Education & Family
by Aspect County

Preparing your child for boarding school

For those parents who have elected to send their offspring to boarding school, this will not only mark an exciting new chapter in their lives but also a time of dramatic change.Here are some top tips on how to ensure a seamless transition into life as a boarder.

Preparing your child for boarding school
For those parents who have elected to send their offspring to boarding school, this will not only mark an exciting new chapter in their lives but also a time of dramatic change.Here are some top tips on how to ensure a seamless transition into life as a boarder.

Pick the RIGHT school for your child
First and foremost, be aware that your child will never settle at boarding school if it is the wrong school for them. When reviewing the extensive number of schools on offer don‘t be tempted to base your judgment purely on academic achievements. Obviously this is especially true if your child is not particularly academically gifted. Other important factors to consider are opportunities to participate in sporting / creative activities, scope for siblings to remain together regardless of disparate academic abilities, standard of pastoral care, effort made to provide a school community that reflects the real word by admitting pupils from a wide range of social / economic and cultural backgrounds and geographical location (most parents will want their child‘s school to be within easy access of the parental / guardians home).

Take advantage of tasters
If your child has attended prep school it is more than likely that in years 7 and 8, they have had already had a taste of boarding, although boarding on a full time basis has a marked difference to just boarding Monday to Friday. For those pupils who have never boarded, the school should have offered a taster sleepover the term before the child joins. Be sure to take advantage of this as it certainly helps to take some of the anxiety out of those first few weeks away from home.

Show enthusiasmChildren quickly pick up on any sign of negativity and it is essential that every member of the family relays an enthusiastic attitude towards the decision to attend boarding school. Take pains to explain to your child why they are leaving home and share in their excitement of the fantastic opportunities that will soon be coming their way. Always put on a united front, even if Mum is finding it difficult to come to terms with her son / daughter moving away, it is really important that she focuses on the happy times ahead for her child. Apart from providing reassurance, this will also prevent the new boarder from worrying unnecessarily about their parents!

Limit contact
Gone are the draconian days when children were denied contact with their parents once they had been dispatched to boarding school and in todays society where modern technology allows for seamless communication regardless of geographical location, it is unlikely that parents won‘t be in regular contact with their children. However, for the new arrivals in years 7 and 8, it is recommended that the first weekend away from home they remain in school, even if they have family living close by. Excessive contact via iPad or iPhone is also frowned upon in the evenings as this can sometimes impact on the ease with which a child is able to settle into their new environment. Do make sure that the school has an advanced Internet security policy to ensure the continued safety of your child when he / she has access to the web.

House happy
The Housemaster / Housemistress will represent a pivotal person in your childs life and it is vital that parents feel 100% comfortable that the person who will be largely responsible for a childs emotional / educational / physical and moral welfare, is regarded as a good match. Take time to get to know the Housemaster and the house that he / she presides over. Some parents may visit up to four times before a decision is made regarding which house is most suited to their child.

Be prepared
Make sure every detail is taken care of in the run up to starting school. Check the school kit list to make sure nothing is forgotten as sometimes something as trivial as not having the right equipment can be enough to trigger a bout of homesickness. Ensure your child is familiar with the layout of the school site and begin to slowly encourage a stronger sense of independence during the holidays. (invite your child to take responsibility for simple aspects of day to day living such as keeping their bedroom tidy, maintaining a good personal hygiene routine and taking care of their belongings), don‘t be tempted to ramp up the parental care just because you know he / she won‘t be around so much from September onwards!