One of the first questions that you and your child will have to face when contemplating military schools is the matter of a day school versus a boarding school. Many military schools are boarding schools, and others are simply magnet schools in a larger school system. This is an important distinction, and just one that you will have to assess with your child when looking at military schools.
A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils not only study, but also live during term time, with their fellow students and possibly teachers. The word 'boarding' in this sense means that the school provides food and lodging for pupils. Within the military school context it should be obvious why this is a common practice; the military likes to instill individual resourcefulness in its people, and the earlier the better. Military boarding school pupils may spend the majority of their childhood and adolescent life away from their parents, although pupils return home during the holidays and, often, the summer break. Detached from the outside world on a daily basis, military school students are more easily taught the virtues and values prominent in the military, and these are reinforced by the relative isolation that a military boarding school offers.
In addition, this distance from “civilian” life further reinforces the distinction between the military lifestyle and that of non-military citizens. On the occasions that boarding military school students venture off campus they are met with a world that they can comfortably move through, all the time noting the differences between their daily lives and of those around them. Many former boarding students from military schools report that the boarding experience was crucial in their understanding and adoption of the virtues being instilled within them. It should be noted that while boarding schools are, possibly correctly, perceived as instilling social and personal survival skills and keeping children occupied, they also exclude children from normal home-based, domestic daily life. Some children in boarding schools are liable to take on a sense of exclusiveness and superiority to others. It is not uncommon for children who have been to such schools to speak with different, learned accents than local children, play different sports, and miss out on local activities.
In contrast to boarding school, a day school is an institution where children are given educational instruction during the day and after which children return to their homes. It is a common model in the United States, adhered to by virtually all public schools, and a great many private ones (such as military schools) as well. Basically, classes are held from sometime in the morning to sometime in the afternoon, approximately along the lines of a normal adult work day. Very often there is a break for lunch, and different schools have different policies regarding whether or not students may or leave campus during the day. Military day schools still retain all the discipline and traditions as their boarding counterparts, the only distinction being whether the students remain on campus over night or not.