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Which school is best/worst for . . .

massmomof1massmomof1 Registered User Posts: 34 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!

Post edited by massmomof1 on

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

  • dodgersmomdodgersmom Registered User Posts: 7,311 Senior Member
    Deerfield - limited parent involvement in school activities
    St. Mark's, Governor's - lots of day parent involvement in school activities
  • PeriwinklePeriwinkle Registered User Posts: 3,505 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.
  • dodgersmomdodgersmom Registered User Posts: 7,311 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.
  • PeriwinklePeriwinkle Registered User Posts: 3,505 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."
  • opsops Registered User Posts: 818 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.
  • Mango15Mango15 Registered User Posts: 815 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.
  • Mango15Mango15 Registered User Posts: 815 Member
    ^I thought this was for university. My statement still stands though.
  • sonoratoosonoratoo Registered User Posts: 52 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.
  • PhotoOpPhotoOp Registered User Posts: 1,194 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.
  • dodgersmomdodgersmom Registered User Posts: 7,311 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.
  • PeriwinklePeriwinkle Registered User Posts: 3,505 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.
  • PelicanDadPelicanDad Registered User Posts: 536 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..."
  • PA-CPA-C Registered User Posts: 960 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.
  • PhotoOpPhotoOp Registered User Posts: 1,194 Senior Member
    PA-C - Believe me, I've asked for it. But she's done now, graduating in June. And I can't wait!
  • classicalmamaclassicalmama Registered User Posts: 2,261 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.
This discussion has been closed.