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Part-time and flexi boarding

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Boarding schools used to be about packing the children up and off for the term in the knowledge that though you may miss them whilst they were gone, the greater glory would be the enhanced educational and social benefits of being at school full time.Do part-time and flexi boarding pupils really get the best of both worlds?

But whilst full-time boarding still remains popular in today’s independent residential schools they have also had to adapt to meet the needs of both parent and child, leading to the introduction in many schools of a wider range of boarding options – including weekly and flexi-boarding which bring a number of value adds for modern day parents.

What are the options?

The benefits of a wider range of boarding options for working parents are clear: Parents are more mobile than ever and so often work further afield, meaning long commute times that affect daily family life. With both parents now working in many families the ability for a child to board during the school week but to be picked up and returned home for the weekend helps many parents find a more acceptable and healthier balance for their busy lives. They are able to work hard during the week at their jobs knowing their children are being well cared for, but safe in the knowledge that come the weekend the family will be reunited once more and can spend proper, quality time together rather than a few hurried hours of a weekday.

The children are properly supervised with planned study time and supervised activities throughout the week to keep them busy and stimulated at the end of the school day, and can relax with their friends come the evening. Parents meanwhile are able to recharge their batteries at the end of each working day.

When you consider the alternative – rushing home from work to relieve the au pair or childsitter, doing household chores and then playing taxi driver to your children’s social diary before finally grabbing a hurried meal and an hour or two of  TV before collapsing into bed exhausted at the end of each day – then it’s no surprise that part time boarding is so popular.

Flexi is an alternativeflex or part time boarding

Of course, the concept doesn’t necessarily suit all families which has seen the rise of another growing trend: That of flexi-boarding. Though not all schools offer the more infrequent boarding option, the ability for children to board for irregular periods of time – as and when circumstances or need dictates – is hugely attractive for many parents because it relieves the stresses of finding other forms of childcare for their offspring, as well as giving the children a taste of boarding independence.

Children may stay for the odd night a week when their parents work late or are otherwise engaged, or for more extended periods – covering work trips for example, or even parent-only holidays. This service can bring huge benefits to family lives that have, after all, changed hugely from the original days of boarding when families typically comprised single earners and stay at home mums. For parents a night or two off from the children can even be a relationship saviour. For the children it’s a taste of freedom and the chance to mature away from the apron strings of home, as well as better fitting around after school activities such as sporting fixtures or post school trips such as the theatre that a parent may struggle to accommodate within their working week.

The concept of boarding has changed because family life has changed. Schools have adapted to accommodate that change – and the benefits are clear for all.



About Liz Morrell

About Liz Morrell

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