The decision for your child to go to boarding school can be a tough one, and the first time you say goodbye is even more difficult. At some point in every parent’s life, there will come a time when they will fly the nest and it’s only natural to miss them even if there are other siblings at home.
Your child will also be dealing with separation anxiety during their first few weeks away. There are, however, plenty of ways to overcome this feeling with a number of coping mechanisms.
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT YOUR CHILD
When attending open days for your shortlist of potential boarding schools, it’s important to think about how much your child will fit in with classmates and enjoy everything the school has to offer.
You’ll be able to see how much your child will flourish and how their characteristics and interests will match that of the establishment. In the lead-up to starting it’s important to support them emotionally as they’ll be experiencing a range of feelings with the looming change, from excitement to anxiety.
Being open and honest in dialogue is key at this stage because of the rollercoaster of emotions they’ll go through. Talking about how they are feeling will make them feel more at ease as a problem shared is a problem halved.
Make a list of the things they would like to do and give them ideas of prospects to look forward to. On the flip side, also note down what may be worrying them and come up with solutions on how to overcome this.
KEEP A POSITIVE OUTLOOK
Positivity is the key to success. Boarding school is a wonderful opportunity for children to grow as individuals, learn and have new experiences.
If you previously went to boarding school you can share how great your time was which will put them at ease. By looking at the brighter side of the coin they’ll feel much excitement about starting and will eventually adapt to the changes ahead of them.
PLAN THINGS IN ADVANCE
When you have the start dates of the first term in the diary, you can begin to plan days out to get them ready for the move.
This will build up positive anticipation with shopping trips to buy items for their dorms or treat days out if there are things yet to do close to home that can be ticked off the bucket list. Also, once they have moved into boarding school, they will have extra experiences to look forward to for that quality time together in the future.
ENCOURAGE THE STEP UP IN INDEPENDENCE
We can’t hold our child’s hands forever, therefore introducing tasks at home will start to instill a sense of independence which they can take with them to boarding school. From packing their own bags to doing the washing and making their bed, this will put them in good stead for what’s ahead.
HOW TO HELP YOURSELF AS A PARENT OR CARER
Now that you’re making progressive steps for your child to feel more comfortable when they first begin boarding school, how about the emotions that parents or carers may feel? To have a child leave home can leave a feeling of emptiness, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
KEEP YOURSELF OCCUPIED
It’s understandable that you’ll be missing your child when they are away at boarding school, but a good way to tackle this feeling is simply by keeping busy. Taking your mind off the matter by occupying your time with other activities such as projects around the house, exercise, starting a new hobby, or carrying out volunteering will certainly help. It will shift your mindset elsewhere.
GO AND VISIT
There will be plenty of opportunities where you’ll be allowed to visit your child’s boarding school throughout the year. Whether that’s during parent’s weekend, performances, or other special events where family members are welcome.
KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THE SCHOOL
Although it’s important to let go and give your child some independence whilst they’re at boarding school, keeping the channels of communication open is important. This includes being connected with the school, by keeping up to date with their social media channels, newsletters, and website.
Alternatively, you can contact house parents or school counselors if you need to have a chat about how they’re getting on. As for keeping in touch with your child, as many dorms feature wifi and children will have access to phone and video calls, perhaps schedule times throughout the week to catch up.