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How boarding helps to build resilience

For a person to thrive in their life, being able to bounce back from setbacks is an important characteristic to develop. A lack of resilience can lead to physical and mental health issues, and negative coping mechanisms, so there is no doubt that helping young people to become resilient is critical for their growth. Resilience requires the development of several complimentary skills of self awareness, emotional regulation, confidence, problem solving, responsibility, communication, teamwork and flexibility, and this is where boarding schools have a unique contribution to play.

Boarding schools give children the opportunity to live away from home in a protected, home from home community on the school campus, looked after by staff who act as the absent parent on behalf of the pupils. These schools are an ideal environment in which to grow the skills that fosters resilience because they are immersive, full time and safe.

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As boarders spend so much time with their peers, boarding contributes to the development of their social and emotional development. They are encouraged to actively participate in finding solutions and become expert at understanding how decisions impact on the community and on themselves. In their shared experiences, boarders learn how to cooperate, show tolerance and share their living space, and in doing so they build friendships that last a lifetime.

A boarding house is often a diverse community with pupils from different countries and cultures living side by side, and this blended living teaches pupils to respect differences and to challenge ignorance, helping them become aware of their place in the world as global citizens. They learn to develop their own self awareness and are not afraid to stand up and speak or sit and listen, and to act against bad things.

Boarding requires being motivated and organised with one’s time and possessions; self discipline and a growing maturity is necessary to adjust to living away from home. Pupils are required to manage their academic studies and homework and prioritise their time to be on time for meals, attend activities and practice, and stay in touch with home. Boarders are encouraged to recognise when they need help and be prepared to ask for it.

In the boarding community, pupils rise to positions of responsibility and are given the chance to develop their leadership skills; older pupils are encouraged to mentor younger pupils so they understand the rules of the community and the consequences of their behaviour.

Boarding school focuses not only on academic standards but also on daily physical fitness; by participating in regular activities and sports, boarders have the mental and physical ability to tackle challenging situations without becoming ill.

Boarding school is an appropriate place to try out new things, to step out of one’s comfort zone and be braver, with the safety net of experienced staff on hand to guide and give positive support. Boarders get early exposure to failure and are encouraged to keep trying, to persevere so that they learn that they are able to overcome challenges, that they are worthy. They learn how to respond to loss and failure in a positive way, by reframing their experience and by being more flexible in their thinking about making mistakes as an opportunity rather than a negative.

It is reassuring to know that boarding school cultivates the essential skills for resilience that are important to prepare young people for future challenges and to help them to navigate successfully the pressures of modern life.

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