If you are planning to send your child to a boarding school, you know you have to prepare your child to be away from home, something that is not always easy to do. Preparing your child and ensuring he or she has the best chance possible to thrive involves more than just getting the right clothes or finding the right classes. Start early and be honest, and you'll soon find a clearer path toward having a happy boarding school student instead of a resentful teen.
Wanting to Go, Understanding Why, and Just Being Obedient
Not every child wants to go to boarding school. Some do, and if your child truly wants to go, count yourself lucky. Some children don't really want to go, but they understand the reasons, such as getting a better education there than at a mediocre local school. But the real danger is if your child says he or she wants to go or he or she fully understands why you want him or her to be at the school, when really, that child does not want to go and is developing feelings of abandonment, unimportance, and more. It is crucial that you find out whether your child's seeming agreement is truly agreement or just obedience. Work with the child to find ways to compromise.
Take the child to actually visit the school and attend for a couple of days. Many boarding schools are wonderful. Some are not and just look good on paper, and it's important that you ensure the school you liked in the brochure is really the school your child will get to attend. Maybe the food is more boring than you thought, but the are teachers fantastic — the food would be a minor quibble. Or maybe the rest of the student body is so unbearably stuck up that even you recoil at the school — that's a major problem, and one that would necessitate you looking for a better school.
Agree ahead of time on what communication works for both you and your child. Maybe your child is so eager to go that he or she doesn't want to communicate with you; while you can't stop contacting your child completely, maybe you can arrange to email once a week or twice a month. Maybe your child would feel better hearing from you every couple of days at first, with you gradually reducing communication down to one a week or so. Do not cut off the child completely in an attempt to force them to adjust; you'll only make the adjustment period longer and more difficult.
Following Through and Believing
Stick to your communication schedule and your promises, and believe your child if, after the first few weeks, he or she reports problems. There's nothing worse than being in a bad situation and not being believed.
Boarding school, like camps and studying abroad, will have its adjustment period and its bouts of homesickness for your child. But if you take things calmly and work with the child to make the experience better, those bad bouts will soon fade. For more information, contact local professionals like Admiral Farragut Academy.