Sending a child to boarding school is a big decision for any parent. While boarding school offers many benefits like a rigorous academic curriculum, extracurricular activities and independence, it’s not the right fit for every child.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Children who are very attached to their parents, have special needs that require accommodations, or have severe behavioral issues are often not well-suited to boarding school life.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover different types of children who may struggle in a boarding school environment. We’ll also provide tips to help determine if boarding school is right for your child.

Children Who Have Severe Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common condition that affects many children, but for some, it can be more severe and challenging to manage. Children with severe separation anxiety may find it particularly difficult to adjust to the idea of attending a boarding school.

It is important for parents to recognize the signs and symptoms of separation anxiety in their child and consider whether boarding school is the right option for them.

Description of separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is a normal part of childhood development and usually occurs around the age of 8-14 months. It is characterized by feelings of distress and anxiety when a child is separated from their primary caregiver.

However, some children may continue to experience separation anxiety well beyond this age, and it can have a significant impact on their daily lives.

Children with severe separation anxiety may experience intense fear and worry about being separated from their parents or loved ones. They may have difficulty sleeping alone, refuse to go to school, or have physical symptoms such as stomachaches or headaches when faced with separation.

Signs your child has separation anxiety

Recognizing the signs of separation anxiety in your child is crucial in determining whether boarding school is a suitable option for them. Some common signs include:

  • Excessive clinginess or refusal to be alone
  • Frequent tantrums or meltdowns when faced with separation
  • Difficulty sleeping alone or frequent nightmares
  • Physical symptoms such as stomachaches or headaches
  • Extreme distress or panic when separated from parents

Why boarding school can be challenging

Boarding school can be a difficult transition for any child, but for those with severe separation anxiety, it can be particularly challenging. Being away from their parents and familiar surroundings for an extended period of time can exacerbate their anxiety and make it difficult for them to adjust to the new environment.

Additionally, the structured nature of boarding schools may not provide the same level of comfort and support that children with separation anxiety need. The lack of familiar faces and routines can further contribute to feelings of distress and anxiety.

Tips for managing separation anxiety

If your child has severe separation anxiety but you still believe that boarding school is the best option for them, there are steps you can take to help manage their anxiety:

  • Gradual exposure: Start by exposing your child to short periods of separation and gradually increase the time as they become more comfortable.
  • Open communication: Talk to your child about their fears and concerns and reassure them that you will always be there for them.
  • Establish routines: Create a predictable routine for your child that includes regular contact with you through phone calls, video chats, or visits.
  • Involve the school: Communicate with the boarding school staff about your child’s anxiety and work together to provide the necessary support.

Remember, every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It is important to consider your child’s individual needs and consult with professionals, such as therapists or counselors, who can provide guidance and support.

For more information on separation anxiety in children, you can visit the Healthy Children website, which offers valuable resources and tips for parents.

Children with Special Needs

Boarding schools can be a great option for many children, but it’s important to consider whether a child with special needs is suited for this type of educational environment. Special needs can encompass a wide range of conditions, and each child’s needs are unique.

Here are some important factors to consider when determining if a child with special needs is suited for boarding school.

Common special needs that may require accommodations

Children with special needs may require accommodations in order to thrive in a boarding school setting. Some common special needs include learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, and physical disabilities.

These conditions may impact a child’s ability to navigate the demands of a boarding school environment, so it’s important to consider the level of support and accommodations that are available.

Questions to ask about support services

When considering a boarding school for a child with special needs, it’s important to ask about the support services that are available. This may include access to special education teachers, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and other professionals who can provide the necessary support.

Additionally, it’s important to inquire about the school’s experience and track record in working with children with similar needs.

For more information on support services for children with special needs, you can visit

Considerations for choosing a boarding school

When choosing a boarding school for a child with special needs, there are a few additional considerations to keep in mind. Firstly, it’s important to ensure that the school has experience and expertise in working with children with similar needs.

Additionally, the school should have a strong support network in place, including dedicated staff members who are trained to meet the specific needs of these children. It’s also important to consider the school’s academic and extracurricular offerings, as well as the overall culture and environment of the school.

Tips for transitioning a special needs child

Transitioning a child with special needs to a boarding school can be a complex process. It’s important to involve the child in the decision-making process and allow them to express their feelings and concerns.

It can also be helpful to visit potential schools in person and meet with staff members who will be working with the child. Additionally, creating a strong support system at home and maintaining open lines of communication with the school can help ensure a smooth transition.

While boarding school may not be the right fit for every child with special needs, for some, it can provide a supportive and enriching educational environment. By considering the child’s individual needs and the resources available at potential schools, parents can make an informed decision about whether boarding school is the right choice for their child.

Children with Significant Behavioral Issues

Boarding schools can be a great option for many children, offering a unique educational experience and fostering independence and personal growth. However, it is important to recognize that not all children are suited for this type of environment.

One particular group of children who may not thrive in boarding school are those with significant behavioral issues.

Examples of severe behavioral problems

Children with severe behavioral problems may exhibit a range of challenging behaviors that can disrupt the learning environment and make it difficult for them to benefit from a boarding school setting.

These behaviors can include aggression, defiance, impulsivity, frequent tantrums, and difficulty following rules and instructions. It is important to note that these behaviors are not simply a result of typical childhood misbehavior, but rather indicate deeper underlying issues that require specialized attention and support.

Why these issues may be problematic at boarding school

Boarding schools operate on a structured schedule and have a communal living arrangement, which can be challenging for children with significant behavioral issues. The constant presence of peers and staff, as well as the lack of privacy and personal space, may exacerbate their difficulties and make it harder for them to regulate their behavior.

Additionally, the limited resources and staff-to-student ratio in boarding schools may not be sufficient to provide the individualized support and interventions that these children require.

Methods for addressing behavioral problems

Before considering boarding school for a child with significant behavioral issues, it is crucial to explore alternative options that may better meet their needs. This could include seeking out specialized therapeutic programs or schools that have experience working with children with similar challenges.

These programs often have a higher staff-to-student ratio, individualized behavior plans, and a comprehensive approach that combines therapy, education, and support for both the child and their family.

Questions to ask when evaluating boarding schools

If boarding school is still being considered, it is essential to thoroughly evaluate the school’s ability to support children with behavioral issues. Some questions to ask include:

  • Does the school have experience working with children with similar challenges?
  • What support services are available for children with behavioral issues?
  • What is the staff-to-student ratio, and how does it compare to other schools?
  • Are there specific behavior management strategies or programs in place?
  • What is the school’s approach to addressing challenging behaviors?

By asking these questions and carefully considering the answers, parents can make an informed decision about whether a particular boarding school is equipped to meet the unique needs of their child with significant behavioral issues.

For more information and resources on this topic, you may visit websites such as Child Mind Institute or

Children Who Have Experienced Trauma

When considering whether a child is suited for boarding school, it is important to take into account their past experiences, especially if they have gone through trauma. Traumatic events can have a profound impact on a child’s emotional and psychological well-being, and it is crucial to understand how this might affect their ability to thrive in a boarding school environment.

Types of trauma kids may have experienced

Children can experience various types of trauma, ranging from physical or emotional abuse to neglect or the loss of a loved one. They may have witnessed violence or been involved in accidents or natural disasters.

Each child’s experience is unique, and it is crucial to recognize the specific trauma they have been through in order to provide appropriate support.

Effects of trauma on child development

Trauma can have long-lasting effects on a child’s development. It can impact their cognitive, emotional, and social functioning, making it challenging for them to adjust to new environments and form healthy relationships.

Children who have experienced trauma may exhibit symptoms such as anxiety, depression, aggression, or difficulty trusting others.

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, children who have experienced trauma are more likely to struggle with academic achievement and have higher rates of school dropout.

Boarding school environment considerations

Boarding schools provide a unique environment that may not be suitable for every child, especially those who have experienced trauma. The structured nature of boarding schools, with limited parental contact and a focus on independence, can be challenging for children who need additional support and stability.

According to a study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, children who have experienced trauma may have difficulties with separation and attachment, which can be exacerbated in a boarding school setting.

Tips for supporting a child with trauma history

  • Ensure the boarding school has a strong support system in place, including counselors and mental health professionals who are experienced in working with traumatized children.
  • Provide a safe and nurturing environment where the child feels comfortable expressing their emotions and seeking help when needed.
  • Establish clear communication channels between the child, their caregivers, and the school staff to ensure everyone is aware of the child’s history and can provide appropriate support.
  • Implement trauma-informed practices throughout the school, such as creating a predictable and structured routine, promoting a sense of safety and trust, and offering therapeutic interventions if needed.
  • Encourage social connections and peer support to help the child build healthy relationships and develop a sense of belonging within the boarding school community.

Remember, every child is unique, and it is essential to assess their individual needs and capabilities when considering whether a boarding school is the right fit for them.

Homesick-Prone Children

Boarding school can be a fantastic opportunity for many children, offering them a chance to gain independence, develop lifelong friendships, and receive a quality education. However, not every child is well-suited for the boarding school experience.

Some children may be more prone to homesickness, which can significantly impact their ability to thrive in a boarding school environment.

Signs your child may get homesick

It’s important for parents to be aware of the signs that their child may be prone to homesickness. Some common signs include frequent longing for home, difficulty adjusting to new environments, excessive tearfulness or sadness, and withdrawal from social activities.

If your child exhibits these signs during sleepovers or summer camps, it may indicate that they could struggle with homesickness at boarding school.

Ways homesickness can impact boarding school experience

Homesickness can have a significant impact on a child’s experience at boarding school. It can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can affect their academic performance and overall well-being.

A homesick child may struggle to develop meaningful relationships with fellow students and teachers, hindering their ability to fully engage in the boarding school community.

Additionally, homesickness can also affect a child’s ability to adapt to the structured routine and independence that boarding school demands. They may have difficulty managing their time, completing assignments, and participating in extracurricular activities, all of which are crucial components of the boarding school experience.

Strategies to prevent and manage homesickness

Fortunately, there are strategies that parents and boarding schools can implement to help prevent and manage homesickness in children. One effective approach is to gradually expose the child to longer periods of separation from home, such as sleepovers or summer camps, to help them build resilience and coping skills.

It’s also important for boarding schools to provide a supportive and nurturing environment for homesick-prone children. This can include assigning a mentor or buddy system, offering counseling services, and creating opportunities for social engagement and connection.

Questions to consider before sending a homesick-prone child

Before deciding to send a homesick-prone child to boarding school, parents should carefully consider a few important questions. Firstly, it’s crucial to evaluate the child’s readiness for the boarding school experience.

Are they emotionally mature enough to handle the challenges of separation from home and the demands of boarding school life?

Parents should also consider the level of support and resources available at the boarding school. How well-equipped is the school to address homesickness and provide the necessary support to help the child adjust and thrive?

Lastly, it’s important for parents to have open and honest conversations with their child about their feelings and concerns regarding boarding school. Understanding their fears and anxieties can help parents make an informed decision that is best for their child’s overall well-being and happiness.


While boarding school offers outstanding opportunities for many students, it’s important to weigh factors like separation anxiety, special needs, behavioral issues, trauma history and homesickness when determining if it’s the right fit for your child.

Addressing any challenges proactively and choosing a boarding school with necessary support services can help every child thrive.

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