right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

Which school is best/worst for . . .

massmomof1massmomof1 31 replies3 threads Junior Member
edited April 2012 in Prep School Parents
I was wondering if people could weigh in on this question: Which prep schools in New England are best/worst for a helicopter parent, and why?

I won't disclose whether I am or am not a helicopter parent, but responses will have some bearing on how we see the schools mentioned!


Thanks
edited April 2012
40 replies
Post edited by massmomof1 on
· Reply · Share
«1

Replies to: Which school is best/worst for . . .

  • dodgersmomdodgersmom 6467 replies846 threads Senior Member
    Deerfield - limited parent involvement in school activities
    St. Mark's, Governor's - lots of day parent involvement in school activities
    · Reply · Share
  • PeriwinklePeriwinkle 3403 replies105 threads Senior Member
    I don't agree that there's "lots of day parent involvement in school activities at St. Mark's." I would deem the "helicopter parent" ratio to be near nil. I have the impression that the most involved parents concentrate on attending sports events. (Many parents of boarders will also make the effort to attend home and away games.) And even there, "involved" = ever seen on campus, with the exception of school performances, official school events, and picking up and dropping off children. And, there aren't many day parents at all, as many of the "day students" are the children of faculty, who live on campus.

    The school does ask parents (perforce day parents) to assist in chatting with applicants in the admissions parlor, and parents do volunteer to help on revisit days. This may lead to the impression that there are lots of very involved day parents.

    Governor's does have lots of day parent involvement.
    · Reply · Share
  • dodgersmomdodgersmom 6467 replies846 threads Senior Member
    Actually, correction for St. Mark's - I meant "local" parent involvement and not "day" parent, because many of the parents seen in the admissions parlor (as Periwinkle notes above) are in fact the local parents of boarding students. But it was my understanding when I visited that they are also involved in other "PTA-type" activities . . . baking treats for exam days, for example.
    · Reply · Share
  • PeriwinklePeriwinkle 3403 replies105 threads Senior Member
    Exam bakes are twice a year, during finals. Boarding parents can arrange to mail treats to school. There is a parent who coordinates the bounty. Parents can also bake or donate treats for concerts on campus, athletic teas, and teacher appreciation events.

    A list of volunteer opportunities: Volunteer Descriptions - St. Mark's School. You'll notice that many of the opportunities are off-campus, such as hosting potluck dinners or assisting the development department.

    There are a few activities which would bring willing parents into contact with students. Parents can volunteer to transport students to medical appointments. I don't think many parents volunteer for this, as the school will provide paid drivers, for a very reasonable fee, and my child has never been driven by a parent to an appointment. Acting as a croupier at the annual Casino Night, and chaperoning the VI form dance after-party would also bring parents into contact with students.

    Oh yes, they also arrange flowers. A parent attends the PINS (parents independent school network) meetings, and reports the results.

    At any rate, there's a small and stalwart group which generously donate their time to the school, and the current parents' association heads are wonderful, but there's not "lots of local parent involvement in school activities."
    · Reply · Share
  • opsops 772 replies46 threads Member
    Without getting into specifics, I would think it depends on your definition of a helicopter parent. I believe all schools enjoy parent participation, to a point. It is boarding school after all and my question would be how much the son or daughter wants your presence on a regular basis, especially as a day student. I don't think it would be long before many faculty would go whipee it's Mrs. Massmom and then walk the other way. I do know personally of a self proclaimed helo parent and last time I spoke with her she was ticked off because she felt the school was dodging her, you think.
    · Reply · Share
  • Mango15Mango15 771 replies44 threads Member
    ........is this really a deciding factor in your child's college choice? You don't need days and activites to go visit your child, if your child wants you there he or she will ask you stop by for lunch or to accompany them to a sports game.

    Ha if my parents wanted me to decide where I'm going to spend the next 4 years of my life based on whether they can suffocate me or not, I'd laugh in their face. I think this is VERY selfish.
    · Reply · Share
  • Mango15Mango15 771 replies44 threads Member
    ^I thought this was for university. My statement still stands though.
    · Reply · Share
  • sonoratoosonoratoo 52 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I would be inclined to believe that there is not a single boarding school that is good for a helicopter parent. IMHO, if a parent still felt the need to be that involved with their child's day-to-day operations, the needs would be better met at a "day only" school. As a parent of a BS student and former attendee of a boarding school, I think one of the great things about boarding school is that: the children are able to learn to function on a day-to-day basis without their parents help yet they are still under the watchful and caring eyes of adults. I do believe there is a wide range of "adult supervision" depending on the school choice. In general, larger schools offer less adult supervision and therefore require a more self-starting student. So, if one were looking for heavier adult supervision, I would think small school.
    · Reply · Share
  • PhotoOpPhotoOp 1181 replies13 threads Senior Member
    Exeter sucks. Helicopter or no, they barely keep in contact with parents at all. Perhaps if your child has a really good advisor who calls you occasionally, but otherwise all you get are the term report cards and they actually send you a letter, in the mail, if your kid has accumulated X number of dickies. In the mail. Like what are you supposed to do with that? It would be nice if we got an e-mail for every unexcused absence, that way we can get our on kid sooner rather than later.

    They have added a parent portal this year but it's still just the same info on the website only you can look at the report card there. Oh, and you can pay your bill on the parent portal. Lucky us.
    · Reply · Share
  • dodgersmomdodgersmom 6467 replies846 threads Senior Member
    Periwinkle - I stand corrected. All I had to go on was my limited contact with the parents in the admissions parlor. What you describe is still quite a bit more involvement than one would find at some other schools, however.
    · Reply · Share
  • PeriwinklePeriwinkle 3403 replies105 threads Senior Member
    Some schools are geographically isolated. I also think schools vary in how thick the "bubble" is. St. Mark's has a great community. The campus doesn't generally empty out on weekends (from my child's description,) with the exception of the parents' weekend, and I think, Easter, when they encourage students to see their families. The adults kids come into contact with, on a day-to-day basis, are the teachers and their spouses.

    But, you know, I think of "helicopter parent" as being someone who swoops in to protect their child from disciplinary consequences, and badgers teachers about tests, etc. I've never heard of that happening. In comparison to our local public schools, the St. Mark's parents allow their children independence. If there's a problem, the school will contact parents, but I don't have any sense that parents are meddling in academic or extracurricular events.
    My child's had fine advisors. They've been responsive when we've contacted them, but our child hasn't had major disciplinary issues, (thank heavens!) so I can't comment from personal experience on that side of things.

    A few children are serious athletes, and their parents may pick them up for off-campus sports obligations.
    · Reply · Share
  • PelicanDadPelicanDad 525 replies11 threads Member
    re sonoratoo's point: I recall distinctly at a new parents' orientation meeting on dropoff day this past fall, one parent asked an LC Dean, "When do we get to get access to our kids' syllabi and assignments online?" to which the bemused Dean started his response, "There's a reason why we call ourselves an independent school..."
    · Reply · Share
  • PA-CPA-C 922 replies38 threads Member
    PhotoOp- So sorry you haven't been pleased with Exeter. I agree they put alot of demands on the kids to be independent and that was very hard on me the first year...letting go of day to day involvement. However, I think it was good for my son in the end. He's blossomed into a much more socially confident person than he would have otherwise. Things like having to solve his own problems- whether by going to speak with the bookstore about a return, applying for an on campus job by himself or making his own appointments at the health center...all those things were exactly what he needed to learn to do. I definitely can see where Exeter gets its sink or swim reputation sometimes but I also have been very pleased with the response from my son's advisor. I email him whenever I have a concern - and he responds within 24 hours after checking in with DS and his teachers if needed. So the support is there at Exeter IF the child and/or parents ask for it.
    · Reply · Share
  • PhotoOpPhotoOp 1181 replies13 threads Senior Member
    PA-C - Believe me, I've asked for it. But she's done now, graduating in June. And I can't wait!
    · Reply · Share
  • classicalmamaclassicalmama 2244 replies17 threads Senior Member
    I agree with both PhotoOp and PA-C. We've been fortunate to have good advisers who call and email us quickly when we have a concern and, more importantly, give our kid the help he needs. But I know that's not the case for lots of parents. Exeter knows this as well; it's one of the Principal's main priorities to improve the advising process for students (and, one would hope, for parents).

    Anyway, we're counting our lucky stars that our kid has had two caring advisers--and we have been able to get our two cents in a couple of times when we felt it was absolutely necessary. But, caring adviser or no, Exeter is definitely NOT a school for a helicopter parent. Good place to send a kid who (a) easily communicates with the other adults in his life without his/her parents running interference and (b) communicates well with his/her parents without prodding.
    · Reply · Share
  • NEKreaderNEKreader 48 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Plenty of schools involve current parents in some way in the admissions process, including (in our experience) Brooks, NMH, St. Mark's, SPS, Miss Porters, and Concord, where a parent gives the prospective student's parent a tour. Middlesex and Brooks both have parent associations that meet with some regularity; NMH has a parents council that meets twice a year with school administrators to discuss different topics. If you've been to a crew race you know that just about every school has crew parents who set up a tent with enough food to feed an army. SPS parents hosted a reception on their yacht for parents and alumni a few years ago; Parents host teams for spring break training trips. Concord has lots of opportunities for parents to volunteer. Exeter has opportunities for parents to volunteer as a host family for international students. I can't imagine there's a school that doesn't involve parents in fundraising in some capacity. Parents will often participate in a head of school search. If you want to be involved in boarding school life, to the extent that geography, funds, family situation allow, you probably can find something at many schools. Probably more at some schools than at others.

    However, most schools are also going to stress your child's independence, learning from mistakes etc. Certainly if you have concerns you can contact your child's advisor, but helicopter, to me, suggests really being involved in the day to day, and most schools don't have a place for that.
    · Reply · Share
  • massmomof1massmomof1 31 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for all of the interesting comments - and I am looking for secondary schools not university. However, I think I should have phrased my question differently. Basically what I am looking for is an understanding of which SCHOOLS act like helicopter parents! While I agree with the concept of "in loco parentis" I would want the school she goes to to have the same "parenting" philosophy as we do. As I review things like discipline systems, amount of monitoring, etc. there seems to be a VERY large difference across schools. Personally, I am looking for a school for my D which would NOT act like a helicopter school. We have raised our D to be responsible and independent and I would not like to see her in an environment that treats kids like they are unable to make the right decision unless there are negative consequences. I would prefer a school that treats kids like they have the ability to make the right decision because it IS the right thing to do. Am I wrong in my assumption that schools do vary in this? If they do, which do you think would best meet my goals?
    · Reply · Share
  • DAndrewDAndrew 1168 replies48 threads Senior Member
    massmom, search for posts with "swim or sink", "pressure cooker" etc. using the search function. Usually the big name schools bear those labels in this forum. You can't miss them.
    · Reply · Share
  • classicalmamaclassicalmama 2244 replies17 threads Senior Member
    It's an interesting question either way--but the clarification helps!

    My sense (though we admittedly only have experience with one school) is that all prep/boarding schools expect students to act independently and responsibly, but some do give students more responsibility than others.

    As you look at schools, I think the telling differences come in the extent to which schools require study halls; have mandatory (and enforced!) lights out and dorm check-ins; control internet access, etc. I think the way schools schedule classes can also be an indicator--one of the very non-helicoptery things about Exeter is the way students have sports and free periods scheduled at various times of day, so that an adult who runs across a kid walking across the school grounds halfway through the first class period will have no way of knowing whether that child is (a) late for class, (b) early for class because his A block was free or (c) on his way to breakfast. If kids miss classes or otherwise break school rules, it will catch up to them eventually, but day-to-day, no one's looking over their shoulders to make sure they're doing what they should be doing. So given the parameters you've just described, Exeter would be a great school for your daughter.
    · Reply · Share
  • PeriwinklePeriwinkle 3403 replies105 threads Senior Member
    Massmomof1, I'm not certain I grasp your personal goals for school discipline.

    Let's see. All the boarding schools our children applied to (10 in all) have honor codes. All the schools give students much more freedom and responsibility than those students would have at home. Sometimes reading the handbooks is deceptive, unless one reads them carefully. For example, a school may write, "a student needs permission to leave campus." "Campus" may have an extensive definition--it may encompass an area as large as five miles from the "actual" campus.

    They all had firm rules about expected student behavior. They all had demanding schedules. The day's structure is predetermined.

    Most schools grant students more privileges as they mature. In general, freshmen will have the most restrictive limits set on their day. They will have earlier check-ins, they must attend breakfast, they have more supervision in the dorms from teachers and older students.
    I would prefer a school that treats kids like they have the ability to make the right decision because it IS the right thing to do.

    I would say that all the schools I've visited do assume that kids are able to make the right decision. On the other hand, they all know that kids can and will make mistakes. Some schools have fewer rules. All schools, however, have disciplinary procedures which they will use if students violate the honor code. So, even though a school may have fewer explicit restrictions on day-to-day limits, the school will still set consequences for violations.

    For example, you'll notice students will often drop backpacks in piles. They are relying upon the general lack of theft at school. If a student is caught stealing, though, they're kicked out. A student can be kicked out for lying--because it violates the school's honor code. It is much worse to lie about a misdeed than to admit it. The lie will get you in much deeper trouble.

    Does this help?
    · Reply · Share
This discussion has been closed.

Recent Activity