10, 20 years ago, it was considered ‘early’ for children to go to boarding school at the age of 13. In recent years, however, there has been a growing trend for parents to send their children to boarding school at much younger ages – even from as early as 7 or 8 years old to attend prep schools. This begs the question of whether there is a ‘perfect’ age to go to boarding school.
You are probably aware of studies which talk about how important it is for young children to be in constant physical contact with their parents in order to safeguard their psychological well-being and development. It is also more than understandable if you would want to be able to see your children as much as possible before they go off to university – time flies by! On the other hand, you may think that going to boarding school early will not only help your child become more independent, but will also allow your child to have more exposure to an education which would otherwise not be available in Hong Kong. Furthermore, some statistics suggest that it is easier to get into certain boarding schools (such as Eton) by attending prep schools (such as Dragon) beforehand, as these prep schools are well experienced in preparing children to take those entrance exams and pass those interviews.
Ultimately, we all want ‘the best’ for our children – but we also know that every child is different, so that there is unlikely to be a cookie-cutter answer that works to the best interests of every child. We asked our tutors at Ampla what they think are the most important factors to consider when deciding on the appropriate age for children to go to boarding school. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer which popped up the most was, “it depends on the child’s character”, especially regarding whether a child is emotionally capable of leaving home. Some tutors felt that staying in Hong Kong longer allowed them to have a firmer foundation of written Chinese, which has proved to be very useful when job hunting in Hong Kong after university. Those who went before 13+ are generally grateful for starting early, as they felt that it gave them a chance to learn new languages (such as Latin and German) and try out other subjects and activities which local schools in Hong Kong lacked (such as drama and critical thinking), before deciding whether they would want to take it for GCSEs. Further, going at a young age sometimes meant that it was easier to make friends and assimilate to the British culture. All of these factors matter, and it may be desirable to have a chat with your child about them to gage their initial thoughts.
In conclusion, there is no set formula for your child’s education and well being – but we at Ampla would always be more than happy to have a discussion with you to see what would be the best for your child. After all, that is all that matters.
Stephanie attended Benenden School before obtaining her Classics degree from the University of Cambridge. Having experienced life as a boarder at a very young age and been appointed Overseas Liaison at Benenden, she thoroughly understands the concerns and challenges young students (and their parents) may face. Stephanie has spent years tutoring students for the purposes of preparation for boarding schools, and believes that every student can reach their maximum potential with good education. She is now a qualified lawyer in Hong Kong.
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