Helping You Define Your Lifestyle

How to Pick the Right Boarding School

Having a great education sets the foundation for success. Statistics show that those who receive a great education, on average do much better in just about all measures of life.

There are many approaches parents take to ensure their children receive a great education. Some choose home schooling which allows them to control every aspect of their child’s education from curriculum to the amount of hours spent every day on school work. Some parents choose to put their kids in a formalized learning environment controlled by educators who have a track record for getting great results.

Both of these approaches can work well depending upon the child. But what is certain, is that children do better academically when they have few distractions and are literally living in an environment built to support learning.

This is perhaps why boarding schools consistently graduate the world’s top students. They offer a completely planned out education strategy and a setting that is proven to create high performing students.

But like everything in life, not all boarding schools are created equal and parents interested in sending a child to a boarding school needs to study their options and have a checklist for deciding on the right school. Here are some of the items to include on your checklist:

Educational Credentials

At the heart of any great school is its academic track record, so you will want to examine the education credentials of each boarding school you are considering. It should reveal a school that has top tier teaching curriculum, highly credentialed teachers and a large percentage of the student body that is excelling in classes.

For those who are not excelling in their classes, there should a support system in place that gets to the bottom of why and corrects these deficiencies in a very systematic and deliberate manner.

Further you should find that students are being accepted in high numbers at the top universities and there should be a number of alumni that have gone on to have standout careers in their chosen fields. All of this information should be made available by the school either as an introduction to their approach and accomplishments in this area or upon your request.

Recognized Leaders in Their Specialty Areas

Many boarding schools specialize in a particular subject or subjects. There are schools that are renowned for graduating future politicians and others that excel at creating future business leaders. There are boarding schools with performing arts programs that are the industry standard, and others who graduate top scientists. Make sure if you are interviewing a school that has a particular specialty area, that they have a great reputation for graduating successful professionals in that industry.

A Large Number of Students are Boarders

Practically every boarding school also has students that are day students, meaning those that go home in the afternoons and are not on the school campus during the weekends. So you want to make sure that there is a large enough amount of students that actually stay at the school to ensure that your child will have company during the evenings and weekends. Being far away from home with no one around can be extremely taxing and disorienting on young people. Without lots of other kids boarding, there will be fewer activities available for them to partake in, and fewer friends for them to make. So ask the school about the number of students who are boarders.

Appropriate Values and Traditions

Many boarding schools have been around for decades and some for hundreds of years. During their time in existence they develop an ethos or set of characteristics that come to define the school. Some schools are regarded as very tough and stringent regarding academics, others have a strong record of compassion, while others have a reputation for developing creative skills in students. You should understand this ethos and decide if it fits with what you want for your child.

Focus on Extra-curricular Activities

When your child is not in class or studying there will be considerable free time. Boarding schools try and fill this time with productive activities. You need to be sure that there are enough of the type of activities that will appeal to your child, going on all year long at the school.

Most boarding schools have excellent facilities for music, sports and other types of activities on campus. The school should offer all sorts of group activities built around these facilities. This means singing and music groups, sports teams, drama productions, debate groups, and others, and students should be strongly encouraged to join.

There is also an opportunity to work within the community around the school as a volunteer. These types of activities give students the chance to meet new people and make new friends and develop character. They also build student’s character and school record, which will be looked on positively by universities.

Deciding where to send your child to school is a big challenge. When you add the need to ensure they are also cared for well while they learn, it complicates things even more. Do your homework and you will learn information that will help you make a good choice.

How to Use Poker as a Mindfulness Practice

Most common mindfulness practices are fundamentally simple. Things like deep breathing, counted breaths, and short breaks and walks can help to calm us, clear our minds, and generate simultaneous states of relaxation and awareness. As much purpose as these small, simple practices have though, there are also some more involved activities that can assist with the development of greater mindfulness. And it may surprise some to learn that the game of poker is among them.

Gaming and Meditation

It is first important to understand that a link has been established between gaming and meditation in general. For a long time there were a lot of misconceptions about gaming as an active, almost violent practice meant solely for young people. But perceptions have changed over time. We now understand that people in all age groups play games of all kinds, and we further accept that a lot of these games have meditative qualities. Gamer testaments and a few scientific studies alike have indicated that the right game can have a soothing effect on one’s mental state.

This is the case with poker as well. A passion for many around the world, it’s a unique game that doesn’t necessarily fall under the umbrella of traditional “gaming” as we tend to think of the term. It is nonetheless similar with regard to mindfulness, however. Approached with intention, it can be a calming, almost meditative hobby for players.

Mental and Emotional Calm

When considering the game of poker specifically, one tends to think first of strategy, luck, and mathematics. In some sense, these are the building blocks of any given game of poker, and it will of course be important for any aspiring player to learn how they all factor in. However, what really helps successful players to win at poker is a sound mindset. The manifestation of a sound overall poker game requires that players learn to accept defeat and to avoid getting too high from a win. It demands reasonable approaches to betting and competition, clear-eyed social interaction, and the ability to operate without ego.

Add those factors up, and what success in poker really demands is mental and emotional calm. Players need skill and strategy to be sure, but above all else they need to be able to clear their minds of various pressures and shut out hasty impulses. This in and of itself is nearly a form of meditation, and certainly serves as a sort of training for mindfulness practice.

Focused Meditation

Beyond helping players to establish a general sense of mental and emotional calm, poker also leads to an ability to focus that, in its own way, is meditative. Generally, a focused meditation is described as the practice of focusing on something intently as a way of staying in the present moment and slowing down inner dialogue. It more or less means zeroing in on one subject to the exclusion of all else for the purpose of clearing one’s head — which is pretty much exactly what one has to do in poker! Even the slightest distraction can be a problem, and while the game demands a lot of attention it still makes for such narrow focus that one can clear one’s mind in a useful and soothing way.

Even given all of these benefits, poker does not comprise an entire mindfulness or meditation routine. For those interested in working on these aspects of personal wellness though, it’s always good to have one more option! Some will find this simple, popular card game to be legitimately beneficial.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our piece on how to boost your energy, especially useful as we enter a new year and search for fresh motivations!

Earfree Nitebuds: For Better Sleep

Earfree Nitebuds, the two-in-one speaker and pillow that plays calming music, improving the quality of your sleep, is launching on Indiegogo.

The idea for the Nitebuds sleep pillow came from people who used to sleep with earphones in. Many of us who have trouble sleeping at night use earphones to listen to calming sleep music, but sleeping with earphones in is just too uncomfortable. Using earphones while you sleep can cause pain and inflammation in the ear; plus, earphones tend to fall out in the middle of the night. But the adverse effects of earphones on ear health is undoubtedly the most critical of these issues.

Nitebuds puts music IN the pillow to solve the problems caused by conventional earbuds. All you have to do is lay your head down on the pillow to be serenated with lovely music. There’s no earbuds involved – so you can roll around in bed all you like without having to worry about damage to your ears or earbuds falling out.

Nitebuds are simple to use. Just place the speakers in the special sleep-aid pillow, then use Bluetooth to pair your smartphone and begin your music therapy. Once your music is playing, Nitebuds’ crater-shaped design enhances the acoustics, making you feel like you’re listening in on a concert hall performance. This design also prevents the sound from leaking out, giving you the same quality of sound at a 30% lower volume, so as not to bother whoever’s sleeping next to you.

The Nitebuds app also provides free ASMR music and ambience, soothing the brain and easing any anxiety. This white noise works has great benefits on mental health and attentiveness, making the sleep music from the Nitebuds app particularly effective at inducing a natural sleep.

Nitebuds uses 3D mesh material for full, fluffy comfort. The mesh also helps the music play through the pillow without getting muffled, plus high-quality microfiber cotton is also used to give the perfect amount of depth and coziness. The microfiber cotton is also a renewable, biodegradable material, which means Nitebuds is eco-friendly, too.

Even though Nitebuds is electronic, the speaker and pillow are fully separable, meaning the pillow can be washed without issue. If you want, you can even use the pillow by itself without the speakers, or even place other items inside the pillow to help you sleep.

For instance, if you find yourself sweating a lot in those hot summer nights, you can place ice-packs in the pillow to help cool off. Or, when you’re stressed out and in the mood for aromatherapy, the CYPRESS insert can be used for some phytoncide healing.

Also, if you have a preference for a specific pillow height, just use the COTTON insert to adjust the pillow’s height to your preference.

You can back Earfree Nitebuds – the high-tech pillow that serenades you to sleep – by finding their campaign on Indiegogo.