The United States of America is home to some of the best international boarding schools in the world. One of the most common features of these outstanding schools is the very low number of students per teacher and the outstanding facilities. Another factor that should make you consider boarding school in the U.S is that the majority of these institutions have an impressive history of success when is comes to placing sudents in American colleges or universities. Otherwise these schools are incredibly diverse, so deciding which school you would like your child to go to can be a real challenge. To make the task a little easier, here is a step-by-step guide to help you choose your ideal American Boarding School:

1. Plan Ahead:

Finding someone who will not only take care of your child, but also provide the platform for education that will change the course of their life is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. For this reason, it is best not to make any hurried decisions.

Thanks to the Internet, it’s possible to find out a great deal about a school before even setting foot there. Many of these schools offer virtual tours and provide plenty of opportunity for you to reach out with any enquiries. This research should help you to narrow the choices down to suit the needs of your child, but it’s still only just the beginning. Ideally, you will need at least a year to research your options and plan for enrolment.

2. Work Out Exactly What You Want:

A useful exercise might be to write down all the things you are looking for before you start your research. There are important things you should be taking into account, such as your budget, the size of the school, the pastoral care on offer, and if it’s something that matters to you, the school’s religious values.  Say, for example, that you want to locate a school that offers remedial study opportunities in specific subjects, or special programmes for talented and gifted learners; think about whether your child is best suited to a boys-only, girls-only or co-educational school; if your child has a particular aptitude for an area of study or extracurricular activity, you will want to find a school with a strong track record in that area. Honest, thorough research- in this case, it really is everything!

3. Get Your Child Involved From the Very Beginning:

Choosing a boarding school is all about finding the right school to suit your child, and the ideal way to get them excited about that prospect is to keep them involved from the beginning. It is essential that your child feels a sense of ownership over the decision, and try to keep them energised and enthused about whatever choice you make. If they have a particular outside interest – whether it be sport or music – choosing a school that provides opportunities in these areas can give them a focus that will make the decision a lot easier.

4. Ask Lots of Questions:

In finding the right school for your son or daughter, it’s inevitable that you will think up lots of questions. Once you have a shortlist of the schools you are interested in, email each one of them a list of questions; for example, you might like to ask: What are the entry requirements? What level of English proficiency is required? What support is offered for speakers of other languages? What expenses over and above fees are likely to be incurred? Is financial assistance available? How do you cater for children who are gifted in the area that my child excels in? Does the school cater for special dietary requirements? How can we be sure our child will be safe and secure? What are the class sizes and is one-on-one tutoring available? What pastoral care and counselling is available? In what ways are children able to contact their parents? Email them absolutely anything and everything you think of- it is their job to help you, after all!

5. Visit the School:

You wouldn’t buy a place to live without inspecting it first, and if you want your child to find a home away from home, you really must visit it in person before committing to an enrolment. On top of visiting, you should book in for an interview, which is your chance to really find out whether the school is right for your little boy or girl. Bring along any other questions you have and don’t be shy to ask them! Visiting the school is the only way to get a true feel for its culture, and also the only way you can monitor the support that’s available.

6. Stay In Touch:

Most schools allow you to apply and enrol online. By this time, you should know all you will need to about the school, but by no means is this the end of the journey. As much as boarding school is about developing the independence of your child, it is still very important to keep in touch with both your child and the school to ensure your child’s needs are properly being met. Make sure your child is able to contact you when necessary, and that they have a schedule for meeting up with you in the holidays.

Image via Shutterstock.

This article first appeared on Asian Correspondent.