Going to boarding school is a big step for children and families alike. Try these tips to help your child get ready and make boarding school a positive learning experience!
Talk about it!
Talk to your child about how they are feeling about going to boarding school and being away from home. They may be excited, or anxious, or both! Let your child know that it is normal to be nervous – other kids will be feeling the same way. It might help them to make a list of the things they’re looking forward to and the things they’re worried about. Talk through their concerns and help your child identify strategies to deal with them. Remind your child that boarding schools are very good at welcoming new students and helping them settle in.
Even if you are struggling with the idea of your child going away for school, try to be positive and enthusiastic when talking with your child. Children are very adaptable – with support and time, most will grow to love the experience of boarding school and the friendships they make there.
Try to make sure your child has everything they will need to take with them ready in advance, so they feel prepared when it’s time to pack their things. The school will usually provide information about what your child should and shouldn’t bring, so make sure you read it with your child. Encourage your child to pack a few photos and mementos from home – they will be more comfortable and ready to learn if they feel at home while at boarding school.
When your child goes away for school, they will need to organise themselves and their belongings – perhaps for the first time. Ask your child to make a list of what they are taking and to label everything themselves – this can help them feel more in control and responsible for their belongings. Find out what your child will need to do for themselves while at boarding school, and encourage them to practise these tasks at home –for example making their bed, using a washing machine and dryer, and folding and ironing their clothes.
Make plans for keeping in contact
It’s normal for children to feel homesick when they go away for school, but it doesn’t have to affect their learning. Knowing when you will be visiting over the term can help reduce homesickness for your child. Talk about what will happen on weekends, holidays and long weekends, and make a calendar showing when you will be seeing each other over the term. It can also help to make a plan for how you’ll keep in touch in between visits using email, letters, Skype or phone calls.
Healthy learning habits
Talk to your child about the things they can do when they are away that will support their learning – like healthy eating, getting enough sleep and managing their time. Show your child how to prepare nutritious snacks for themselves, like eggs on toast, vegetable sticks or fruit with yoghurt.
The school will probably have dedicated time for study after school, but you can help by showing your child how to develop a timetable of weekly activities and a calendar or planner with dates of assignments, tests and exams. Find out who your child should talk to if they are struggling with anything at school, and encourage them to do so.
Contact the Isolated Children’s Parent’s Association of Australia for more information on boarding schools.