Whole Child Education

Boarding: More than just “Living Here”

Not all parents understand that boarding can be a type of education.

If you look at the U.K. and the U.S., the two major overseas study destinations for Chinese students, you’ll find that many of the top private schools are boarding schools. It is not an exaggeration to say that the boarding programme is the core of their holistic education. It allows students to develop independence at an early age.

We consulted Mr. Bruce Thompson, Counsel to the CEO of Dipont Education Group, as well as an expert with nearly 40 years of experience in boarding school management.

According to  decade-long  research by The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), boarding students have a higher satisfaction with their academic experience compared to day students, and colleges usually give higher evaluation to boarding students on their preparation and adaptation after entering colleges. Studies also tell us that boarding students show impressive independence and acceptance of cultural diversity.

In Bruce’s 37 years of experience working with boarding schools, all the points mentioned above have been confirmed. “Boarding students show excellent all-round abilities both during their school days and in their long-term development after graduation.”

If you go through it carefully, you’ll find more advantages of boarding programme:

In a boarding school, every merit is magnified. Learning can happen anywhere. Students need to be more focused on their academic learning, arts activities, sports and even social life …… Compared to day students, boarding students have a longer and richer school day.

In other words, boarding doesn’t mean just food and accommodation for students. It is a type of education.

They have intense academic lessons in daytime, followed by various arts and sports activities. At night they return to their dorms, taking care of their own life, and sometimes participating in social activities in their houses. Homework problems, life troubles and social skill training happen so naturally in an academy dormitory that you don’t even realize that they are actually carefully designed.

An idle weekend is not to be expected after five days of weekday study. The school will offer a proper amount of academic classes, sports games and free time on Saturday. On Sunday, students can choose either to go home or to spend  time with their friends and spend a relaxed half-day, and the school will also organise some trips for shopping or sightseeing. Both choices are available for students.

Thinking  of a boarding programme will often lead to the idea of holistic education, but the logical connection behind is rarely analyzed. Is it simply that more time at school allows overall development?

It is an “full boarding programme” that increases the probability for that.

There was a student at Strathallan who told his parents that he would like to apply for the boarding programme. He has a passion for sports, so he wanted more time for training and games, but not at the cost of his academic performance. He had a clear goal, and what he needed to do is to find a best solution for his situation, creating more time at his disposal …… And now, he’s become an outstanding hockey player for Scotland.

At the very least, “Children will eventually part from their parents, especially those  in our school, most of whom will end up learning in universities abroad. If boarding life is absent in their experience, learning abroad would be a huge challenge for them.” reminded Bruce.

School is a bridge between family and society. It connects the two , and  plays the role of a transitional stage. Here, children will learn about  life in society, and prepare themselves for the future. While in China where boarding culture has still a long way to go, Dipont Huayao collegiate is now exploring a path towards “all-round boarding,” helping Chinese pupils and their parents get ready for the full-of-opportunity foreign school life.

Currently, Dipont Huayao runs a weekday boarding programme. Pupils arrive at school on Sunday and leave on Friday.

“Education is life.” is a quote which Carol, Head of School at Dipont Huayao likes very much and quotes from time to time. It derives from the famous educator Dewey’s remark: “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

This is what Carol says, and this is what she does. Here at Dipont Huayao, education is an all-round programme “which never ends.” Education is never limited to the classrooms. It happens 24×7. “Scholars actually grow up in school, and the school plays a vital part throughout the process of their growth and development.”

The weekday boarding life not only sets rules and boundaries for scholars, but also gives them freedom to make their own decisions. It guides boarding scholars to become independent and self-motivated learners of the future.

Subject teachers participate fully in boarding life to provide academic support, extending scholars’ access to the professional resources in school. Highly experienced subject teachers are on duty during nighttime study hall, ready to answer any questions from scholars. English and Math teachers host English and Math labs, answering questions and joining in group discussions, offering help to those who are temporarily having challenges with their study.

In this aspect of life, the school is breaking down the goals of life skills, social abilities, time management and self-management into tasks and putting them everywhere in scholars’ boarding life.

Before graduation, boarding scholars need to master 47 courses on basic life skills, from the simplest skills such as tidying rooms, changing bulbs and sewing, to more difficult skills such as cooking and laundry, and to higher level abilities such as managing money matters and renting apartments. These are all practical abilities needed for overseas study. Scholars need to do all these themselves and pass the assessment at the end of each course.

On the current foundation, Dipont Huayao is now developing an “All-Round” boarding programme.

There will be a two-day Weekend Experience, which will be an extension of weekday boarding featuring personalization. The school is utilizing experiences of American upper schools to broaden scholars’ horizons and enrich their life with abundant off-campus resources; also, the school provides the PBL and background elevation that Chinese parents would love to see. The goal is to build an all-round boarding system that meets the needs of Chinese families.

Last semester, the school established a partnership with a national centre of biological study, allowing our scholars to learn about top scientific research equipment in China and experience professional scientific experiments. The school also cooperated with a film academy and opened a practice course on film and television, building a platform for scholars to know how to make vlogs.

The acitivity list of the new semester is even more exciting! The school is adding to the list a large number of events and activities, falling under tenmajor categories including genetic engineering, landscape architecture, creative design, art and music and urban security. We’re opening the gates to natural science, advanced technology, traditional culture, the charm of art and vocational information.

Here at Dipont Huayao, we’re building a “5+2” framework of boarding programme, endeavoring to realize the mutual improvement of both academic system and the student life system, developing a truly scholar-oriented all-round boarding pattern.


Having started boarding life at an early age, independence is not a problem for Dave. But not until he came to Dipont Huayao did he understand the broader meaning of boarding.

The wide variety of life blocks here is an excellent chance for young scholars to explore themselves. Dave used to focus on canoeing, but here he opened himself to badminton and basketball. His parents were taken aback when he told them he had been chosen for the school basketball team.

They’re surprised by Dave’s huge progress in these two sports; what’s more, the teacher’s comment was unexpected by them: “He always shows good leadership in the team, uniting team members together, which is a precious quality in team sports.”

What’s even more gratifying for his parents is Dave’s self-motivation developed during his exploration. Now, Dave will play basketball with his dad or do shooting practice himself everyday right after he gets home. Why would a child need to be pushed when doing something he really loves?

Another thing that impressed Dave’s mom is that his storage organizational skills have been significantly improved after he came to Dipont Huayao. His desk and wardrobe have never been a mess  since, with all his stuff  put in good order. This change happened, to a large extent, under the influence of his roommates. “At his age, peers already have greater influence on him than parents. I’m happy that he’s improving with his classmates, friends and his seniors and juniors.” said Dave’s mom.

What is also in good order now is Dave’s life. He has found good balance between his study and hobbies at school, and he keeps well-organized schedules for his holidays.

Last semester, Risson, a day scholar, had his first experience of dorm life during a Weekend Experience –

That day, Risson realized his dream of visiting a DJI store. He’s always been interested in drones and has a DJI drone of his own at home. But in the store, he tried many types he’s never seen, and learned how the drones work. He assembled, controlled and even programmed a robot himself, and took it to a battle. That day, he found fun with drones he never knew before. Those machines, the crystallization of math, physics, industrial technology and informational knowledge, planted a seed in Risson’s mind. After that, Risson and his teachers and classmates visited the Shanghai Astronomy Museum, which is famous for its hot tickets. What’s more, he even challenged himself to try wilderness survival for the first time.

Will he participate in Weekend Experience next semester? When asked, Risson gave an affirmative answer with no hesitation.