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Day versus boarding school

By | February 12th 2011

Both are effective in producing good results in children. But before you choose, weigh your options carefully, writes JOHN MUTURI

Before students sat for their KCPE last year, we had a successful service for the candidates in our church. We had invited a prominent personality who has done this country proud while working in various sectors.

He attended Alliance Boys High School and all his three sons also attended the school. His wife attended neighbouring Alliance Girls and their two daughters followed suit. That was good enough until I perceive his veiled insinuation that boarding schools were better than day schools.

In reality, there is no rule of thumb on the better option between the two, as both are effective in producing good results in terms of academics, extra-curricular, social interactions and so forth. In deed, the kind of school you chose and the exposure it provides to your child defines the child, according to counselling psychologist, Veronica Irungu. Both boarding and day school have their advantages and disadvantages.

For instance, the unique side of a boarding school is that it is a self-contained community where pupils not only study, but also live with their fellow pupils and teachers during the school term. This makes it a good place for a child to meet new people, get close to them and also have fun. In deed, daily coexistence leads to friendships, not just among pupils and students, but also with teachers and other staff. She will learn valuable lessons about tolerance and diversity in the process. Thus teaching and learning, does not stop just outside the classroom.

Sense of responsibility

Furthermore, boarding school instils in a child a sense of responsibility and discipline that is of importance for their overall development. Additionally, in boarding, studies are more blended with other activities, such as sports thereby increasing the child appeal of both pursuits.

The schools are also known to help in the development of children’s communication and social skills. The boarding atmosphere is deemed to be conducive for learning as well as recreation. This helps a child to learn to be independent and to deal with difficult and tough situations on their own.

Psychologist Irungu says boarding school is an option for parents who find it difficult to give extra-care and time to their child as a result of challenges of their routine-for instance, those who travel away from home a lot.

At the same time, since you pay more money for your child in a boarding school, chances are that the quality of learning may be better. Moreover, safety of children in boarding school is generally higher and they also face fewer harmful distractions.

The downside

It is not easy for a child to leave behind her father, mother, siblings, her room at home and the general environment for boarding school. They may feel unloved, the reason they have been dumped in boarding school as a way of getting rid of them. They may suffer rejection and its consequences hence wiping out the expected benefits.

Your child may be highly dependent on other people, especially her siblings and parents. Taking her to a boarding school means visiting her probably once in a term. If she is incapable of coping with the absence of her parents and siblings, it might lead to unpleasant academic and psychological consequences.

Often, some children end up misusing the freedom provided by boarding school situation to get into harmful addictions like smoking, drinking or drugs. If the school is prone to unpleasant experiences like bullying, it can erode her self-confidence and derail her overall development.

Children have different disposition, some may require constant tuition, especially from their parents when they are growing up. If the boarding school of choice doesn’t offer personalised tuition programs the child’s performance will be affected.

Day school

There are parents who will not let their child stay away from home especially in their early age. They want to exercise their parenting skills on a daily basis and day school offers them the opportunity.

At the same time, there are children who don’t like being away from their parents or their friends and day school works better for them.

According to psychologist Irungu apart from playing her full-time parenting role for a child in day schooling, a parent will also be able to supervise the child on duties such as making his or her bed, tidying their rooms, ironing and other chores.

The parent also provides moral guidance and in total prepare the child for future independence, development and interaction with others in adult life. Moreover, there are aspects of learning that a child can only get from the family unit as she grows up. She misses out on these lessons if she is taken to boarding school especially in the formative years.

Parents with children in day school generally pay less without compromising the standard of education. Parents also have an opportunity to choose a tuition centre of their choice for their children unlike in boarding schools where tuition is offered in-house.

The fact that day school provides more teacher-parent interaction facilitating discussion on the pupils performance or other problems that may arise at any time is deemed a big plus.

Day school means you have to organise for transport by either dropping your child or using public transport if the school does not provide transportation service at an extra cost. This often poses a challenge to parents.

In order to make an informed decision, you need to compare the pros and cons of boarding and day schools carefully since both have merits and distinctive features.

Your requirements will determine which one works best for you because at the end of the day, each child is different.

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