Can Boarding Schools Encourage Independence?

Encouraging independence at a young age is so important for the development of children. A way of introducing your children to a path of self-assurance for life is by enrolling them in boarding school.

As a boarding school in Devon, we’ve seen first hand how the experience can positively shape young learners. Read more to discover the benefits of taking this step.

Why is Independence Good?

The idea of introducing independence to your child can be a daunting prospect. You don’t want them to grow up too quickly, but at the same time, giving children the gift of independence at such a pivotal age will embolden them to follow a life path of self-belief.

If you don’t foster healthy habits early, this could have a detrimental impact on their overall cognitive development. Here’s a list of reasons why independence is an absolutely essential life skill: 

Reduces Stress

Over-dependence can be stressful for the whole family. Constant clinginess can be exhausting for parents and won’t allow you to be at your best to take care of your children.

Learning to function independently sets them on a lifelong path of confidence and competence and gives you both a chance to feel at ease.

Lessens Anxiety

If a child is always looking to their parents for guidance, they may not be able to cope in situations where you aren’t around. 

Alleviating separation anxiety helps to prepare your child for situations where they may need to stand on their own two feet.

Increases Self-esteem

Self-reliance is one of the most empowering feelings a child can have. The sense of freedom and achievement they will garner from doing things by themselves will significantly boost their self-esteem.

More Likely to Succeed

Being able to apply these skills to education means a much higher chance of academic success.

At St. Peter’s Prep, there is a 100% success rate for Year 8 children of entry to their chosen senior schools.

This vastly increases the chances of your child gaining scholarships in subjects such as computer science, art, design & technology, sport, music or drama like many of the students here often do.

Needless to say, encouraging independence is a golden opportunity for your child’s growth.

How Does Boarding School Encourage Independence?

So how exactly can boarding school encourage your child to be more independent? Here’s a breakdown:

Promotes Healthy Family Dynamics

A boarding school can provide stability for students to focus on themselves and their educational progress without being too dependent on family members. Spending some time away from a busy home is perfect for concentration.

Teaches Responsibility

Boarding school teaches children to be responsible for themselves and to organise their belongings. This is a vital experience that will set the foundation for lasting diligence and self-sufficiency.

Confidence-Building Activities

Students walking through woods

Exciting activities are instrumental in building confidence and independence.

St. Peter’s Prep offers a wide range of activities from scuba diving, cycling, chess, trips to the cinema and theatre, trips to farms, bonding around a campfire, and hikes through the forest. 

From Year 3 onwards, these expeditions will grow from local adventures to travelling abroad. Your child will have endless opportunities to create unforgettable memories!

Creates a Supportive Network

Independence doesn’t mean your child will be alone. At boarding school, teachers and other staff at school can form a supportive network for them.

Not to mention, they will get to spend much more time with their friends; developing deep bonds and feeling that they belong in a tightly knit community. Experiencing boarding school life alongside peers will form a strong sense of solidarity.

This also greatly improves social skills by boosting their confidence and giving them fun experiences. Take a look at how socialising is a key aspect of their development.

Approaching Your Child About Boarding School

Although boarding school has an undeniably positive effect on child development, it can still be difficult to know how to get started. Here are some steps you can take to better prepare your child for boarding school life:

Encourage Independence at Home

At boarding school, your child will be responsible for their belongings, perhaps for the first time.

They may feel like a fish out of water, so before you do anything else, establish a routine at home to gently introduce your child to looking after themselves a bit more.

You could have them write a list of things they want to take to further mindfulness over their belongings.

Another way is to get them used to housework they may have to do by themselves at boarding school, such as folding and putting away their clothes, making their bed, using a washing machine and dryer, and so on. 

Talk About It First

Open and honest communication will give them plenty of time to think it over for themselves and prepare. Even if they react negatively, remain patient and reassuring. It’s important that your child feels they can talk to you about their emotions.

Be Positive

Children learn from their parents. If they can sense trepidation they are likely to mimic this, so stay positive to assure them that this is an exciting occasion rather than a scary one. 

Making plans together with a can-do attitude will make things feel far less intimidating.

Start Planning

To prepare for the practicalities of boarding school life, read through the information provided by St. Peter’s Prep together to see what your child will need to bring. Figuring out what you need to buy in advance will enable you to get their things packed with minimal stress.

A Personal Touch

Let them take some mementoes from home; maybe a few toys, something handcrafted, or photographs. They’ll feel a lot more eager to learn if they have personal items to make them feel comfortable.

Keep In Contact

Arrange to keep in contact. While independence is important, it’s also understandable that children will feel homesick.

This is why it’s crucial to maintain contact whether it’s through letters, emails, phone calls, or keeping in touch online. It could be helpful to make a calendar to show when you will be seeing each other over the term.

Give Them Time

Remember, it’s all about familiarity. Your child may just need some time to adjust.

Here at St. Peter’s Prep, we offer flexi boarding school options which may be less intense and better suited to your individual needs.

To discover more about our educational opportunities at St Peter’s Prep, get in touch with Rachel Jupp, Director of Admissions & Marketing, on 01395 280335 or email

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