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The Boarding School Option

There are many reasons to have your children attend a boarding school while you are living in Indonesia:

  • there may be no other school in the region where you live that can meet the educational needs of your child;
  • you may want to provide a stable school environment as your child nears the end of their schooling as your family may relocate - again;
  • it may mean that your child can take subjects that lead to their preferred university course or career;
  • for the experience of living away from home in preparation for university to develop their independence or their English language skills;
  • or it could simply be a choice to give your child the rich and varied experiences that a boarding experience provides.

Benefits of boarding

Whatever the reason behind the decision, there are some key benefits your child will gain from attending a boarding school; particularly during high school/secondary school. Boarding provides a boost in self confidence for students and helps develop their independence and self management skills while still providing a safety net of school-organised routines and schedules.

There are studies that suggest boarding provides an added edge in academic performance, since the routines in a boarding house provide for a structured study roster and tend to result in greater time spent on homework, revision and study during these vital final school years.

What is boarding?

The ‘traditional’ boarding experience is a residential boarding school, where students live together in a school-run boarding facility with shared or single bedrooms and shared living spaces. There are house parents to provide supervision, assist students, help resolve issues and answer queries – be they academic or personal.

The routines of a boarding house ensure students have a balance between academic and leisure pursuits, resulting in dedicated time towards homework and other interests such as sport, music or community service. Meals, housekeeping and study support are usually included and the boarding houses are usually located either within the school grounds, or very close to the day school.

‘D-I-Y’ boarding

There is boarding and there is boarding. A number of boarding schools now accept students as day pupils while they board in a student hostel or an appointed guardian’s home. This can be successful if your (older) child is going to be a weekly boarder (meaning they will come home every weekend) or they are very independent and self motivated, and are likely to make friends easily. However, this option does not always offer the level of support needed by younger students in a country or city not their own.

Sending them ‘home’

Another option, traditionally the choice of expats and other families who think their child will be going to university abroad, has always been to ‘send them home’ to finish their schooling in the country they are likely to attend university in. However, given the long-term nature of some expatriate relocations nowadays, this may not be the child’s ‘home’ country, regardless of what it says on their passport! Undoubtedly, going to board in the UK, Europe, Australia or America can prepare a student for attending university in those countries. However, especially if the child is younger, this option can be fraught with culture-shock and homesickness, in that the student can sometimes take a long while to adjust and may miss some opportunities available at the school.

The Asia-based options

Many expat parents know that there are numerous international schools across the region offering excellent education options for students of all ages that now accept boarders enrolled on a school-sanctioned, hostel-based arrangement (the D-I-Y option mentioned above).

What many parents do not realise is that there are boarding options in the Southeast Asia region that provide both a world-class education and the ‘traditional’ residential boarding option – all on their doorstep! These schools are often centrally located, in Singapore, Malaysia or India and offer an international education to students from around the world. There are a number of IB World Schools, including one of the largest IB Diploma schools in the world. Alternatively there are several British-system schools offering GCSE and A Level boarding options around the region.

The Asia-based boarding option provides not only a ‘closer-to-family’ option; it also opens a wealth of opportunity in terms of regional travel and cultural / global awareness. Many students in these schools – be they day or boarding pupils – have experienced the transition of moving to a new country and culture to start school. The international school community is naturally geared to understanding and providing support for boarders as they adjust to living away from home, possibly for the first time. Being closer to family also means more frequent visits; this is especially important for younger boarders (and their parents!)

The final decision

In the end, only you and your child can decide which option and which school is going to be right for your child. Families need to invest some time in making sure that the school they have selected is going to be a good fit, by visiting the school if at all possible, taking a tour and making sure it will support your child socially, emotionally and culturally as well as academically.

The rewards of making the right decision stand to resonate far beyond the school gates.