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Sending your child to boarding school? Here’s how you can prepare them

A little preparation can go a long way. Source: Shutterstock

Are you planning to send your child(ren) off to boarding school?

If you are, you’ll know that choosing the perfect school is only half the battle – preparing your child to be a full- or part-time boarder also requires physically and mentally preparing them for their new life.

Whatever your reason for sending them to boarding school, the experience can bring about a wave of anxiety for your child who may not know what to expect.

To improve their chances for success, here are some tips to help them get accustomed to their new life:

Knowing what to expect

Ensure your child is aware of what to expect at their new school to avoid them experiencing culture shock. Source: Shutterstock

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail, as the old saying goes. Similarly, life at boarding school can be vastly different from regular or state schools, making it crucial for parents to ensure their child knows what to expect to avoid culture shock.

This means preparing them to understand that they will be living in shared accommodation with other students, that extracurricular activities are often required and that they will likely be learning amongst an international group of students, among other things.

Establish a routine

Mentally preparing your child for boarding school is one thing, but preparing them physically is equally important.

While your child may be aware that life at a boarding school tends to be more structured and disciplined, getting them into the habit of living a similar lifestyle before living on campus can also do wonders to ease their transition into their new lifestyle.

This means learning to wake up and have their meals at specific times, or packing their things for the following day the night before while still living at home.

Foster independence

Get them used to being independent while they’re still living at home. Source: Shutterstock

One of the great things about boarding schools compared to regular schools is their ability to foster independence. But before your child heads off to boarding school, get them in the habit of being independent if they haven’t had much experience doing things on their own.

This could mean encouraging them to make their bed each morning, managing their school workload with chores, teaching them some simple snacks or meals to make on their own, and so forth.

Get familiar with the school

Familiarising your child with the school he or she will soon be attending involves a lot more than merely scrolling through the school’s website together.

If you can, schedule a campus visit so the both of you can familiarise yourselves with the environment, as well as meet the teachers, other parents and students.

That way, your child will have some familiar faces to look out for on the first day of school, while it can be comforting for you, as a parent, to be familiar with your child’s new environment, in addition to getting to know other parents and the school faculty.  

Dealing with homesickness

Homesickness is never easy to deal with, but bringing comforts from home to school can soothe your child. Source: Shutterstock

Moving to a new school in another state or even a different country can bring about a wave of homesickness.

Your child may not be used to being away from home for an extended period of time and will need to get used to their new environment. Studying in a diverse student community with students from all over the world can cause them to long for the comforts and familiarity of home.

It’s important to remind your child that homesickness is a normal and common human experience. Encourage them to bring a few items that give them comfort, be it photos, a soft toy or even their favourite treats. If things get tough, remind them that you’re only a phone call away.

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