What to look for in a Boarding School

After researching boarding schools and the decision is made to send a teen to a Therapeutic Boarding School parents are often faced with the arduous task of finding the right one for their teen. During their search parents will contact the boarding schools of their choice to start the research process. This process is often very difficult for parents because they are not sure what they are looking for. Below we have compiled a list of helps to assist parents in locating a school that will work for their family.

First, many parents want to start locally to find help for their teen. There are some problems that could result from picking a program based on location rather than merit. One of the problems that parents could be faced with is not finding the best school that could help their teen to change his or her life. Too often we received the distressed call from parents who have had a bad experience with another program and end up enrolling their child at Turning Winds Academic Institute because the first program was not the right one. Not all programs are created equal, and while there are many good teen boarding schools and programs that work, there are also many that don’t work because they do not provide the structure and environment needed for teens to begin the changing process.

Second, many parents try the drug rehab route. We enroll many students each year who have been in one or more programs previous to coming to Turning Winds Academic Institute. Often the parents have sent their child to a rehab of some sorts that is closer to home. In each case the result has been that the teen gained more bad friends at the program because of the lack of structure found in most rehab centers. The aftermath usually was their teen came out with more “bad connections” than they went in with. Be careful about sending your child to a rehab as most of these types of programs are too unstructured and are often filled with many people who are merely fulfilling court requirements. Also many rehabs have adults and juveniles cohabitating in the same facility.

Third, the boarding schools environment is key. Over the past decade we have seen many good programs and have also seen too many programs that are way too extreme on the discipline side of the spectrum, or too extreme on the permissiveness side of the spectrum. Either extreme will not produce the results the parents are looking for. Let me explain. When teens are in an environment that is too punitive often resentment and outward rebellion follow and the desired change is not made. Many teens report that when they disciplined by someone shouting, yelling, or who is otherwise angry with them, their internal desire is to resist doing anything that person wants them to do. This is not good when the goal is to help the child to change.

On the other hand, the lack of structure can be just as damaging as being too tough. We have visited therapeutic boarding schools that do not provide the structure needed to keep unwanted behaviors out of the environment. The end result could be males and females having inappropriate relationships, talk of past and future drug and alcohol use, fighting, depression, anger, defiance, etc. Sound familiar? What some parents hoped would be a life changing experience for their teen ended up being a disaster of similar proportions as to what happened at home. How did this happen? It was the wrong type of environment. This leads into the fourth item to help parents in choosing a good therapeutic boarding school.

Fourth, visit the teen program before making the final decision. If at all possible, we always recommend that parents come and visit us before enrolling their child. Unfortunately, most parents are not able to visit before enrolling their child because of life’s many demands. The best way to determine the quality of a program is to visit and meet with the staff and students. This allows the parent to meet the staff and students that their son or daughter will be living with and to get a first-hand feel for the environment. We always tell parents that the “proof is in the pudding,” and the kids in any school or program are the “pudding.” Chances are if the kids are doing well it is a good program. If many of the kids dress, act, speak, and look like they are still struggling then there is a good chance that the program is not the one for your child. Recently one parent visited us after a week of researching and visiting other programs in Utah and Arizona and made the decision to send his daughter to our program as he was so impressed with the openness and maturity of our students. He made a comment that if we could do this with all of our students then this was the place for his daughter. We can and do help change the lives of the teenagers we work with everyday. We invite you to come and see our program and meet our staff and students to see for yourself what makes our therapeutic boarding school so successful in helping to change teens’ lives.

Fifth, is the school academically accredited and will the credits transfer back home? The last thing parents want to find out, after their child graduates from the boarding school they have been attending, is that their child is another year behind in school because the academic credits will not transfer to the school they will be attending. It doesn’t take long to check out the accreditation to see if it is legitimate. Turning Winds Academic Institute is accredited by Northwest Association of Accredited Schools.

Sixth, does the boarding school provide professional staff? A good therapeutic boarding school will provide licensed therapists as well as licensed and certified teachers to work with its students. Although it probably does not happen often, some schools will try and pass off uneducated staff to do the job of teachers or therapists.

There is an art to influencing teens to change. Teens cannot be forced to change, but change will come with the right people, and the right environment. Here at Turning Winds Academic Institute we change lives every day. We know what it takes and are good at bringing about the much sought after change in all the teens, and families, we work with. Call us now to see how we can help you with your son or daughter at this important time in their lives. 1-800-845-1380


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