Overcoming my fear of boarding

Sarah Williams (current Chorister parent)

I hated the idea of boarding. I don’t know exactly why as I knew precious little about it. When my son’s current school suggested a choristership, I spent ages trying to find ones that didn’t require him to board. Then I thought again, and researched; and it dawned on me that perhaps the chorister experience would be enhanced by the thing I was trying to avoid. We visited King’s and I realised just how wrong my perceptions had been: the environment was warm, friendly and lively and both my son and I knew it was right.

He loved boarding straight from the beginning. My son is an only child and boarding gave him the opportunity to spend more time with friends than he would have had living at home, and it also simplified his life because of the many choir commitments (I didn’t have to drive backwards and forwards taking him to rehearsals like the parents whose children were choristers at day schools). Some of his peers found the transition more difficult, but only fleetingly so, and I was amazed how quickly everyone adapted to and came to love their new life.

At King’s the boarding requirement increases as the boys get closer to becoming full choristers. They begin by boarding Sunday to Friday night when in year 4, then in year 5 they initially board on alternate weekends and then increase their involvement as the year progresses. This is a clever tactic as by the time my son was in year 5 he felt very much that he was missing out on the action by not boarding full-time. Saturday nights are particularly fun as it is film night and matron gives the boys extra tuck! Summer evenings include swimming, cricket and barbecues, which are extremely popular with all the boys.

The experience of boarding has changed our relationship in so many ways. Contrary to what people will tell you, your son will not feel abandoned, he will gain independence and learn to work as a team. You will not have to nag him about prep, instrumental practice and too much time in front of the TV as the boarding house team will teach him the skills he requires to get these things done on time. Because you are not living in each others’ pockets you have plenty of things to talk to each other about when you walk him back from Chapel after evensong or when you have lunch together at the weekends. Home time becomes precious and you both learn to appreciate it more than ever before. Time together becomes more fun, because prep and music practice are under control.

The chorister adventure is one for parents as well as pupils. I have made friendships with other parents that I know will last forever and experienced a pride in my son that I could never have dreamed of before he came to King’s.

I know that finally, when our amazing chorister journey comes to an end, my son will have acquired a set of skills that will prepare him for whatever challenges life throws at him.

Sarah’s son is a chorister in Year 8.