Parents and students considering a junior boarding school (a boarding school for students in the elementary or middle school years) are apt to have a lot of questions about the dorm life. So we asked our junior boarding school dorm parents Brian Brinkley and Dan Warlick a few questions about it.
1. Describe the structure of the evening schedule.
After school, students participate in a sport until supper. After supper, they begin study hall from 6:15-7:45. From 7:45-9:00, they have free time during which they can play Wii or billiards, watch TV, use personal electronics, or play outside/in gym as staff is able to supervise.
This is when true bonding and friendships evolve as they hang out with their friends or play group games in someone’s room. Staff uses this time to help students with personal issues, teach them life skills (i.e. making beds, folding clothes, hygiene, cleaning windows, etc). They also use the time to be proactive about addressing concepts such as bullying, lying, or cheating, before they become issues.
Students are on their hall at 9:00 and can hang out with friends after turning in electronics at 9:00. At 9:15, they go to their rooms to get quiet and settle down before lights out at 9:30.
2. Why is dorm life at a junior boarding school beneficial to students?
Social skills, personal discipline, and self confidence develop much faster in a boarding school environment because they are around more peers than the average “tween” and they can rely less on parents to do things for them. They become more self-reliant by cleaning their own room, handling their laundry, managing their hygiene items, and budgeting their allowance/spending money on trips. They are discouraged from borrowing or loaning their possessions.
3. What is the biggest challenge junior boarding school students face?
It can, at times, be tough to be away from family and friends. When a student doesn’t feel well or is having a bad day, they can’t get a hug from Mom or a little extra attention from Dad, and that’s hard. While nothing beats your own bed at home or Mom’s cooking, students do manage to find comfort in their boarding school families. It sounds cliché but students say it all the time: the friends they make here truly are their second family. Of course the faculty and staff are there to support the students as well, and each student at R-MA also has a mentor who helps watch out for them. We try to help kids become strong, responsible young adults while not interfering with family values and traditions. We are here to make a difference in a child’s life, help them make wise choices, and broaden their future options. We also strive to help them develop personal interests and create lifelong memories.
4. What are some of the things the students enjoy doing?
Students enjoy game room activities such as billiards, Foosball, air hockey, Wii, TV, and sharing their personal electronics with friends. In their rooms, kids talk, listen to music, watch TV on their laptops, and play group games. Some bring toys from home to play with, such as LEGOS® or Nerf® guns.
On weekends, students have an opportunity for a town trip to Wal-mart or Target and often a fast food or snack place. This gets them off campus and allows them to get things they need for school or hygiene as well as fun things to do with their friends.
We try to take a trip or have an activity each weekend. Trips range from simple dinner/movie or paintball to large scale trips such as a water park or amusement park. We try to balance expensive trips with lower key trips, while keeping in mind the distance needed to get to an activity.
The students really enjoy these activities and many of them try new activities, or participate in far more than they would at home.