Do I let my 15 yr old daughter board?

Hello everyone. My daughter is now in her final year of college, so we are making plans for her to go to lycee next year. It seems many of the kids in her class will be boarding, something I am having difficulty getting my head around. 15 seems far too young for her to be away from home all week, and I am worried about how much supervision is given when they are in school. We are a good 30 minute drive from the nearest lycee, so it is possible for us to take her and pick her up, though it would mean long days and lots of traveling. Local buses are very early and very late, so I feel taxi-ing her is our only option. Has anyone else had any experience with this ? Good or bad, I would greatly appreciate any info. Thanks.

I think it is a personal issue for each family, both my eldest couldnt wait to board,the friendships they formed for my son continued right through the whole 3 years, as in the became roommates for the 3 years and has continued after. The system is strict but it has to be to a degree and both of mine have survived, there is obviously good and bad to both systems but at least they dont have long journey times at the end of a long day. The buses mine would have had to catch meant a 20 min. car journey to the bus at 6.30 am a bus journey of 50 mins a full day at school and home at 8 pm just time to homework and collapse into bed. If your daughter can use her travel time productively then she would have more available time at home but working on a bus isnt easy.

The weekends are then more family time as everyone isnt too tired and can relax!!

She could always board to start with and then change her mind as if the school is very popular for boarding she may not be able to get a bed offered if she does it the other way round. My son started at his lycee as the 1st ever english student and he didnt know anyone, he is not particularly outgoing either but at the end of the 3 years he has turned into a mature young man who I wish would stay at home for ever!!

Well in that case I would definitely put her on the bus.......:-) Don't think I would be too happy with that arrangement either. It's a shame as the boarding experience can be so wonderful. I guess at uni age they are hopefully mature enough to make their own entertainment, but it is not good practice to have teens left to their own devices, imho. :-)

Annette, boarding school in France isn't (except in a very few private exceptions) remotely like boarding the 'Anglo-Saxon' way - there are no 'Houses' and there aren't any special activities laid on for boarders, the options are doing their prep & having supper. Remember our school teaching day finishes at 6pm. So after lessons are over they are usually free for an hour or so (or possibly in étude, possibly in the library, possibly in the playground, possibly in the street...) then they have supper then do more work then go to bed. Lessons start again just before 8 so their only advantage is getting up a bit later than those who aren't on the spot.

P.S When it comes to friendships there is a clear divide between the boarders and day kids due to the time and activities the boarders share together. Whilst my kids do have day boys as friends they are limited due to time and constraints on boarding life so this might be something she wants to think about.

I think it would be important to chat to some of the boarders at the school she wants to go to.
There is a huge difference between boys and girls in a boarding environment and huge differences between boarding houses and how they are managed and run. I only have boys, two of which weekly board and have done since 13. The third is probably not boarding material as he has learning disabilities and therefore his needs are different. In the case of my boys it's been fantastic for self discipline and they appreciate coming home and have learnt to become men,(hiarchy of grades and learning to suck up the stuff in life you don't want to do!) Boarding is not about the individual and so they learn some very valuable life lessons as well as tight friendships that last a lifetime. (My husband was a boarder). I don't regret for a minute sending them and they love it there. The bonus is that they are right on site for any activity, and prep (homework/study) and sport are compulsory which is healthy for future habits.
I have many friends with girls and have watched some go to boarding school and absolutely embrace what was on offer and others who returned to day school. Some kids are just more independant than others. I do think it makes a big difference if your child is a school player wanting to be at sports/music/drama whatever or whether they just go to school for classes and fill their free time elsewhere. In our small town there is very little on offer outside school and school sports don't have the numbers to be super competitive. We needed to strecth their worlds a little before they go out into the real one.
Perhaps there might be an option for her to board the following year when her friends have already been boarding as she will really know what it involves and will be more informed with her decision.

Debra If the children want to go somewhere which is not their lycee de secteur (local lycee) they need to find some specialism only provided by the school that they want to go to - this is usually one of the three exploratory options that they can take - (for us it was film studies in the case of Sarlat or Euro option to get my son to a lycee in Perigueux) my third one doesn't want to go to our lycee de secteur so he has to do his research to find an exploratory option that he will be willing to do.

I think the internat fees are really reasonable - with 3 children you get 20% discount in the Aquitaine so we pay around 350€ per term for full board per child and the one who travels 1 hour away only pays 44€ per term on the train - petrol charges to the bus in the morning and evening would soon add up.

My kids are learning to shop for their own clothes, go to the cinema, figure out the price of the cheapest biscuits in the local supermarket and I know that they have to be in the internat by 6.30pm - more freedom to explore the world than at home but less freedom to stay out late ;)

I was a French boarding schools from age 11 to 18, I can't say that everything was bad, but I definitely wouldn't want my daughter to be at an "internat".

There is more flexibility now than in my days, but you still have to go to bed and get up at assigned times, manage your homework on your own, eat horrible food and then gorge on Nutella and cheap biscuits at night because you're hungry.

Like Catharine, I would be happy to have my daughter with me, at home for several more decades, however, you might not want her to commute by bus every day as it is pretty exhausting, lessons starting at 8am and finishing late as they do in France with plenty of homework....

Additionally, 2nde is a tricky class, it seems pretty easy and you get more freedom so a lot of students get into an over relaxed attitude about studying, you might be a little slow in realizing this if your daughter is away from home 5 days a week....

Hi Karen, my Son is only 46 days old so not quite at that stage yet but I was attending George Watsons College which is a private school in Edinburgh and had a boarding school. I had many friends who were boarders and they seemed to really miss home and their parents. I would recommend that you try the bus or other alternatives before boarding her. Whatever you decide, best of luck and hope it all works out for you and family. Regards Ralph

I used to get 3 buses to school when I was 15...a little hopper type bus (15 mins) then an intercity bus (50 mins) and then another hopper (less than 10 mins)...I was tired when I got home each day (though I still went out at the weekend of course!) but I wanted to stay at my school after we'd moved house and that meant travelling a lot between 15 &18. To be honest, I reckon it put me in good stead for the commuting I had to do in my working life - 1.5 to 2 hours each way most days which didn't seem bad as then I was in the comfort of my own car...

I am in the 'bus' camp - and I take on board the cage is probably a good time to design that into our renovation plans...


I hope the pay off will be that they come back during the holidays and when they settle down they will come and visit (we are converting our attic which was probably a little premature :) )

We have always been a nomad family - mum came to the UK from Switzerland, married and never went back except when they could afford the fare - once every 4 years, My hubby left Ireland and met me in London and I was from Lancashire so none of us see each other much but we phone lots - I must say it is a much better relationship with my parents than my brothers who left home to get married, all live relatively close to home and struggled in their 20's with their relationships.

Perhaps I,m a bit too innocent to think that the kids want to come back to the Dordogne for their hollies and you know better the reality Shirley...

I have one daughter who is at Lycée 2.5hrs away so the internat was the only option - she loves it, loves making new friends though she says she is shy. She has to be in by 6.30 or 7pm and after their meal they must work till 9pm when they can use the showers. Lights out at 10pm but in fact that means she has to be quiet - of course she spends plenty time texting but wifi is not available (thank goodness). There is a TV room, weekly Zumba and probably some other activities.

My son is in an internat an hour away. He enjoys the school but can't wait to be home at the weekend because he doesn't enjoy the internat - not that he hates it but just that everything is very structured and they are not allowed out after 6.30 or whatever and that his supervisors are not to his liking !

Both come home and are polite (no more door slamming adolescent tantrums), are really appreciative when you have got them out of a hole and are a real pleasure to pick up at the station on a Friday night. In fact I now spend more time chatting to them than I used to when they were at home and sloped off into their rooms.

Both complain about the food though my daughter's internat do salads and healthy things particularly in summer (however she has food allergies and can only eat cooked food :( which includes overcooked pasta, canned veg etc so not so brilliant). My son's lycee tends to do lots of burgers which is equally less appealing.

If the internat is far away bringing the child home can be difficult if they are ill. Also we are indebted to help of all my daughters classmates allowing her to stay at their houses the times that the internat was on strike or when the kids were not allowed to sleep there after going to the theatre (proposed by the school). She certainly refused to stay with the 'correspondants' that we were obliged to find in Bordeaux on such occasions.

If a child struggles to make friends or to do their school work, or is homesick the internat can be sheer hell - my daughter roomed with two girls like that and they both left the school which was a shame because the course was very rare.

I hope that my youngest son will go into an internat next year but not in our local lycée because I have heard that the boys are not well supervised their. However if the child keeps their head down and studies they can keep out of trouble. If not then it may be a hard way of learning a lesson??

I am lucky that I work from home and my hours are flexible, so I can do taxi quite a lot of the time if need be. Fundamentally, I am not ready to give her up just yet, even if it is just for a few nights a week. I know she will have to leave me/home quite soon for uni. And although a cage to keep her here would be tempting, at 18 I think I will be OK ish with that. Just not yet .....

Karen, depending where you live, the quality of the boarding school... If good, the benefits for your daughter will be huge. Ours stayed for 2 years in CIV, Valbonne, she developed a much more self-supporting personality. We had been reluctant as parents but have had to work abroad in different countries. Thanxs to skype etc all was pretty much under control. French boarding-schools are certainly good and, in comparison to UK, Swiss or Germany schools, not so expensive. I would recommend a boarding school when you as the parents both are working and most of all when your daughter will stay to study, to live & to work later on here in France. If you are not working enjoy to play chauffeur for a 15 years old, but better let her take the bus, 30 min are a good time to revise...

The other thing to remember is that time passes so fast that before you know it, she will be 18 and (neither of you!) will have any choice in the matter. I'd have mine at home until they were at least 35 given the option...

We recently watched the last James Gandolfini film, Enough Said and there is a wonderful line where he asks the mum how her daughter is doing after her first term at college. She replies (deadpan) "Oh she's doing great, course she's not going back after Christmas. I built a cage.." It struck a bit of a chord as our eldest had just finished her first term at uni!

Thank you all for taking the time to write about your experiences. I think one thing my daughter has not taken into account is how grim it could be. I think she has an idea it will somehow be glamorous. And I think more than most, she would miss her home comforts, the food, the Sky TV, movies, laptops and tablets etc. Hopefully as we go to the open days in the next few weeks she will see what the reality of boarding is and if most of her friends are boarding, it won't be long before they start moaning about it. Maybe we will do a mix of bus and car, as and when we can. I’m afraid I don’t agree VW that there is no real difference in maturity between a 15 yo and an 18 yo. In my opinion the difference is huge, 3 years is a very long time in a childs life. By the time they are moving out to go to uni, they are far better equipped to deal with the world, even if they have lead a more sheltered life. I will just have to deal with the sulking from now till Sept .......

I'd agree with Catharine, start with the bus and see how it goes, not because I think 15 is too young to be away from home (I was a boarder from the age of 4 yes four until A levels in the UK and we didn't go home at weekends) but because it is GRIM!! Most of my pupils (Lycée) have at least half an hour on the bus, some longer, and they seem to manage.

I would put her on the bus. She will cope fine and use the time to get work done or just chill. Way less stressful for her and you!

All of my daughter's friend who have had to board ( no buses as over an hour away) have hated it and all tell me they would prefer not to. It is very controlled and restrictive in terms of meal times etc.