Should I Send My Child to Boarding School?

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

  • What is boarding school and what are the benefits of attending one?
  • How do you choose the right boarding school for your child?
  • What are the costs associated with boarding school and how can you afford it?

Deciding whether you should send your child to boarding school is a difficult decision. Most parents will not choose a boarding school over one of their local schools, so the fact that you are considering this as an option means that you understand at least some of the benefits.

There are some downsides to consider as well though, and the best choice for your family will depend on your specific situation. It is an important decision to make and can make an impact on your child for the rest of their life, so it is well worth taking the time to weigh up the pros and cons.

What is boarding school and what are the benefits of attending one?

Boarding school is a type of school where students live for a period of time. There are a couple of different types of boarding schools; in some schools, students will stay at the school during the week and come home on the weekends. In other boarding schools, students will stay at the school during the term and come home for the holidays.

Boarding schools have a proud tradition in many Western countries, and so often have a more traditional educational approach. Because of these traditions and legacy as well as the additional costs associated with housing and feeding their boarders, boarding schools are often quite expensive.

There are many reasons why you might want to choose a boarding school for your child. These range from the benefits of attending a high-quality, prestigious boarding school to doing so out of necessity for those families living overseas or in very remote areas.

How do you choose the right boarding school for your child?

The most important factor in choosing the right boarding school for your child is whether or not they will be happy there.

Many students do struggle with boarding school because they become homesick1, and any well-being or bullying problems that your child may face can become exponentially worse when they are around their peers full time. It is important to make sure that your child is aware of and prepared for what boarding school means.

Most boarding schools in Australia are typically day schools with boarding facilities. This means that students will only board during the week and come home on weekends. This can be a great option for students who are prone to getting homesick but is not always feasible for every student.

You may want to prioritise a boarding school that you know has a particular culture or reputation, or a school where your child already knows other students or has some family members living nearby. You are likely to also want to include the reputation and academic outcomes of the school in your decision, as well as the cost.

What are the costs associated with boarding school and how can you afford it?

The cost of boarding school is one of the biggest considerations for parents. With all of the additional facilities and expenses as well as supervision requirements, even a modest boarding school can be significantly more expensive than sending your child to a day school.

Scholarships can be a great option for many students who are academically accomplished. Many boarding schools offer a range of full and partial scholarships for academically gifted students. Depending on the school and your circumstances, you may also be able to access bursaries, financial aid, and flexible payment options.

Despite what you may think, sending your child to a boarding school abroad can also be more affordable than sending them to a school more locally. There are many boarding schools in countries such as the UK, Canada, and the US that offer cheaper rates than those found in other countries such as Australia.

This is mostly due to the fact that there are more boarding schools in these countries so their prices need to be more competitive; it does not mean that there is a lower standard for quality.

How does boarding school affect a child’s social life and development?

Boarding schools offer a range of benefits for the students who board there. These exact benefits will depend on your child and your unique situation, but there are academic, social, and emotional benefits to attending a boarding school.

Some studies have found that in reality, there is no significant difference in outcomes between boarders and the day students of any particular boarding school, although the results were slightly in favour of the boarders.2 This is an average and means that boarding school may not have the best results for everyone.

This is why it is very important that you carefully consider whether your child is prepared to attend boarding school and that it is the best option for them. With little difference between the boarders and the day students at the same school, you may find it more worthwhile to send your child to a good school that is close enough to home that they don’t have to board as opposed to putting them through the stress of boarding school when they aren’t ready for it.

Should you send your children to boarding school?

The decision of whether or not to send your child to boarding school is a very personal one and needs to be carefully considered by both you and your child. There is no right or wrong answer, and the best decision for your family will depend on your unique situation.

If you are considering boarding school for your child, you should definitely do your research on the specific boarding school that your child would be attending to find out more information.

The most valuable information will come from your child though; if they are not ready or do not want to attend boarding school, they may be put into a situation where they need to be a lot more independent and build skills that they have never used before in an environment where they are not comfortable, happy, or possibly even adequately supported.

What are your thoughts on boarding school? Have you considered it for your child? If you went to boarding school yourself, what was making that decision like? Leave your reply in the comments below!


1Fisher, S., Frazer, N., & Murray, K. (1986). Homesickness and health in boarding school children. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 6(1), 35-47.

2Martin, A. J., Papworth, B., Ginns, P., & Liem, G. A. D. (2014). Boarding school, academic motivation and engagement, and psychological well-being: A large-scale investigation. American Educational Research Journal, 51(5), 1007-1049.

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