It is not always an easy decision to board your child at a private school. However, in some respects, it is hardest for parents. Also, there is strong evidence that boarding school can sometimes bring you closer together emotionally.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder but could sending your children to a private residential school make your parent-child bond even stronger?
This flies in the face of the conventional myth that ‘sending children away to school’ puts your relationship with them at risk. This is the source of many concerns for parents, who struggle with the concept of being away from their son or daughter for days on end.
If you need to work or travel, are your motives for considering boarding school entirely altruistic? It can leave you with a sense of guilt.
Ironically, there is a strong possibility that this anxiety is only flowing from you.
Keeping your child in the loop
The starting point of making the whole experience positive is, of course, involving your son or daughter in the initial decision. When provided them with all the relevant information – and a chance to tour a top independent boarding school - many young people become intrigued and excited by the opportunities presented to them.
Strengthening the ties that bind
Being given the chance to make an informed choice about private education, by supportive parents, can start the whole process off on a great footing.
Then, when they do take up their place at Rendcomb College, your son or daughter will quickly see the ways in which our school community reinforces and extends their family links. This includes regular visits home at weekends as well as during school holidays.
Family also come into the school for events, concerts, sports fixtures and a host of other social contact activities.
Our experience is, that when children and young people do have family visits or home time, many are bubbling with news. Or they are content to ‘chill’ with mum and dad after some time spent apart. Which can make the relationship between parent and child stronger and calmer.
Do children at residential independent schools get homesick?
Students go through a range of emotions, just as any child or teenager would, and yes that can include bouts of missing family. Rendcomb College’s professional Houseparent team are alert to any boarder with the blues, for any reason, including offering support when they need some extra parent contact.
Again, long experience suggests these issues are fleeting and students are quickly back to being happy and content at boarding school. They are often highly aware of how lucky there are to have parents who readily agree to them experiencing the advantages of a private education.
If a student ever did experience any form of long term distress or resentment about being away from home, we would contact parents immediately to discuss robust solutions. Fortunately, this is extremely rare!
The ‘joys’ of parenting adolescents
Truth be told, having older children at a private boarding school can take some of the tension away from parenting adolescents. There are so many temptations and distractions for pre-teens and teenagers in modern society, including over-reliance on electrical gadgets and social media, and of course the terrible spectre of substance misuse.
How many battles over time, priorities and unsavoury activities could be settled, if the young person is being kept occupied and fulfilled at boarding school? They have fabulous friendship circles around them all day, negating the need for roaming around or mixing with the ‘wrong crowd’.
Parents can breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing that their child is safe, busy and provided with abundant leisure and fun activities with like-minded peers.
Many ways to keep in touch
Keep in mind too, that life at a modern boarding school does afford young people and children plenty of opportunities to keep in close contact with family and friends on a daily basis.
The caring staff at Rendcomb College make relevant technology available and provide ample time for video calling and other family communications.
Now ask yourself this. Which would you prefer: a surly early teen sitting on the sofa complaining they are bored; or an animated early teen Skype calling you to tell you about their horse riding, rock climbing or Science Club exploits?
For many children and young people, having a nurturing school life that includes tailor-made learning and leisure support puts them in control of their ‘world’. It is a way to learn independence and self-sufficiency; the sort of life skills that make confident and strong adults.
Parents are provided with various ways to update themselves on their son or daughter’s accomplishments and progress, so they feel connected no matter where they are in the world. This includes not just the tradition parent-teacher liaison, but also a continuous stream of updates and chances to ask questions.
There is another way you can help your child enjoy boarding school and reap maximum benefit, at the same time as strengthening your bond with them. Care packages, letters and emails.
Our school community universally and unequivocally love receiving messages, news and ‘goodies’ from home. It is another great reminder of how much they are loved, and how much they belong to their actual family as well as their school ‘family’.