How does one school differ from another?
What does a cultural tradition mean for a school, especially a boarding school?
Huaer Collegiate school is committed to creating a new type of boarding program that is in line with the educational philosophies of top boarding schools in the United States and sharing many similarities in program design and management.
The boarding program at Huaer Collegiate starts at the Middle School level, creating a home away from home for students from Grades 6 to 12.
A study by The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) indicated that the best education in the United States is found at boarding schools.
In China, however, there are many misunderstandings about the boarding school system.
In the traditional Chinese education environment, parents often see boarding as a last resort. Common reasons for sending a child to a boarding school may include avoiding a time-consuming commute to school, parents who are busy with work, and the need for a stricter environment to tackle disobedience.
In short, boarding school is seen as a compromise for most parents and students in China.
Jianli Yin, author of the book A Good Mother is Better Than a Good Teacher, is one of China’s most influential critics of boarding schools. She has likened boarding schools to orphanages, reflecting a typical bias among Chinese parents.
Many parents worry that the boarding system separates children from their parents, forcing them into an isolated or militarized environment where they are treated cruelly by teachers.
It is true that the conventional management of boarding facilities in Chinese schools offers no educational value other than room and board and the expectation that students will study by themselves at night. There is no essential difference between the experiences of students who commute and those who live at the school. This is, however, very different to the environments of the world’s best boarding schools.
Boarding schools have many obvious advantages
From an academic perspective, students have more time to devote themselves to learning and can make fuller use of the school’s learning resources. Furthermore, when they have an issue, they can more easily find a mentor or subject teacher to help address it.
Such collaboration enhances the learning process and allows students to absorb various thinking and learning methods.
When it comes to students’ personal development, boarding provides an environment in which they can explore life and their interests more independently.
Getting along with classmates of different personalities, establishing friendships or solving problems all play a vital role in the development of a child’s emotional intelligence and cooperation skills.
International schools in particular create a multicultural experience that helps students to develop some of today’s most in-demand abilities such as critical thinking, collaboration and empathy.
In the United States, private boarding education is considered among the highest-quality choice options for many families. Boarding schools are often located within beautiful grounds where school administrators and teachers live together with students.
The Thacher School, for example, was built on a hillside overlooking the beautiful Ojai Valley in California, while the campus of the Concord Academy in Massachusetts features the Walden Pond, made famous by Henry David Thoreau.
These elegant scenes are repeated at top private boarding schools across the United States.
Q：So, what is life like at the leading American boarding schools?
Firstly, the boarding culture is student-centered and aims to develop outstanding students.
Secondly, boarding is a complete system that covers every aspect of a student’s development including life management, academic management and emotional development. Mentors and teachers are highly involved in the process of leading and caring for students.
Thirdly, boarding schools offer students comprehensive educational courses and co-curricular activities.
Last but not least, the boarding school environment allows students to mature and become independent.
The British and American boarding systems not only emphasize the role played by teachers, but also focus on the development of students’ autonomy. Students are expected to hold positions of responsibility in their dormitory, with senior students guiding and leading the new students. The expectation that students are involved in the management of their dormitories is a crucial element of whole person education.
The norms of the boarding school management systems in Britain and America have developed over hundreds of years of practice. Through boarding, students’ educational experience is extended from the classroom to after class, from 8 hours to 24 hours a day.
Teachers and tutors are fully involved in the management of a dormitory, interacting with students beyond the classroom. This ensures the realization of whole person education, which focuses on students’ all-round development in aspects including academic performance but also extending to moral qualities, physical education, creativity, emotional development and leadership.
Under such a framework, attending a boarding school becomes a desired educational experience rather than a forced or undesirable decision.
Over a span of three to four years, students at boarding schools acquire the skills needed to get along with adults and their peers, developing a spirit of cooperation and self-awareness and cultivating self-management skills before finally completing the important growth process from teenager to adult.
When students finally leave their families to pursue studies overseas, they are not only fully prepared academically, but also as an independent person.
Embrace the qualities of leading boarding schools in the United States
In what ways does the boarding program at Shanghai Huaer Collegiate School Kunshan ？
In terms of educational ethos, Huaer Collegiate treats students as capable scholars, provides them with personalized individual learning opportunities and follows a holistic approach to education.
The school’s dormitory system is managed by teachers and provides a secure and comfortable environment for students:
1. Boarding teachers and subject teachers live together with students and serve as dormitory parents.
2. Each residential hall has a dormitory head.
3. Teachers from the Middle School and Upper School visit the dormitory every week to communicate with students about any social and emotional issues they might have as well as their academic development.
4. A well-planned daily routine ensures that students have enough time to focus on their studies.
Huaer Collegiate has developed a boarding program that caters to the needs of Chinese students and is as comprehensive as those of leading boarding schools in the United States. Boarders are provided with a nurturing environment in which they are encouraged to form good habits, develop self-confidence and strengthen their own capacities.
The boarding program focuses on developing students’:
- Independence and resilience
- Social skills
- Time management skills
- Personal management skills
- Self-care skills
The program has been developed by the outstanding, multicultural faculty team at Huaer Collegiate. The team has a 1:1 ratio of Chinese to international teachers, while the school overall has a low teacher to student ratio of just 1:6.3. Our highly educated, professionally qualified and experienced teachers will serve in a range of positions in our boarding system to manage and care for our students.
It is also worth mentioning that the boarding system is supported by an advisory system. From the first grade, Huaer Collegiate students will have their own dedicated advisor and become part of a larger ‘team’ grouping. This mixed-age team will form a close connection, with the mentor acting as a friend or parent who is always ready to assist and advise, whether on academic improvements, course scheduling, personal management or emotional issues.
The advisor is responsible for any questions and problems a student might encounter in the boarding system, helping to shape the unique student life system at Huaer Collegiate.
What kind of boarding program can truly develop the whole child? What teenagers need is not lonely freedom or excessive help, but an environment that allows free exploration, combined with a mentor who understands them and gives a hand when necessary, allowing the student to become a fully independent individual.
And that is exactly what boarding is all about.