Sending a 6-year-old away to boarding school is a big decision that requires careful thought and consideration. In this comprehensive guide, we will examine the pros and cons, explore what to look for in boarding schools, provide tips for preparing a 6-year-old for boarding school, and offer advice for parents trying to decide if boarding school is the right choice.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Boarding school can be a good option for some 6-year-olds, but it really depends on the individual child’s personality, maturity level, and family circumstances.

With the right boarding school and preparation, it can be a rewarding experience that builds independence and teaches important life skills.

The Potential Benefits of Boarding School for Young Children

Boarding school can be a controversial topic, especially when it comes to young children. However, there are several potential benefits that should be considered when evaluating whether boarding school is a good idea for 6-year-olds.

Immersion in academics

One of the potential benefits of boarding school for young children is the immersion in academics. Boarding schools often provide a rigorous academic curriculum that focuses on not only traditional subjects like math and science, but also on critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.

This immersion in academics can help young children develop a strong foundation for future success.

Development of independence

Another potential benefit of boarding school for 6-year-olds is the development of independence. Living away from home at a young age can help children learn to be self-reliant, responsible, and independent.

They learn to manage their time, take care of their belongings, and make decisions on their own. This early development of independence can have long-lasting positive effects on their personal and professional lives.

Opportunities for personal growth

Boarding school provides young children with numerous opportunities for personal growth. They are exposed to a diverse range of extracurricular activities, such as sports, arts, and clubs, which can help them discover their passions and talents.

Additionally, living in a close-knit community with other students and faculty members fosters the development of social skills, empathy, and leadership abilities. These experiences can contribute to a well-rounded education and personal growth.

Exposure to diverse environments

Lastly, boarding school exposes young children to diverse environments. They interact with students from different cultural, social, and economic backgrounds, which helps them develop an appreciation for diversity and a broader perspective on the world.

This exposure can enhance their ability to navigate and thrive in an increasingly globalized society.

While the decision to send a 6-year-old to boarding school should be carefully considered, it is important to acknowledge the potential benefits that such an experience can offer. Immersion in academics, development of independence, opportunities for personal growth, and exposure to diverse environments are all factors that can contribute to a child’s overall development and future success.

The Potential Drawbacks of Boarding School for Young Children

Homesickness and separation anxiety

One of the major concerns when considering boarding school for 6-year-olds is the potential for homesickness and separation anxiety. Young children may find it difficult to adjust to being away from their parents and familiar surroundings for extended periods of time.

This can lead to feelings of sadness, loneliness, and anxiety, which can impact their overall well-being and academic performance.

According to a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who experience homesickness are more likely to experience difficulties with sleep, concentration, and emotional regulation.

It is important for parents and educators to provide emotional support and reassurance to help children cope with these challenges.

Lack of parental involvement

Another drawback of boarding school for young children is the potential lack of parental involvement in their day-to-day lives. While boarding schools often have dedicated staff and resources to support students, the absence of parents can lead to a sense of disconnection and hinder the development of a strong parent-child relationship.

Research has shown that parental involvement is crucial for a child’s academic success and overall well-being. Parents play a vital role in providing emotional support, guidance, and encouragement. Without regular face-to-face interactions, it can be challenging for parents to stay actively involved in their child’s education and personal growth.

Adjusting to a highly structured environment

Boarding schools typically have highly structured routines and schedules, which may be overwhelming for young children who are still learning to navigate the world around them. The transition from a more flexible and relaxed home environment to a strict daily routine can be challenging for some children.

In a highly structured environment, children may feel pressured to conform to rules and expectations, which can limit their creativity and self-expression. It is important for boarding schools to strike a balance between structure and allowing children to explore their interests and develop their own unique identities.

Coping with academic pressure

Boarding schools often have rigorous academic programs that place a strong emphasis on achievement and performance. While this can provide excellent educational opportunities, it can also create significant pressure and stress for young children.

According to a study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, excessive academic pressure can lead to increased levels of stress, anxiety, and even depression in children. It is important for boarding schools to create a supportive and nurturing environment that promotes a healthy balance between academic excellence and overall well-being.

For more information on boarding schools and their impact on young children, you can visit websites such as Boarding School Review or National Association of Independent Schools.

Factors to Consider When Evaluating Boarding Schools

Academic philosophy and curriculum

One of the most important factors to consider when evaluating boarding schools for 6-year-olds is the academic philosophy and curriculum followed by the school. Different schools may have different approaches to education, such as traditional or progressive methods.

Parents should research and understand the school’s teaching methods to ensure they align with their child’s learning style and goals.

Student-teacher ratios

The student-teacher ratio is another crucial factor to consider. A low student-teacher ratio ensures that each child receives individual attention and support. It allows teachers to understand the unique needs and abilities of each student, fostering a nurturing and productive learning environment.

Parents should inquire about the average class size and the number of teachers available to ensure their child receives adequate attention.

Social and emotional support

Young children need a supportive and nurturing environment to thrive. When evaluating boarding schools, parents should consider the social and emotional support provided to students. This includes programs that promote socialization, emotional well-being, and mental health services.

It is essential for children to feel safe, cared for, and supported in their emotional development.

Communication with parents

Effective communication between the school and parents is vital for the well-being and progress of the child. Parents should inquire about the school’s communication policies, including how frequently and through what means they will be updated on their child’s academic and personal development.

Open and transparent communication ensures that parents are involved in their child’s education and can address any concerns or queries in a timely manner.

Weekend and holiday policies

Boarding schools often have different policies regarding weekends and holidays. Some schools may allow students to go home every weekend, while others may have more restrictive policies. It is important for parents to consider these policies and assess how they align with their family’s needs and preferences.

For some families, the ability to spend weekends and holidays together may be crucial in their decision-making process.

Accreditation and credentials

When evaluating boarding schools, it is essential to consider their accreditation and credentials. Accreditation ensures that the school meets certain standards of quality and adherence to educational guidelines.

Parents should research the accrediting bodies and verify the school’s credentials to ensure they are sending their child to a reputable institution. This information can often be found on the school’s website or by contacting the administration.

Is Your Child Ready for Boarding School?

Deciding whether to send your 6-year-old to boarding school is a big decision that requires careful consideration. While boarding school can provide a unique educational experience, it is important to assess your child’s readiness for this type of environment. Here are some factors to consider:

Emotional maturity and independence

Boarding school requires a certain level of emotional maturity and independence. Children who thrive in this setting are typically able to handle being away from home and are comfortable with the idea of living in a communal environment.

They should be able to manage their emotions independently and have a good understanding of their own needs.

Ability to adapt to new environments

Adapting to a new environment can be challenging for children, especially at a young age. Consider whether your child has had previous experiences with being away from home, such as sleepovers or summer camps.

If they have successfully adapted to these situations, they may be more likely to adjust well to boarding school.

Level of responsibility and organizational skills

Boarding school requires students to take on a higher level of responsibility and organizational skills compared to traditional day schools. Children who are able to manage their time effectively, keep track of their belongings, and take care of their personal needs without constant supervision may be better suited for this type of educational setting.

Comfort being away from family

One of the biggest challenges of boarding school is being away from family for extended periods of time. Consider how your child handles separation from you and other family members. If they are comfortable being away from home and have a strong support system in place, they may be more prepared to handle the emotional aspects of boarding school.

It is important to remember that every child is unique and what works for one child may not work for another. Ultimately, the decision to send your 6-year-old to boarding school should be based on their individual needs, readiness, and your own family circumstances.

Preparing Your 6-Year-Old for Boarding School

Visit prospective schools together

One of the best ways to prepare your 6-year-old for boarding school is to involve them in the decision-making process. Take the time to visit prospective schools together and allow them to explore the campus and meet the teachers.

This will help them feel more comfortable with the idea of leaving home and give them a sense of ownership over their education. Additionally, visiting different schools will allow you to find the one that best aligns with your child’s needs and interests.

Practice short separations

Before your child starts boarding school, it’s important to practice short separations to help them adjust to being away from home. Start by leaving them with a trusted family member or friend for a few hours and gradually increase the duration of these separations.

This will help your child build resilience and develop the confidence to handle longer periods of time away from you.

Establish communication habits

Communication is key when it comes to maintaining a strong connection with your child while they are at boarding school. Set up regular times to talk or video chat with your child, so they know they can count on hearing from you regularly.

Additionally, encourage them to share their experiences and feelings with you, so you can provide the necessary support and guidance. Remember, staying connected will help ease any homesickness your child may experience.

Get excited about the adventures ahead

Boarding school offers a unique opportunity for your 6-year-old to experience new adventures and grow both academically and personally. Help them get excited about the opportunities that await them by talking about the fun activities, new friends, and learning experiences they will have.

By focusing on the positive aspects of boarding school, you can alleviate any anxieties your child may have and foster a sense of enthusiasm.

Involve them in packing and planning

Make the process of preparing for boarding school a collaborative effort by involving your child in packing and planning. Let them choose some of their favorite toys, books, and personal items to bring with them. This will provide a sense of familiarity and comfort in their new environment.

Additionally, involve them in the planning process by discussing their schedule, extracurricular activities, and any special requests they may have.

Remember, every child is different, and their readiness for boarding school may vary. It’s important to have open and honest conversations with your child, listen to their concerns, and make decisions that align with their individual needs and well-being.

Tips for Parents on the Boarding School Decision

Thoroughly research schools

When considering boarding school for your 6-year-old, it is crucial to conduct thorough research on potential schools. Look for institutions that have a strong academic curriculum, a nurturing environment, and a positive track record in providing emotional and social support for young children.

Websites such as Boarding School Review can provide valuable information and reviews from current and former students and parents.

Consult with your child’s doctor

Before making a decision, it is important to consult with your child’s doctor. They can provide insights into your child’s physical and emotional development and help you assess whether boarding school is a suitable option at this age.

Additionally, they may be able to provide recommendations or considerations based on your child’s specific needs or health conditions.

Listen to your child’s preferences

While parents ultimately make the decision, it is essential to listen to your child’s preferences and take them into account. Engage in open and honest conversations with your child about their thoughts and feelings regarding boarding school.

Their input can provide valuable insights into their readiness and willingness to embark on this educational journey.

Trust your instincts as a parent

As a parent, you know your child best. Trust your instincts when making the decision about boarding school. Consider factors such as your child’s independence, resilience, and ability to adapt to new environments.

If you have concerns or reservations, it is important to address them and explore alternative options if necessary.

Maintain close contact after enrollment

Once your child is enrolled in a boarding school, it is vital to maintain close contact with them. Regular communication through phone calls, video chats, and visits will help you stay connected and provide reassurance to your child.

Additionally, maintaining a strong relationship with the school’s staff and teachers can help ensure that your child’s needs are being met and that they are thriving in their new environment.


The decision to send a 6-year-old to boarding school is complex, personal, and should be made carefully based on your family’s unique needs and situation. With open communication, proper preparation, and a nurturing boarding school environment, many young children can thrive in a boarding school setting.

Listen to your instincts, involve your child in the process, and don’t be afraid to change course if it isn’t working. Boarding school can be an amazing experience for some 6-year-olds, but it certainly isn’t right for every child.

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