Photo by Austin Pacheco on Unsplash

Searching for the right school for your child? On the list of ‘must-haves’ for the perfect school, have you considered adding ‘strong peer group’? Distance from home, school fees, subject selection and co-curricular activities may all be the go-to on your checklist, but Headmaster of The Heights School, Alvaro de Vicente, is proud to know that the kind of friendships on offer at his school are drawing parents to enrol their sons.

It’s a common and natural worry that parents have, that alongside excelling at school, sport and other extracurricular activities, is my child in the right friend group? Are they making friends at all and are they good friendships?

Alvaro de Vicente shared in Episode 6 of The Parent-Teacher Project:

“I had an experience many years ago at an event here at the school, where a lot of parents were at this dinner but also people outside of the community. And the table next to mine, someone outside of the community asked one of the parents of The Heights “So, why do you bring your sons to The Heights?”

So I eavesdropped as much as I could…and she said “Well, when I was looking for a school I was looking to buy a peer group.”

And then she clarified, the academics have to be a certain level, and this and that, but frankly, she said, “I knew that wherever I took my sons, that’s where they would develop their friends.”

Even from their earliest years at school, a child’s character can be profoundly influenced by their friends. Alvaro’s three key characteristics of friendships which make the case for making good friends as a child:

  1. “It civilises boys. Friendships provide a set of rules of behaviour, that the kid has to live by.”
  2. “It fortifies boys, it makes them stronger. Because you’ve got to deal with all kinds of temperaments and characters and overcome problems and so forth.”
  3. “Thirdly, it helps them grow in empathy. It helps them develop the sensitivity for someone else’s problems, and the desire to help that person overcome that problem.”

So while you’re shopping for a school, don’t forget to add the importance of whether or not my child will make not just friends, but the right kind of friends.

Alvaro de Vicente has plenty of other parenting tips after more than 20 years of experience working at The Heights School where he’s intentionally working with parents to raise intelligent students with a strong sense of character. Listen now to his conversation on the podcast.

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