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Book Review 

SECOND HOME

A Life in a Boarding School
Edited by: Tim Hillman & Craig Thorn IV
published 1996
Review by: Lon Woodbury
208-267-5550 

The 24-hour a day residential experience is a vital part of highly structured, emotional growth schools and programs for young people who are making poor decisions. Essentially, part of the healing process in an emotional growth school or program is the structure of a school community based on immediate and appropriate consequences for actions of the students. For some children, anything less than a 24-hour a day program allows too many ways to manipulate their way out of consequences.

Although the book Second Home is in the words of students in traditional boarding schools, and thus relate to a less structured and less intense environment than emotional growth schools and programs have, it still gives the flavor of the benefits of a residential environment for teens. The benefits these students talk about are similar benefits students receive from the residential part of highly structured emotional growth schools and programs, just less intense.

For example, students in the book claim that friendships with peers and mentor relationships with adults are deeper in a residential situation than when they were in a day school. This makes sense. A friendship is likely to be more meaningful when it is with a person you attend classes with, room with or down the hall from, and attend school functions with. Each student is forced to spend more time with others, and out of this can come better understanding and appreciation of other individuals, and valuable experience in how to get along with people you have less than favorable reactions to. The residential environment enhances facing consequences of actions. This is considered a benefit of a boarding school, and is absolutely vital to the success of an emotional growth school or program. Many of the children placed in the highly structured school or program were placed because of their inability to form positive and constructive relationships with either peers or adults. It is one of the most important parts of all emotional growth school or program curriculums.

As another example from the book, the sense of starting over by taking a risk in attending boarding school is mentioned by several of the writers in the book. The future is in your hands was mentioned as a tremendous boost to self-esteem and self-confidence as a student is successful in adjusting to this new environment of boarding school. Taking this risk and succeeding gives the student the confidence he/she can handle anything life can send his/her way. The same thing happens with a student in an emotional growth school or program, although more intense and dramatic. In the highly structured emotional growth school or program, the student's first day is in every sense of the word the first day of the rest of their life. The old life that caused so much pain for everyone involved is also one that the student usually is desperately clinging to, and must be left behind before the student can have much of a future. The student who successfully takes that risk feels a confidence he/she had not known for years, if ever. It is then that they gain confidence in their future.

Someday a writer will probably write a similar book about the value of the residential experience of emotional growth schools and programs. Until then, the book Second Home can help parents and referring professionals understand a portion of what a child will experience in an emotional growth school or program.

(Second Home can be purchased through Woodbury Reports and Woodbury Reports Online. See the order form.)