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Boarding School Decision

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: How do you know if boarding school is right for your child? We haven't even sent our ten-year-old to sleep away camp yet. My husband was considering a private boarding school for high school. Our son presently attends a private prep school not far from home. He is a terrific and happy fifth grade student. Any ideas on how to solve this? We are planning to visit Choate, Groton, and Andover next year to check it out.

A: You don't have to decide at this moment whether your son will attend a private boarding school. Take the pressure off yourselves in that regard. You mentioned that your husband was considering a boarding school for your son's high school education. Are you considering this form of schooling because your husband suggested it? Would you have initiated this boarding school investigation if your husband had not raised the notion? I am inferring from your letter that you think your boy is happy and doing well in his present prep school situation. You and your husband need to discuss candidly why your son's attending one of the high-powered boarding schools that you mentioned (I am very familiar with these schools) is important to him.

I am sure that you will be impressed with your tours of these eastern boarding schools. I question how you will make any informed decisions about your ten-year-old son attending one of these schools for high school at this age and stage of his overall development - academically, emotionally, and socially. He will go through many dramatic and important developmental changes before he is ready to attend high school. I know that I have asked you more questions than I have provided you with answers. I have done so because a complex decision like this one should be made only when you have considered many important factors and you have involved your son in the process. If I may help you further as time passes, please write me.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


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