Why I Chose Robert Land Academy

Parents often navigate a labyrinth of choices in the quest for the right educational environment for their children. Each child has unique needs and challenges, making the search for the perfect school a highly individualized journey.

For parents who have chosen Robert Land Academy (RLA), a military boarding school in Ontario, Canada, their decision stems from a belief that RLA offers a transformative experience and can fulfill the needs of their sons.

Recently, the Academy’s admissions team sat down with some of our new parents to explore the reasons why parents have chosen RLA through the lens of their own experiences.

1. A Values-Based Philosophy

Many parents appreciate Robert Land Academy’s emphasis on character development and providing students with a values-based philosophy.  Mr. Ihedioha, the parent of a Grade 11 student at the Academy, explains the importance of the Academy’s values, “Our son is a very intelligent kid; we wanted a place that will instill discipline, focus, and imbibe the right qualities in helping him achieve his potential.  I believe that the school provides the right balance between learning and character building through discipline.

While many schools provide students with a fulfilling academic environment, the Academy’s emphasis on instilling values in its students sets it apart from other schools.  This sentiment is echoed by Mr. Goodwin, the parent of a new student, “I want my son to learn that he is accountable for his own actions; he is directly responsible for his success or failure; hard work yields positive results; and he can achieve great things if he puts in the effort.”

2. A Caring, Supportive Environment

Robert Land Academy strives to provide students with a caring, supportive environment that challenges students to develop academically, physically, and morally.  The holistic education provided at the Academy is unique.  Goodwin explains, “I love the approach of challenging these kids, pushing them to be their very best, helping them overcome their limitations and teaching them about responsibility and personal accountability. I believe that my son will become the best possible version of himself at RLA.

Central to our students’ growth and development is our staff, who play pivotal roles as mentors.  Our staff forge strong relationships with our students and genuinely care about their progress.  Dr. Race, mother of a second-year student, describes her interactions with our staff, “I feel that the teachers and staff at RLA are a group of caring professionals that believe in the program and do their best for each student that enters their program.”

3. Academic Supports

With small class sizes, mandatory, supervised study halls, and experience working with students with learning differences, the Academy’s strong academic reputation attracts parents to the school.  Goodwin comments, “Robert Land Academy offers precisely what my son needs. I couldn’t possibly design a better environment for him. The classes are small, so it would be impossible for him to be overlooked or left behind. His teachers will know him well and they will have time for him. They can push him harder when he’s doing well and he needs a challenge; conversely, they can give him more attention and support when he needs it. A kid like mine simply cannot fall between the cracks when classes are that small. RLA offers a challenging academic curriculum with a rich extracurricular program. The students are kept busy from morning until night and even on the weekends. There’s no time for the kids to get bored or distracted. And they are being developed as whole individuals with academics, fitness, creative pursuits and leadership opportunities.”

Mrs. Franklin, a new parent of an elementary student, was looking for a program that fit her son’s specific needs.  Franklin notes, “We needed to find a school that filled the gap between traditional public or private schools and therapeutic schooling.” This can be difficult for families.  The Academy offers this support and provides an environment where students can flourish.  Franklin adds, “Though we are new to RLA this year, we have nothing but positive things to say about the academy. At his previous school, he was somewhat happy, but the more traditional schedule and structure left too much room for him to lose interest and end up in trouble. We had seen him thrive in summer camps that kept him constantly engaged; therefore, we knew what we needed and couldn’t adequately provide this at home. RLA has taken a child who was always tired, often angry and frustrated, hated homework, and argued about completing even the most minor tasks, and transformed him into a young man who wants to exercise, is willing to complete his homework, and is motivated to earn badges, coins, and promotion. His energy has returned, and he is focused on his own positive growth. All of this in just a month!”

4. An Emphasis on Physical Fitness

The Academy ensures students lead healthy, physically active lifestyles.  Fitness training, athletics, and extracurricular activity participation are mandatory.  Ms. Brown, mother of a returning Grade 10 student, comments on her decision to select the Academy, “Less use of electronics and more physical activity was very important to me.”

Similarly, Race notes the Academy’s balance between academic success and physical activity was attractive to her, “I wanted a school that would encourage athletics, but also emphasize the importance of academics.”  

5. A Distraction-Free Environment

Other parents are attracted to the Academy’s distraction-free environment.  Race explains its impact on her son, “The program really improved my son’s written expressionThe absence of cell phones and limited computer use improved his ability to have sustained focus.”

The Academy prides itself on providing an environment conducive to growth and development.  Goodwin explains, “I love the healthy lifestyle and back-to-basics approach at RLA. The kids eat healthy meals. They keep regular bedtimes and get enough sleep. There are no screens except for academic purposes. There are no video games, television shows or social media. I know my son will be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy at this school.”

6. A Structured, Transformational Program

The Academy’s structured program provides students with a predictable framework for success.  The daily routine emphasizes academic success and physical activity.  Goodwin notes how the Academy’s program addresses his son’s needs, “My son needs to be in a highly structured school where there are full schedules, clear expectations and enough activities to keep the students busy. He also needs a school with a low student-to-teacher ratio where he can receive direction, guidance and mentorship. Finally, he needs an environment where he’s challenged, where his limits are tested and where he’s pushed and helped to become the best version of himself.”

Advice to Prospective Parents

At the end of our discussion, we asked parents to give advice to prospective parents considering Robert Land Academy.  Here is what they shared:

1. Look Beyond the Military Model

“Do not get hung up on the fact that it is a military-style schoolMy son was not sent to the school for disciplineHe was sent because it was the only school that would address his academic needs, his need for structure, regular exercise and reduced distractionThe program and staff at RLA have helped him to gain academic strength and be well on his way to being the best student he can be.” Dr. Karen Race

2. View RLA as an Investment

“I will advise prospective parents to consider sending their son to RLA as an investment. It is worth the sacrifice, the child will definitely benefit from it. Of course, I understand the cost may be a concern, but where there is a will, there is a way.”  Mr. Obinna Ihedioha

3. Envision the Future

I suggest that parents begin by envisioning their son in the future, perhaps at the time of graduation. What behaviors and personality traits do you want to see in him? What accomplishments should he have by that age? What do you think he should do after graduation? Then consider all your options, from public school to private school to boarding school and a military schooling model. Research those options and what they offer. Then make a really honest decision about which model and which environment is right for your son. The decision may be difficult, but go back to that vision of your son in the future and focus on what it will take to get him there. Also, I would suggest speaking with other parents who currently have sons at RLA. The military school model is not for everyone, but for some boys, it’s exactly what they need. Talk to other parents and ask them about their sons and what brought them to RLA. Then decide if your circumstances are similar.” Mr. Nigel Goodwin

4. Connect with Parents

Get in touch with another parent. We were fortunate enough to speak to another parent before deciding about RLA. The uncanny similarities in challenges that she encountered with her son before RLA significantly influenced our decision. When she described her son’s preference to play video games over much else and the arguments over taking a shower, we knew we weren’t alone. We had felt like we were fighting a battle that few others experienced. She shared her son’s pride in improved self-control and was honest about his preference to be home with electronics versus returning to school. The kicker was that her son also recognized after just a year at RLA that he should go back in order to continue his positive progress. We, too, have seen incredible growth in just a month. During the first long weekend break, our son was excited to tell us about his experiences and leaving campus, but he was equally delighted to return to his friends at his new home away from home. The comfort of knowing he is happy, content, and growing in a healthy environment is priceless.” Mrs. Katie Franklin

5. A Small School with a Big Heart

Send your child here if they need to get on a new pathThey will learn disclipline, how to respect authority, social skills, how to become a leader, and get in shapeAll while getting a good education, too, with plenty of care and attention from teachers and staff.  It is a small school with a very big heart.” Ms. Sarah Brown


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