Myfi and Grace Kellahan
When nine year-old Grace Kellahan (Year 4) turned up at the 2019 Dubbo Boarding Schools Expo from West Wyalong with her mum, Myfi, she had with her a carefully handwritten list of questions for the schools they wanted to speak with.
Like many families, the Kellahans put their children at the centre of the decision about boarding school and took their time. Not that it made the decision any easier.
Myfi shared the emotion and thinking behind their research.
…it’s the opportunities that are provided that make that decision a lot easier.
“I came to my first Boarding Schools Expo when my son, Charlie, was 18 months old – he’s now 13 and in his first year of boarding.
“Over the year, the opportunity provided by Boarding Schools Expo to come to one spot and talk to a lot of schools has made it a lot easier.
“The decision to send a child away at 12 years of age, a few hundred kilometres away is still a very hard decision, but it’s the opportunities that are provided that make that decision a lot easier.”
Myfi says the family had discussed the possibilities of boarding for a long time, framing it as something that was an opportunity and privilege given the chance, not a punishment.
While talking to the schools at the Expos is one thing, the Kellahans have followed up by attending the school open days, fete days, gala days and more, getting a feel for the school.
“Two to three years out from having to make the final decision we short-listed it to three or four schools, and did the whole four schools in two days Sydney trip with my husband and son.
“People say when you walk into a school, your gut will tell you it feels like home. Or you walk into a school and you realise this isn’t going to be the right fit.”
The next stage was sitting down to short list what each of them thought were their preferences from one to four. Comparing notes, they found their top two were the same choices.
Working out what’s important
Quite often, they’re logistical questions.
Following on from her brother Charlie’s experience of boarding, Grace is now looking forward to boarding school.
She spent time putting her own questions together for the schools she spoke to at the Expo, covering the things she really wanted an answer to.
“How many Year 7 boarders are there, how many boarders are there in total, is the pool on site and can I play tackle rugby?”
Grace said the schools were pleased and in some cases surprised she’d written her own questions for them, having narrowed down to her interest areas of swimming and tackle rugby.
Myfi says in the past she’s used the links and tips on the Boarding Schools Expo website to put together questions, as well as speaking to other boarding parents about some of the less obvious questions you don’t know about until you experience it.
“Things like what happens when my child gets sick? Am I going to get a phone call every 5 minutes when they have a runny nose, or if they hurt themselves at football and it’s a serious injury, what’s the process? Quite often, they’re logistical questions.”
There’ll be 31 boarding schools at the Tamworth Boarding Schools Expo on 26 and 27 July – the last Expo for 2019. Pre-register to get your free copy of our e-mag, BOARDER, that includes a checklist of questions you can ask the schools when you visit.