Making the decision to enrol your child in boarding school can be a big step and one that impacts the whole family. There are many reasons to choose boarding school for your child including providing them with the opportunity to grow as individuals, the use of state-of-the-art academic facilities and the opportunity for them to have a second family with shared interests and goals. However, your child will likely feel anxious about going to boarding school, which is understandable, and they will likely require a period of adjustment. Supporting your child as they transition from home to boarding school can impact how they view the change and the new experiences that lie ahead, so here are a few tips for preparing your child to start boarding school:
Make Boarding School An Open Topic
Sometimes when a big change is about to happen, families can close off the conversation around that change in an attempt to allow family life to continue on as normal. However, if you make the topic of going to boarding school a regular and normal point of discussion in your home, it can normalise the experience and give your child lots of opportunities to discuss how they feel. Your child will appreciate you coming alongside them and looking at the school map, the extracurricular activities on offer and how weekends are scheduled. Looking at the finer details together will show your child you are interested in what they think and help them feel more prepared for starting their new schooling experience.
Your child may be used to you doing quite a bit for them, and their current educational setting likely won't provide the same opportunity for autonomy and independence that boarding school does. Help your child feel confident about the independence they are about to acquire by allowing them to become more independent in the safety of their own home where they feel confident and at ease. Find out what they will be responsible for at boarding school, such as making their own bed, preparing snacks and washing their clothes, and work with them at home to ensure they will hit the ground running.
Plan Quality Time Together
Make some concrete plans with your child that allows them to know exactly when they will see you and what you will do together during visits and holidays. Diarising some quality time will show your child they are a priority to you and give them something to look forward to in those early weeks of boarding school when they will likely experience some homesickness during their settling in period.
Boarding school will provide many academic and social opportunities for your child, but don't be surprised if the period leading up to your child starting boarding school is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Offer support by being there for them and acknowledging their feelings, and ensure they know who to speak to at their new school should they find themselves struggling to adjust.