Boarding schools have long been a subject of intrigue, and one of the fundamental questions parents often grapple with is: “Do kids who go to boarding school do better?” The answer isn’t straightforward—boarding schools, just like public schools or private day schools, offer unique benefits and experiences. 

Parents of international students come to us for help deciding where to send their child or teenager to school. Boarding schools have been stigmatized due to the often dreary media portrayal. The reality, from curriculum and activities to food and accommodations, is much different—in our experience, the polar opposite of dreary.

Let’s delve deeper into the world of boarding education in Canada and explore its impact on children’s academic and personal growth.

A Brief Overview of Boarding Schools

Boarding schools are a unique educational environment where students live on campus, which can range from grand, historic buildings to modern facilities. These institutions are well-known for their high academic standards, extracurricular offerings, and opportunities for personal development.

“Boarding schools offer a blend of rigorous academics, character development, and a tight-knit community, which can create a transformative educational experience.”

FutureBright Canada

However, comparing boarding schools directly with day schools may not paint the whole picture—it’s important to consider the individual student’s needs, abilities, and aspirations.

Public vs. Private: A Canadian Perspective

In a previous article, we discussed the differences between public and private education in Canada. Public schools provide standardized education, holding all students to the same standard. Meanwhile, private day schools often boast smaller class sizes, specialized programs, and more resources.

Boarding schools—most of which are private—combine these advantages with a living-learning environment that can nurture independence and resilience. But does this necessarily lead to better outcomes for students?

To give you an idea of what the boarding school environment has to offer you, here are examples of many of the activities at the boarding schools in Canada we work with, mostly in and around Toronto:

  1. Lakefield College School offers a distinctive experiential learning program, which encourages students to immerse themselves in a range of outdoor activities such as canoeing and snowboarding, making it a unique blend of academia and nature. The school also prides itself on its student-driven environmental initiatives, fostering a community of global-minded and ecologically aware citizens.
  2. Trinity College School is renowned for its strong Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum and its international exchange programs. Their rigorous academic schedule is balanced with a thriving arts and athletics program. 
  3. St. Andrew’s College offers an exclusive, all-boys education with a strong focus on technology. Its wide range of sports, including an outstanding ice hockey program, provides students with a well-rounded experience.
  4. Pickering College, with its innovative Global Leadership Program, offers students the chance to work on social entrepreneurship projects that can have a real-world impact. The school also has an on-campus equestrian program, allowing students to pursue their riding interests alongside academic pursuits.
  5. Ridley College differentiates itself with the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme, and its diverse student body, boasting students from over 60 countries. It also has a Cadet Corps program, the largest of its kind in Canada, fostering leadership and responsibility among students.
  6. Albert College is a small, community-oriented school that places a strong emphasis on the ‘Five A’s’: Academics, Athletics, Arts, Active Citizenship, and Adventure, fostering a well-rounded education. It is also renowned for its music program, offering unique opportunities for students to engage in a variety of ensembles and music classes.
  7. Ashbury College provides a diverse academic program with a strong bilingual element, offering courses in both English and French. The school’s Model United Nations club has received international acclaim, providing students with rich experiences in debate, negotiation, and diplomacy.
  8. Stanstead College, nestled in Quebec but close to the U.S. border, offers a unique multicultural environment with students from around the globe. It is known for its strong college preparatory curriculum and its competitive sports program, particularly in hockey and rugby.

Evidence from Case Studies and Testimonials

The above listed activities alone don’t begin to cover all the benefits. Our case studies and testimonials provide compelling insights. Many families of boarding school students, spanning the globe from Turkey and Hong Kong to Spain and Italy, speak of the lifelong friendships formed, the invaluable life skills learned, and the academic rigour that prepared their children for university and beyond.

These testimonials, however, should be viewed in context. Although our students consistently excel academically, success can look different for each student. What works best for one child may not be ideal for another. Is your child more artsy? Athletic? Technological? That’s why we talk to parents like yourself and help you match a child with the right boarding school based on their specialty, interests and needs.

A Holistic View of Canadian Schools

Canadian schools—be they public, private, or boarding—provide diverse educational pathways. It’s crucial for parents to consider factors such as their child’s personality, learning style, interests, and long-term goals when choosing a school.

  1. Academics: Boarding schools often offer extensive AP or IB programs, which can give students an academic edge.
  2. Extracurriculars: These schools generally offer a wider range of activities than day schools, which can lead to a more well-rounded education.
  3. Personal Growth: Living away from home can foster independence, resilience, and self-confidence.

However, these benefits come with trade-offs. Some children might find the boarding school environment challenging or overwhelming. Therefore, it’s essential to involve your child in the decision-making process.

In conclusion, whether kids do better in boarding schools depends on how ‘doing better’ is defined. While some students thrive in this environment, others might excel in day schools. At FutureBright Canada, we’re committed to helping you find the right educational path for your child. We invite you to explore our services and reach out to our educational consultant Filiz for a personalized consultation. After all, the best school is one that brings out the best in your child.