have no problems there!

Now bear in mind that my father had to pay probably £100k for my education.

I think you owe it to P1 to encourage acceptance as much as possible. Don't force, but push as much as you can bear.

JS

PS In all honesty children with scholarships were not usually given a hard time at my school. Day attendees (picked up each evening) were ribbed mercilessly.

Poodles said...

PM,
You know your daughter better than anyone else besides herself. I think this is a decision you will need to reach together. She is old enough to know if it is something that might interest her, but maybe not be ready for the independence from her family.

What a great opportunity though. She seems smart and kind and will do well in life no matter what she chooses to do.

kay.eee.cee said...

I went away to boarding school for my junior and senior years in high school--I was fifteen. What followed was two incredibly difficult, amazing , life-changing years.

First of all, I'll second what anonymous said about making friends for life. Many of my boarding school friends still live together or hang out regularly now that we're in college. I bonded with some of the teachers the same way, and we still communicate via email. Making those kinds of connections made high school a much more intense and rewarding experience than I think it would have been otherwise, so I think that aspect alone was a major plus to the experience. The downside of that, of course, is that P1 will get probably get very attached pretty quickly, which will make it harder to leave if she's not happy, and will probably be hard on you, as it will be hard to see her bonding with a new "family".

Second point: boarding schools specifically for smart kids can be really challenging. She would have to be prepared and okay with the idea of maybe not always being the smarted in class, or maybe not getting all A's. Even if she is still on top in her new school, I can guarantee that the pressure on her will skyrocket.

Third: From previous things I've heard about P1, I don't think you have to worry too much about priveledge making her look down on people. The thing I would worry about is the pressure involved in that culture of priveledge-- kids are pushed to be pretty competitive, what college you go to is all-important, etc, etc. This is pretty easy to counteract though: make clear to her what your values are, and what you expect from her. Say it often and in no uncertain terms. Ask her what she's worried about and if she's stressed about things that in the long run are not important, talk that through with her. Boarding school can be a really insulating environment, and its easy to forget that there is a world beyond it where people care about other things than grades and colleges and high school drama. High school is that way anyways, boarding school is a million times worse. You just have to be prepared to be the counterbalance to that. The single thing that would have improved my high school experience more than anything would have been people telling me more that what you should learn in high school is how to be a happy, productive, educated person--being on top, or getting into the best school, are not the important things.

On emotional maturity... she probably isn't ready to go away to school, but I know plenty of people aren't ready at 18. It's rather hard to prepare for, and really the only way to know if she can make it is to try. If she adapts, it will because very quickly the environment there will make her change, grow up. By the first time she's home on break, it will probably already have changed her. In my experience those changes are mainly good, but it can be hard growing up so fast.

Finally, education. If your daughter came out first on an exam for a school like this, she is already so far ahead of the normal student her age that high school will probably be cake for her, unless your public school has a really amazing honors program. That's fine, she'll still learn the material and such, but it might mean that the first time she is seriously challenged academically is college. I think that it is better to face challenges earlier, because then you learn earlier how to work hard, and you don't have the mindset of "if I'm smart, that means everything should be easy for me" for as long. But that is kind of a personal opinion. There are other ways than boarding school to address that though. But as elitist as it may sound, there is an advantage to being around (at least for classes) the other 'smart' kids. It can get lonely without people to think with at the level that you think... kids P1's age that are as smart as her usually have to talk to adults to get that kind of interaction. Its nice to meet people ones own age that one can talk to about the books you're reading, the things you're thinking about, etc.

There is probably more I could say, but I've been babbling far too long. My suggestion? If she really really wants it, and you think you can handle letting your baby go, let her try. Just be ridiculously supportive, send care packages and call, and she'll probably make the adjustment just fine.

Betsy said...

As a teenager, I wanted very badly to go to a boarding school and my parents wouldn't hear of it. I think it's an awesome opportunity for P1! But I can see how difficult it would be to have her gone so much at such a young age. Good luck making the decision!

I did not get from reading the HP books that Dumbledore was gay! Were there hints? I am going to have to reread them now just to find the hints!

Kat said...

Going away to school is possibly one of the hardest things to do when you are young. I grew up as the kid of one of the house mothers for a private boarding school in my home town, albeit the school was for mostly troubled girls who were wards of the state.

Boarding schools are like most regular schools, problems with cliques, peer pressure, etc. If the school is especially small then the problems can be a bit worse but if you have a strong support system of friends you can make it through it.

I think P#1 would get the most out of her education there then in any public school system. I went to from private to public education during my high school education and I regret it everyday since. Even now as a teacher myself I wish I was teaching in a private school setting. The pay for teachers might be on a bit of the sucky side, but you have kids who want to be challenged, want to learn, and make the teachers actually have to work themselves in preparing lesson plans! Everyone benefits in the end, especially P1 who will have had the best education she could have possibly gotten.

I wouldn't worry about her coming snobby from the experience. You sound like you have a strong grip on reality and it will keep her grounded through out the entire experience.

Milo Johnson said...

If she wants to, let her try it. If it doesn't work out, there's no shame, education is a lifestyle, not a scheduled procedure.

The sad truth about Dumbeldore is that he stays single because he doesn't want to give anyone else his Hogwarts...

ShadesOfGrey said...

1) Congrats to P#1!!!

2) Sorry, no personal experience to share. Boarding school is what I threaten the kids with when they get on my last nerve, not something we've seriously contemplated.

But, I second what others said about asking her what she wants to do and how she feels about the whole thing. And what about a family discussion? Do the other kids have any input?

I also second what was said about not having to worry about her turning snobby. You've raised her too well so far, and that will stick.

3) Just read about Dumbledore this morning. Wow...once Rowling pointed it out, some of the clues were kind of obvious (not that I could have figured it out personally; I am pretty clueless as I mentioned in another post).

scaurus said...

Having attended boarding school (for my junior and senior years), taught in a public school for several years, and now attending grad school in the sciences, I can say that going to boarding school has a high probability of being a good thing for your daughter. In my case, it was the single most important decision of my life, starting me on a positive feedback loop of intellectual growth, giving me the opportunity to make lifelong (so far) friends from diverse walks of life (ie I moved from a monoculture to a metropolitan one), and leading to job and travel opportunities I could not have imagined for myself when I was in my hometown.

Even if most of the students are merely the children of the wealthy, the fact that the school has a scholarship program, even with just a few participants, means that your daughter will have peers of her intellectual caliber. If the school applies high academic standards to all student applicants, then so much the better. In such an environment, your daughter is more likely to find peers who match her emotional and intellectual development. She will have peers who can encourage and challenge her to learn deeper and faster. (caveat time: of course, academic success does not necessarily mean intellectual powerhouse and emotionally mature... still, it improves the odds. And so far, academic performance is what we have halfway reliable measurement tools for...)

Other people have commented on the academic opportunities of such an environment, and I will stress them again. The school is quite likely to have a larger number of good teachers than a public school - especially if it's a prestigious school. It has had decades of selection, retaining and cultivating good teachers (likely through a combination of salary, good work environment, and effective feedback and professional development). These teachers will have had the time to develop their particular loves into optional courses or extracurricular activities, opening up learning opportunities unavailable in all but the most extraordinary public schools. Beyond that, in the sciences, a prestigious boarding school is much more likely to be able to facilitate research internships for its students than a public high school. If your daughter has any interest in science, then such an opportunity should not be passed up - nothing fosters science reasoning like doing science.

On the issue of wanting to keep your daughter close, I can certainly understand that. My mother did not want me to leave for school, and maintained that position just about until I graduated (essentially, until the time she would have lost me to university anyway. Hrm, now that I think on it, she never did leave that position, even though I've lived 10 time zones away...). She missed me, she wanted to see me grow up, etc. But we learned how to have our relationship via telephone - that may sound cold and impersonal, but it's not. Our technology - the telephone, the internet, the airplane, even the older technologies of pen and paper - allow us the opportunity to maintain and grow our relationships without living in the same location. They allow us to pursue location-dependent opportunities, such as boarding school, university, and jobs.

While I don't have exact statistics on general happiness in life, terminal degrees, careers, etc. for the school I attended, I do know that respondents to a survey on the alumni website (about 30% of alumni over 20 years) overwhelmingly describe it as a great experience (only 2% gave it negative marks, and they who claim it was merely good or OK are ~20%. Then again, there's surely a self-selection effect, so take those results with a grain of salt.) See if this school you are looking at has a similar alumni association, where you can find similar information.

OK, I've prattled on long enough. In an attempt to make some sort of coherent statement, I'll pass on one of the few pieces of advice I've ever considered good enough to warrant the arrogance to spread: Maximize your options. If P1 wants to go to this school, or is even on the line, consider the doors opened in either path. Your local public school may be quite good, and open many doors (in the form of good education in the standard subjects, and even a few non-standard ones). But will the boarding school open any new doors (possibly unexpected or ones we are loathe to value, such as the opportunity to learn how to socialize with the rich, which may prove useful down the line when, say, trying to raise venture capital)? P1 is likely to change her mind many times about her education and career path (people, in general, change their minds early and often), so the more doors she has available, the better.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

We are going round-and-round on this. For every pro, we think of a con.

Shades of Grey brought up another really relevant point: the other kids. We're such a tight family that I have no doubt that the little ones would miss her tremendously. Especially, P4. And, I think P2 would be equally sad to see her go. P1 and P2 have been best buddies all of their lives - they're only 17 months apart. I also worry about what message this will send to P2, who is gifted in his own right, but...not going to be offered boarding school. I worry that he'll feel like second fiddle. And, he's so amazing in other ways that I want to be careful about what we set as the bar for success. Life can't JUST be about getting into a good school.

Oh...what does P1 think of all of this?
Well... we've kind of kept the discussion low key. I don't think it's in her best interest that she know the monetary value of this scholarship. I don't want her to feel pressured to go simply because it's expensive, kwim? I will say that, after looking at the school's site, she was less excited than I thought she'd be. There's a program that all Freshman have to do involving large animal care and she just has no desire to be near the particular animal in question. But, on a postive side (for her), they have tons of cool course offerings. She made the comment that it would be "like summer camp, with air conditioning." LOL I don't know if she gets that she wouldn't come home on weekends.
*sigh* Thanks for all the input. It's great to have all of this feedback.

Klaxor said...

Can I just say that boarding school is not that routine in England. I'm not sure if you know someone over here who went/kids who go, or if you're going with the "quaint old england" view...but I don't know anyone!
There is one school that I know of that some of the kids board at, but it's a catholic school, and therefore doesn't really count in my eyes. If they didn't offer that option, the school would almost be empty. (Religion not being as big over here. I can count the people i know that go to church on one hand).

As for P#1, well done for getting such an offer. However in my opinion, a "normal" school would be just as good.
Whilst surrounding herself with people of her own ability/intelligence is nice, allowing her to meet people from all walks of life (with various ranges of abilities) may prove more beneficial in the long term.
As you said, P#2 may not be offered such a place at boarding school, meaning P#1 would not get to socialise with such people there. People have a wide range of abilities, and such prestigious schools appear only to concentrate on a few.

I don't know how the schools are over your side of the Atlantic, but regular schools should be able to cope with P#1 if she shows ability above and beyond her classmates. A good school won't let her coast along without achieving anything worthwhile.

I may be wrong, I don't know the US school system at all, but if it was the UK, I'd recommend a regular school all the way!

Kathryn said...

This is so awesome. Frankly, had I been given the chance,I'd have jumped at it. And at the time, I was a very shy, introverted person. I'd still have gone.

Emotionally, you might think she's not ready, but she'll be the same age as the other freshmen, right? So there will be some more, and some less, emotionally mature. I'm sure she'll do fine.

She's had a GREAT upbringing and has great values instilled in her already. Whether you let go now or four years later, those values will carry her.

The other kids might miss her but will be okay. P2 might actually shine more in some ways, with her gone.

Just my thoughts, I have no experience with this kind of thing.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Actually, Kathryn, P1 is a year younger than her grade-level peers. She skipped the second grade, as she was "too advanced" for it. So, while the other Freshman would be 14, she will have just turned 13.

Klaxor, schools here in the States vary widely. California isn't the greatest state to get a public education. The immigration issues in our county have made primary school almost a joke. Because of laws regarding English Language Learners, a significant chunk of time has been removed from the general core day and it was deemed unconstitutional to teach the native English speaking kids any core curriculum during the times when ELL kids are getting English education. It's 20,000 ways of screwed up. BUT, there is another program that we're looking at (it's local). It's an honors program wherein the cohort is made up of children who believe they may want to attend medical school. The curriculum is science heavy and there are opportunities to take class at the Uni, for these kids. So, if we don't choose the boarding school, we'll probably go with that program.

Gramomster said...

Congrats to P#1! This would be a terribly difficult decision to make. I know one young woman who did horribly in her freshman year at our local advanced college-prep public school. Even there, she was unchallenged, and the courses were so rigorously dedicated to the academic that one had to be a junior in good standing to take art as an elective. Yuck. Then, she went to boarding school on the other side of the state... from failing 9th, she's about to graduate with a 4.3, and has loved every minute there.

We have a 15 year old son who skipped, so was a year younger than his classmates. We could not find a program here that addressed his needs (he spent 3 years in aforementioned advanced school, but also took a nosedive in freshman year and was released. Wanted to do art, wanted to express more creativity in art and independence in thought than was encouraged...public school is still public school), and is now an autodidact (learning on his own what he finds interesting... largely science, art, and social justice), and we'll put him in the community college next year at 16. Our daughter is in CC this year, at 17. She'd be a high school senior, but again, public is our only option, and it sucks here.
Fortunately in MI, a GED is unnecessary. If they've been homeschooled, they take placement tests and that is that. So, for us, that option is the most reasonable. If my kid had gotten a scholarship to a really good boarding school, however, we'd have jumped on it.

Another observation is that bored, bright kids usually is bad news. They will find something to interest/excite them, and it's usually nothing good. The older they get, the less control/input parents have.

I do want to suggest too that, while P#2 may not get the same opportunities, that really shouldn't carry too much weight in your decisions regarding P#1. What is right for her and what is right for him are different things, and to not take advantage of an opportunity for her based on a possibility that he will feel left out at some point will do her no good. Girls have enough social messages that they are to think of others, and sacrifice things that will enrich and benefit themselves for the comfort of others. Yes, he'd miss her, as would the other possums, but what is best for her must be the top concern, not how the others would feel.

I lived my own life from the 'how will this affect my sibs and mother' perspective until I was 35. Opportunities I passed up were numerous. Maybe if I hadn't got in that thinking mode in my teens, I would've been done with grad school long before 42. Like, I don't know, maybe in my 20s!

Soooooo many sides to things, and for sure for every pro there is a con. I wish you the best, and I second (third? fouth?) what has been stated by several, and is clearly obvious... You are raising amazing kids. She has overwhelming odds to being just dandy whatever you decide. Clearly the decisions are made with lots of consideration, and that counts for a lot.

Good luck!
Peace

Allyson said...

Frankly, had I been given the chance,I'd have jumped at it. And at the time, I was a very shy, introverted person. I'd still have gone.

Me too! But my parents wouldn't hear of it.

In college, I knew a couple of kids who had been to boarding schools through all of high school, if not before. And they weren't stuck up or snobby; they were as "normal" as the rest of us. Although in many ways, they were much more mature, too. Not too mature, so that they couldn't relate to their peers. But they were used to doing things for themselves.

Lynn's Daughter said...

I can't comment on the bording part..but oe of my mother's biggest regrets was not sending me to a private school when she could. It would have been a great beginning to academics, and I would have been surrounded and challenged by other intelligent people with thoughtful parents, and perhaps I wouldn't have gotten sick of boring, mundane school and run screaming from academics when I was 18. Just MHO.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Opinion noted. ;)

You guys wouldn't believe how much time DH and I have devoted to talking about this. And, we still don't have the "right answer". It's so hard.

On one hand, she's brilliant and I am scared that the lack of stimulation and like peers could result in her being bored. On the other hand, we've made it work this far. We've always ponied up for the extras (projects, materials, experiences) because we know she loves the sciences. BUT, like I was telling the DH, she's quickly escaping our ability to provide some of those things. Example: science fair is in three months. They're supposed to write down ten experiments they'd like to do. Eight of her ten would involve the use of serious lab equipment that we just don't have. So...what do we do? Do we make her stick with simple because that's all we've got?

On the other hand, DH and I have been taking mental notes about how she reacts to situations. She went all hormonal on us last night because her sister got into her room. It was all screechy and whiney. So, while it would get the whiney teenager out of our house, I have to wonder how she would navigate highly emotional times away from the family. She also sucks at time management. She's one of those deep thinkers who will be doing an equation and then she'll just kind of tune out and spend five minutes contemplating other ways to solve the problem. We have to bring her back to earth and remind her that she still has thirty problems to do. We've tried everything from egg timers to having her do the work in a room where we are so we can catch her before she zones off too far. What will she do when there's no one to keep tabs on her? I know all parents have to face this one, but...not at 12/13. If she were 17/18, I'd say it was time for her to grow up. But, I don't want her childhood to be this time in her life when it was all work and no play. I *love* that she zones out and has these bizarre thoughts. It's endearing. Some dorm mom might not find it so endearing. I don't want them to extinguish some of the flames that make Lexi, Lexi. KWIM?

I dunno'. I just keep telling myself that we have time to make this decision. The response date is Feb 1. So, we'll see how she matures over the next few months.

Terra said...

P-Momma,

I keep thinking about this situation and trying to decide if I have anything to add. I keep thinking about two situations in my own life that may be related. The first is when I was in college. For monetary reasons, I didn't make it to a university until my junior year (two years at CCs before that) and then I was in the dorms for two years. (one year here in Oregon, one year abroad.) I LOVED being in the dorms. So much so, that I remember thinking that I was sad I hadn't gone before because my time was going to be so short. Mind you, I was a lot older than Lexi at that point, but she seems very mature for her age.

Here's my opinion: If she can try it out for a semester or a year, I'd say you owe it to yourselves to give it a go. If you find it just doesn't work for her for any of the reasons mentioned, she can come home and go back to public school. I know you said you don't want her to feel pressured by the money and I completely agree, but it really is a fantastic opportunity. One that certainly doesn't come around every day...

If she's truly that interested in the sciences, she needs somewhere that can feed that. Not that you guys aren't doing the absolute best you can, obviously, but if she has an opportunity to get the same kind of science education that other people are paying large sums of money for, why not?

I'll leave you with one other thought. When I was studying abroad, my father passed away. I came home for two weeks to be with my family and then went back. As I was waiting for my plane to go back, I was almost in tears because I didn't want to leave my family. I did, partly because I knew my father was very excited for me to be studying abroad and I believe it's what he would have wanted. I am SO happy I made that decision. It was one of the hardest of my life and even though it didn't "feel" like the one I wanted to make, in my head, I knew it was right. And it was.

I tell you this because someone else mentioned Lexi leaving home and not seeing you as much and how this decision would be doubly hard for your family with your health being what it is. I understand and even agree with that sentiment, to some extent. However, I think sometimes the decision that "feels" right (staying home with family as opposed to striking out on one's own) could end up being the wrong one. I'm sure Lexi and I aren't the exact same, so my experiences may not be of any use to you, but every time I think of this decision that you guys are trying to make, I keep coming back to those two anecdotes from my own life.

I wish you luck. Oh, and one last thing: communication ain't what it used to be (Thank science/technology!) With email, cheap cell phone plans, etc, Lexi can be in touch with you guys within seconds. Hell, my dad even started emailing me when I was studying abroad.

Erp said...

Few thoughts

1. You probably want to visit the school with P#1 and ask to meet some of the students and some of the dorm supervisors. Ask whether other younger than usual students attend. Talk to some alumni possibly even some who were also on scholarship.

2. People react differently to boarding school. My mother hated her school so her parents allowed her to go to a local school after one year but one of her sisters loved the same boarding school.

3. You might find it interesting to glance over some OFSTED reports on English boarding schools (the government inspects all schools state and private). It may give some ideas on what to ask or look for. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

PM,

No experience to base this on. But you can try it out surely? Is it possible to send her to stay with relatives for an extended period of time, get her used to being away from the immediate family, observe how she reacts/handles things?

Zipi said...

I have no experience with boarding school. However, I was a kid that was way too advanced for his age, and neither my parents nor my country's education system had the right resources for it. I resent it (the situation on itself, not my parents) to this day. As an adult, I have worked for years for a program that involves students who are likely among the very most talented high-schoolers in mathematics in America (I am not exaggerated the least). I have seen the difference that having the right resources can make for them. On some occasions it is literally life-changing.

Having supportive and educated parents helps who care about their children's education helps. Coming from a loving home helps. But it is not enough. I strongly encourage Possum1 to consider it.

You can present it to her like this. Does she want to stay in a school where she is easily number 1? Or does she want to be in a school where she will be challenged, where she will be led to achieve her maximum potential, where she will have peers as smart or smarter than her, peers with whom she will be able to work as equals, and from whom and with whom she will be able to learn? This is not a rethoric question. If she chooses the second option, she should consider it.

If you want me to expand on my comments feel free to send me an email.

Bagpuss said...

I don't normally comment on your blog, I know - but just wanted to point out that boarding school is not actually that common in England... only for the very rich. That's all. ;)