Parent visits/involvement in boarding schools

First time poster, long-time lurker. I have a rising 7th grader that has been visiting boarding schools and is very interested in this. As a boarding school alum, I am supportive of his interest. As of now, his favorites that we visited are Hotchkiss and Blair.

I am interested to hear other parent’s experiences and perspective on visiting their children’s schools and any involvement. I have heard different takes such as Lawrenceville encourages parent’s involvement on campus whereas other schools (Hill) do not. I have a friend that visited their son at Salisbury every Wednesday and other parents that see their kids much less than that.

Thank you in advance for your input.

We go watch all our kids’ games and staff is always friendly and happy to see us.

However, in terms of soliciting feedback from parents (which I think would make both my kids’ schools better) Nope. Schools don’t seem interested. That’s been a big disappointment. Most of the parents I know have the same opinions but none of us have an avenue for communicating these to the school. Oh, we did get a survey once. Seemed pointless.

Thank you for your reply. I probably should have been clearer in my question regarding “involvement”.

I guess I am trying to determine how often can I or would I be seeing him beyond games? Is it weird to visit 2X a month? 3X? Are there any areas for parents to get involved in secondary schools? At his current private school, there are a lot of opportunities although I can appreciate many of those would not be available at the secondary school level.

We visited our boarding school student every few weeks and took him out to eat with the family. He was not a fan of Sunday brunch at the school so Sundays were a favorite time to have a meal with us. Otherwise they stay pretty busy and want to spend time with their peers when they have free time. Some schools do have parents committees who greet folks during revisit days, do fundraising and perhaps other support activities. I know for some schools with a higher percentage of day students (30%) parents end up going to take pictures before Prom and also serve on a PTO type committee. I have also heard of parents buying a condo near the school, but that may be when they have a couple of students there and live far away. I think it all depends on the school, the student and the parents.

It probably varies by school. At our school, many parents get involved through the Parents Engagement Program. All new families get matched with a current family after M10. The current family stays in touch with the new family throughout the entire first year to offer support and answer questions. There is a weekly Parent Newsletter with info. There are quarterly Parent Engage Webinars on various topics, from housing to academic course selection to mental health to college advising to student engagement, where parents can ask questions ahead of time or after the presentations. There is a Global Parent Seated Meal, where all parents at various locations get together for dinner on the same day. Parents can serve on several committees (Annual Fund, Athletics, etc.) Some parents may offer summer internships to students. There are opportunities for those who want them.

My daughter’s school is 5 hours away so we do not visit as often as we would like but do see her regularly. She is now a senior but our schedule was: late August/Early September move in, Oct-family weekend on campus, November thanksgiving break - (10 days), December- Christmas break 19 days - February - Family weekend on campus, March- Spring Break 19 days, May - pick up/move out. In addition I have gone up for awards, dance performances and this year I will go to help her get ready for prom which is actually a week before pick up. They also have a few long weekends from Friday - Tuesday where they can come home if they want. We are now in the college process and to be honest I am hoping that she is closer to home. We are also pretty lucky that her school has a round trip bus that leaves campus and brings her directly to NYC and my husband meets her and brings her home since he works there.

Our school had ways for parents to engage (a teacher appreciation luncheon, arranging flowers for graduation, putting together an evening event during parents weekend, meetings with livestream on topics"of interest to parents of teens) but by design, there were not regular roles on campus. I think it was intentional - kids who are from further away or whose parents cannot afford to fly in monthly wouldn’t feel left out.

Parents were always welcome at games and performances and could always take their kids, and others, out for a meal (and often a grocery store run!)

Compared to parents at day schools, who seem to continue a relatively high level of involvement, BS parents were pretty effectively disintermediated.

@DaddyHoosier Hotchkiss parent here. If you are relatively close, I would guess you could see your son several times a week. Many parents go to games, so that’s Wednesday and Saturday. We’ve started a tradition of taking our son to Sunday brunch most weeks. He also plays a sport outside of school, so there’s time in the car going to practices (once a week) there.

If you don’t live within an hour or so I would guess that’s the limiting factor.

I think it definitely varies by school. DS has friends whose parents come every weekend and take their kid and his friends to dinner. Many of the local parents volunteer to help with admissions, athletic events, teacher appreciation, weekend activities, etc. there are many parents that know my kid because of their volunteering on campus. So, seeing parents around is no big deal. We live so far away, we can only get up there a few times per year. But we’ve had faculty even offer to excuse DS from class to give him a chance to spend time with us on one of those trips, so his school is obviously very welcoming. I’m not sure every school would be the same.

Agree, depends on the school. Best to get direct feedback from the school and the parents of current students. The school can tell you about family weekends, parent groups, special events and the parents can give you current info about parental involvement. For some parents, it’s never enough and some just want the school to do their job. I’m not interested at all in feedback forms. But I am really interested in knowing that my kid has a good advisor and things can be worked out if needed. I’m also interested in the direction of the school per the head of school ( and resource allocation). I like to think that if there was going to be a huge amount of $ spent on something that I’m really not in support of, that at least the school would have a venue to hear our concerns. So far, have not had a single issue. School has communicated exceedingly well and proactively.

At least last year, Salisbury was providing lunch to parents on Wednesdays before games, and many parents do come for games, though more so on Saturdays. I had envisioned myself occasionally popping up to take DS to dinner if he was having a rough week, but the weekday schedule doesn’t really permit that kind of thing. Like others, we have ended up seeing DS more frequently than expected due to off-season club sports, and we attend the “scheduled” parent events — parent/family weekends and the like. DS would have no time for visitors other than those events and Saturday evening to Sunday afternoon.

There are on and off-campus events and ways for parents to get involved and meet other parents, which will vary school-to-school, and I do think schools want parents to feel engaged and involved. It’s a different feel, though, than at our independent K-8 school.

We are a 4 hour drive from our school and it seems that we see the kids about once every 3-3.5 weeks, whether it be for a school break/long weekend or we go up for a dance performance or musical. Once or twice when my younger children have had a day off on a Monday we’ve gone up just to visit for the weekend and take them to dinner, etc., but usually they’re too busy to spend much time with us. I like the way our school arranges the schedule so that we have long or short “breaks” at regular intervals. Parents are always invited to be on campus for games, performances, etc. and there are volunteer opportunities at admission events, family weekend, etc.

This is really school dependent, the schools within major metro areas and within driving distance tend to have more day students and local boarders so there are always parents on campus. We are a couple hours away, and tend to go to at least one game every week. Sometimes it is home game other times away so we may not actually make it to campus. We try to do dinner after if the kiddo is up for it but does not always work out if there is homework (Wed) or social plans (Sat). Family is welcome at the dining hall for meals before or after games, but it is too embarrassing to be seen eating with your parents there so if we do dinner it is generally in town. That’s the only time I get any real information on what is going on, as kid is not a great phone communicator.

Thank you all for your comments! They are all appreciated and packed with good information.

I think it is also very student dependent as well. Even when my younger 2 were both on campus, I often saw my daughter 2x per week and son once a month.

Thank you all for your comments! They are all appreciated and packed with good information.