When Nilesh Sharma completed Class 7, his parents wanted to send him to a boarding school. They believed that exposure to life experiences at a residential institution would make their son a better person. At first, Nilesh was shocked. He didn’t want to leave his parents and his home. But after much discussion, he understood his parents’ reasoning, and accepted their decision. Being a Harry Potter fan helped too! He wanted to experience the kind of excitement the boy wizard enjoyed at Hogwarts.
“It is quite natural that children are startled when their parents first tell them they want to send them to hostel. This is purely due to separation anxiety,” says Sathya Suresh, a child psychologist from Bengaluru. “But, as a psychologist, I feel the experience will help children in the long run. Studying in a boarding school has a whole lot of benefits. It plays a major role in shaping a child’s personality and character, in addition to making him a strong and confident individual,” she adds.
Ticking all the right boxes
Apart from offering a holistic learning opportunity to children, hostels also provide solutions to practical parenting problems faced by today’s nuclear families. Shanti Krishnamurthy, Principal of Chinmaya International Residential School, Coimbatore, says “Today, both parents work and are unable to spend time with their children. In a good number of homes, children are taken care of by chaperones. So, it is difficult to ensure that children imbibe values as they grow up. Many parents are not even aware of the strengths of their children because they are investing in the education and not in the child. This is where hostels help - they prepare children for life and not for exams or grades.”
But, in spite of all this, is it easy for parents to admit their children in hostels? “Absolutely not,” says Shiva Kumar, a professional photographer from Chennai. “When I wanted to send my son to a boarding school in Ooty, he initially resisted. He just couldn’t accept the fact that he will be staying away from home. However, he subsequently gave in and I enrolled him in the school. Now he thanks me for taking that decision. I can see a huge positive transformation in my son’s attitude and character. He has certainly grown into an extremely confident young man over these two years.” Kumar says.
The diverse learning opportunities in the hostel life are something a normal day school can never offer. A student who stays in a hostel gets a chance to live along with his friends as a community, learning by exploring, accepting and overcoming the challenges of life, and growing up in a thoroughly professional and disciplined environment.
With the number of affordable residential institutions growing across the country, this is the right time to make your child understand that hostel life can do her a world of good.
*10 reasons why boarding schools or hostels are better than day schools
1. Children passing out from boarding schools are far more responsible and independent. Such a level of development is not possible in day schooling due to parental pressures or pampering at home.
2. Hostel life experience is wholesome and children get multiple learning opportunities, be it in academics or extra-curricular activities. At home, parents need to spend a lot of time and effort to provide opportunities to hone these skills in children.
3. There are restrictions in a boarding school that prevent children from indulging in time-wasting pastimes such as viewing television, using mobile phones, playing computer games, etc. These are major distractions today for children at home. With open access to violence and sex on television at home, there’s every possibility of the young minds getting corrupted; but in hostels, television viewing is supervised.
4. Unnecessary distractions at home result in children. finding it difficult to concentrate on studies. In boarding schools, it is possible for children to give their focussed attention to studies.
5. Following creative pursuits such as photography, music or drama becomes easier for students in hostels since most offer special training to interested children.
6. Sports and fitness regimens are mandatory aspects of boarding school life and do wonders for the physical and mental health of children.
7. The infrastructure in a boarding school is usually a lot better than day schools. Be it the library or laboratory, they always offer the best in terms of quality.
8. The community living experience offered in a hostel teaches children to be tolerant towards others.
9. As hostels insist on strict codes of conduct children are more disciplined.
10. Hostels offer the experience of taking care of oneself and doing one’s own chores. They foster independent decision-making. The child becomes more self-confident as a result.
*10 things to do before sending your child to a hostel
1. Moving to a hostel is a major shift in your child’s life and it needs some preparation. It is always good to begin with a healthy conversation with your child to make him understand the immense benefits of studying in a boarding school and how it will make him a better individual. This will also give you the opportunity to find out if your child has any particular concerns.
2. The child should not feel that she is being sent to a hostel as a punishment. Very often parents do give that impression. If the child does not study or behave well, she is threatened with being sent to a boarding school. This is not the right approach. And, mind you, such children will never be able to settle down in a residential institution.
3. Ask any of your relatives or friends who have been to a hostel to share their experiences with your child. A first-hand account from someone he knows will build your child’s confidence. Also, telling your child about some prominent personalities who were products of boarding schools is a great way to boost his morale.
4. Once your child is convinced, move on to preparing her for the routines of a hostel, like waking up early in the morning, keeping her room clean and following a schedule every day. This will help her easily adapt to the school’s requirements.
5. Choosing the right hostel is the most vital step in the process. There’s no harm in spending many days weighing the pros and cons of different hostels before choosing the one that suits your child best.
6. The most important attribute of a boarding school is people with real concern for the welfare of the children. Parents need to try and find out how good the teaching faculty and administrative staff of the school are. They should also make sure they understand the value systems of the school before enrolling their children there.
7. Parents need to check the infrastructure of the school and the hostel, and make sure they are in top condition. The school should also be located at a place that is easily accessible by any means of transportation.
8. Once you pick a school, take a tour of the campus along with your child to check the facilities he’s going to have during his stay. Let him personally examine all amenities that the school has to offer. That will make him more enthusiastic and excited about joining the school.
9. When moving to the school, let your child take her favourite toys, pillows, family photos, etc., with her. These little things play a huge role in driving away homesickness.
10. It’s very important that your child develops confidence and courage to take this transition head-on. Motivate him with the assurance that the family is behind him at all times. Also, make sure you keep in constant touch with him through phone calls, text messages, snail mail and e-mail.
*Based on inputs from Shanti Krishnamurthy, Principal, Chinmaya International Residential School, Coimbatore
India’s top boarding schools
- Sahyadri School, Pune
- Rishi Valley School, Chittoor
- Chinmaya International Residential School, Coimbatore
- Rajghat Besant School, Varanasi
- Assam Valley School, Balipara
- Jain International Residential School, Bengaluru
- Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School, Prasanthi Nilayam, Puttaparthi
- Sherwood College, Nanital
- New Era High School, Panchgani
- Orchid International School, Nashik
- Lawrence School, Ooty
- The Doon School, Dehradun
- Bishop Cotton School, Shimla
- Welham Boys’ School, Dehradun
- Mayo College, Ajmer
- The Scindia School, Gwalior
- Sarala Birla Academy, Bengaluru
- Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun
- Birla Public School, Pilani
- St Joseph's School, North Point, Darjeeling
- Birla Vidya Mandir, Nainital
- Welham Girls’ School, Dehradun
- Mayo College Girls School, Ajmer
- Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya, Gwalior
- Unison World School, Dehradun
- Ecole Globale International Girls School, Dehradun
- Ashok Hall Girls’ Residential School, Ranikhet
- Vidya Devi Jindal School, Hisar
- Mussoorie International School, Mussoorie
- Shah Satnam Ji Girls School, Sirsa
- Mody School, Lakshmangarh
- Hopetown Girls’ School, Dehradun
- Birla Balika Vidyapeeth, Pilani
These famous people went to boarding school
- Amitav Ghosh – Writer
- Abhinav Bindra – Shooter
- Bunker Roy – Social Activist
- Ruskin Bond – Writer
- Jeev Milkha Singh – Golfer
- Maneka Gandhi – Politician
- Deepa Mehta – Film Director
- Brinda Karat – Politician
- Vir Sanghvi – Journalist
- Amir Sayani – Radio Broadcaster
- Charu Sharma – Sports Commentator
- Tarun Tahiliani – Fashion Designer
- Naveen Patnaik – Politician
- Salman Khan – Actor
- Tenzing Norgay – Mountaineer
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