How Do Military Boarding Schools Differ From Residential Treatment?

It can be a struggle to determine if your child would be better suited for a residential treatment center or if they would benefit from military school. There are many factors to consider if your teen is troubled; obviously, you want them to succeed and thrive in the environment they are in while also getting the treatment they need. 

Many of the things that come to a caretaker’s mind revolve around meal planning, activities being done, what free time looks like, and what responsibilities and expectations are implemented. While each school or treatment center will look a bit different from another, the premise across many facilities is the same. After all, the overarching goal is to help your child improve and be the best they can be! 

Let’s compare and contrast military boarding schools and teen residential treatment centers; from there, you’ll have a better idea of which one might be the best fit for your teen!

Military Boarding Schools

Teen military boarding schools are just that – institutes that instill education and academics in a setting that will allow your child also to experience the discipline needed in order to flourish in the military. Regarding free time for your child, there might not be as much available in their schedule at a military facility. Most military boarding schools place a strong focus on academics, as well as physical training and performance. Between when your child wakes and when they go to bed, they will be immersed in classroom education and exercise while being responsible for cleaning their barracks and being present for meals. 

Most military boarding schools are not equipped with psychiatrists, so that level of care might be best suited to another type of schooling arrangement. In addition, the discipline and guidance that your child will receive won’t come from doctors or other medical professionals at a military school – it will all be those in military command. 

A day in the life at military school might look like the following (although it will vary between schools):

  • A set wake-up time (usually early each day!)
  • Making beds/preparing for inspection
  • Physical activity
  • Breakfast
  • Academics
  • Lunch
  • Academics
  • Physical activity/training
  • Dinner
  • Study hall
  • A set bedtime each night 

Residential Treatment Centers

Teen residential treatment centers are similar to military boarding schools in that your child will be allowed to gain an education and accept responsibilities while not being as intense as a military program. In addition, a residential treatment center will allow your child to have more free time or time to delve into extracurricular activities in an individual or group setting. While there is still time planned during the day for academic work, it won’t be nearly as intense as a military school; on the flip side, residential treatment centers focus more on healing from behavioral issues, drug and alcohol recovery, and developmental delays.

Unlike a military boarding school, if your child needs assistance with psychiatric care, then a residential treatment center can provide that for them. In addition, doctors and other medical professionals are often on-call and can be reached daily if needed. 

A day in the life at a residential school might look like the following (although it will vary between schools):

  • A set wake-up time (usually early each day!)
  • Making their beds/getting ready for the day
  • Breakfast, usually which they help prepare
  • Physical activity + gym time
  • Individual or group therapy sessions
  • Equine therapy, experiential therapy, etc.
  • Lunch, which they help prepare
  • Academics
  • Therapy sessions/counseling opportunities
  • Free time
  • Dinner, which they help prepare
  • Group activity
  • A set bedtime each night 

Military School for Teens

Hopefully, this breakdown has helped to distinguish a bit between military school vs. residential treatment. Keep in mind that if your child needs the discipline of a structured environment (and will attend willingly), military boarding programs are an excellent avenue to explore. On the other hand, if your child needs more one-on-one attention or needs assistance being placed on a path in order to thrive in daily life, a residential treatment program might be a better option. Regardless of which one you choose, ensure that the program and facility will best meet your child where they are at – and then continue to help them be successful in the future. 

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