Four Pro Tips for Parents to Help Students Adjust to Boarding School
For many new students, adjusting to life at a boarding school can be a trying experience. Almost everyone will get homesick at some point or another. During such times, your youngsters may have trouble seeing the benefits of a boarding school or may even want to return to his or her old school. In order to aid your student and ease his or her transition into the life of a boarding school student, we’ve put together a helpful list of tips for you to follow.
1. Prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally
Just because you spent months researching the perfect school for your kid and days preparing the application doesn’t mean the prep work is over! Before the school semester begins, it is important to get your child ready for his or her new chapter of life. Take a few of the suggestions below into consideration to make sure you’ve fully prepared your student for the journey that lies ahead:
- Plan a visit to the campus before the school year to familiarize yourself with the environment your student will be learning and living. This may help with putting yourself in their shoes and emphasizing with them.
- Connect with other students and their families. Not only will your child have a friend before they begin school, but you will also have other parents to reach out to and connect with. This will be especially helpful if you are farther away than most and could use a “friend on the ground.”
- Talk about expectations of the boarding school experience; this will help prepare your student mentally for the hurdles (s)he may have to overcome
2. Give them tools to help make friends and build a community
For many students, the friendships they build in boarding school can be a second family they cherish for the rest of their lives. However, forging such bonds can seem like a daunting task at first. Encourage your child to enlist in extracurricular activities that will have them link up with like-minded individuals. Furthermore, have them explore what hobbies they enjoy prior to actually attending the boarding school. This way, by the time September rolls around, he or she will feel confident in their abilities and passions, and this assuredness will hopefully translate to the new school.
3. Recognize the signs of homesickness
While most institutions can easily see the telltale signs of a homesick student, some students are less willing to openly be vulnerable, especially older boys. Many faculty members often find out about homesickness through parents’ concerns. If your child is displaying some of the following symptoms, he or she may be experiencing homesickness:
- Increased phone calls or contact with home, especially during the evenings or weekends
- Being less involved in activities or school
- Spending increased amounts of time in his or her room
- More signs and symptoms can be found here
4. Connect, but don’t overdo the communication
Providing a support network for your student to rely on will be crucial to his or her success. Thanks to modern technology, you can forget about the long-distance phone plans. Apps and programs like Viber and Skype allow you to make connecting with someone across the world free and easy-all you need is a stable Internet connection! Getting a package from loved ones can make a world of a difference on a day when homesickness is particularly bad. Including mementos from home such as photos, homemade gifts, or a mug or drinking glass will reassure your student that he or she is in your thoughts every time your child sees or uses the memento of your love. Comfort foods have been shown to positively spike emotions and relieve stress and anxiety, so be sure to include any (healthy) snacks your child loves! Sites like OCM specialize in providing students with a care package for every occasion. Although keeping an open line of communication with your student is always advised, making nightly phone calls should be avoided. Instead of constantly communicating with friends and family from home, your student should be integrating themselves into the schools community and culture. Encourage your student to set up a flexible schedule to communicate with you and friends from home when he or she has time, but not to make it a priority that could detract from fostering new relationships. Enrolling in boarding school can be one of the most rewarding adventures of a young person’s life. Even though the new environment may present challenges and stressful times, parents can facilitate their children’s success from afar. If you take the time to fully prepare your student for the remarkable experience they will be embarking on, remain empathetic when you recognize they are going through a rough patch, and support them through scheduled communication and surprise gifts, your child will be on their way to joining the millions that have achieved greatness through private boarding schools.