Helping Your Child Adjust To Boarding School
Boarding school is not for every parent (or child) but if you happen to be a parent that does find value in the concept, then knowing how to adjust is essential. Many professionals call boarding school a “planned separation.” A boarding school lifestyle is similar to college life in a way. Your child will have to do their own laundry, chores, develop good time management, get used to a roommate and dorm rules. But these rules and new way of life may help them become organized, focused, and motivated later in life.
Being homesick is pretty much inevitable at least for the first few weeks or months, but here are some things that might help them get into a rhythm and become comfortable.
The Comfort Pack
Every kid has their favorite snack or DVD so try and get into a routine of sending one on a routine basis. It could be once a week, once a month or every few months but the key is consistency because your child will have something special from you to look forward to.
While you want your child to develop an independent lifestyle and learn more about themselves, you also want to maintain good communication and to let them know they are loved. If you know that calling on a daily basis might make them want to come home then establish days that you will definitely talk and catch up. You could even suggest that you send a Sunday email too that includes things that are going on with the family or funny things that happened that week. Make sure that they know they can share any information with you no matter how good or bad.
Problem solving is an essential life skill and the worst thing you can do is be a helicopter parent when your child is away at boarding school. Of course you care, but try and allow your child to problem solve some things on their own. When they call you for advice before you give it, ask them to come up with two or three ways that they think it should be handled and tell them you will call them back in half an hour to discuss it. This way, you can still give your advice on the second call but at least it gets them thinking for themselves.
Try not to worry too much about your child making new friends because the professionals at boarding school are used to it and probably have ways of encouraging new relationships. You can suggest that they join sports or other groups where they may meet people. Or, if the school will allow it, have them start their own group on a certain topic they love like photography, painting or a book club etc. You can even ask them if they want to invite new friends home for some holidays.
If you visit every weekend it may defeat the purpose of this new independent lifestyle that you are trying to promote. Most boarding schools have dedicated times like fall parents weekend where they will have planned things for you guys to do. But in between the planned times visiting once every few months is a great way to spend that needed one on one parent time. Because you don’t see each other on a regular basis, when you do visit, make sure you try and really connect.