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Lessons Learned

After two months in Mexico I have learned a few things.

I have learned to speak a little Spanish, enough that I can go to the market, greet the shopkeeper, ask for what I need and even ask for help. I know a few people by name and enjoy exchanging small pleasantries – so long as we stay in the present tense!

I have learned that things don’t always go as planned. Once, I was unable to use credit or debit for a bus ticket and a stranger bought one for me on the simple condition that I help someone else in need when I can.

But the most important thing I have learned is “you don’t know what you don’t know” and that is ok. At every turn there is someone who does know and you just need to ask for their help. It turns out that the same lesson that I have learned is the purpose for my being here.

Finding the right boarding school for your child is an overwhelming and challenging adventure and in order to find the right fit you will need to ask a lot of questions. Some questions are simple and some are more complex; the most common questions I have been asked have to do with school breaks and campus visits, because parents want to be able to see their children.

It might surprise you to hear this, but a major factor in how easy it is for families to stay connected is location.

Where your child’s school is will determine what time zone they are in and when you can SKYPE, text and chat with them. You may want to see the school musical livestreaming on the website or connect the moment a soccer game ends to get the final score. Having the opportunity to connect in real time will make everyone feel more connected.

Also, you should consider the ease of travel. When the Christmas holiday comes along and your child returns home, perhaps flying alone for the first time, it will be important that it is not stressful and not too long. You might want to think about an opportunity for your family to visit your child at boarding school. Perhaps a visit to the campus for a day before the Spring Break and head to Whistler for a ski holiday? Or maybe a family vacation to Toronto, see a play, a hockey game and a day at your child’s boarding school when the break is over?

I like to suggest that you get out a map, a good old fashioned paper map and put it on the kitchen table. Look at the flights from your town or city to the schools you are considering. Look at costs of flights, connections and time zones. It is a great project to not only research the school but the opportunities for exploration, travel and adventure in the area. It is fun to include younger siblings in this exploration so that they have a better understanding of where their brothers and sisters will be and get them excited about the opportunity to visit.

Think about how often you will reasonably visit and how many times your child will return home throughout the year. This will help you narrow down the choices and select a school that is not only a great fit for your child but also one that will allow you to stay connected, visit the campus and have your child travel home for the holidays with ease.

So I will keep practicing my Spanish, watching for that person that needs a little help and you keep asking questions. Include the whole family, put that map on the table and enjoy the journey. Boarding School is an incredible opportunity for your children but it is not just their journey. The whole family can be involved and build relationships not only with house parents, faculty and staff of the school but the families of the many friends that your child will make with fellow boarders from around the world.

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