How to Prepare Your Child for Boarding School?
Taking a decision to send your child to boarding school is not a small one and needs a lot of consideration. There is a lot of preparation that goes into creating an environment that prepares your child to look at boarding school as a positive experience. The boarding school experience can be a positive one and enriching one too. Parents can be open with kids about why boarding school can be a good idea. If inadequately prepared for the shift, especially when a child is young, the consequences can be brutal and can create irreparable damage to the child’s psyche.
Talk and keep communication lines open
Talk about the positive aspects of going to boarding school. It is not being punished or disciplined in any way, as many parents use the boarding school card to scare their kids about being sent away. Talk to the child about the fun in living with friends, of being able to live on a lush green campus with access to many sporting activities, of being able to have independence and autonomy. It should be their decision not yours.
The best way is to identify a good school and explore the website with your child. Keep communication lines open and encourage your child to identify what makes them anxious and afraid and help them deal with it. Arrange for them to talk to people who have been happy at boarding school. The child should have the freedom to say no, and that empowers the child. The idea of being forced into a decision can lead to emotional trauma and rebellion. But, if you are articulate and let the child voice his/her concerns and address them for him/her, the transition is easy.
Encourage and stay positive
Ensure that the whole family, parents and the extended one are on the same page regarding the decision of sending the child to a boarding school. The negative feelings of even one family member can rub off on to the child and cause him/her to be nervous and apprehensive. Children are very receptive to the feelings of their parents. Children are resilient and they soon grow to adapt and love their new environment. Parents and family should keep their fears hidden from the child and stay positive ad talk encouragingly in front of him/her.
Make your child independent
Children who are dependent on their parents are often ill-prepared to live on their own. It is a good idea to prepare your child to take care of their things, keep their space neat and tidy and generally be responsible for themselves. This is best initiated when the child is young. It is a good practice even when the child is at home.
You can start with giving them small chores to do and help them adjust to a future life without you. It is never a good idea to do everything for your child. This way they will never face an issue in boarding school environment.
Once you have explored the school brochure and mentally prepared your child for the transition to a boarding school, garner his/her help in getting things organized. It helps in getting a grip on the situation and makes it real. The child grasps that she is moving away from home. Get him/her to plan and pack his/her stuff. Take him/her shopping so that he/she has all he/she needs. Once the things are planned, he/she will understand and even look forward to going to boarding school.
Teach your child from a young age how to plan. It is a good idea to help your child make routines to plan out weekly activities. Help them maintain a calendar with assignments and homework planned out. This will prepare them to maintain her schedules at boarding school and not get overwhelmed by the change in routines. Talk to your little one about activities that he/she can pursue at boarding school. Teach him/her how to balance academics and leisure activities, have hobbies and have a wholesome life beyond school.
Prepare for difficult times with her
Children are sensitive and will face transition problems when they go to boarding school. Prepare your child for difficult times. Explain to him/her how you will always have ways to connect. Homesickness is normal and she should understand that, and you can help him/her deal with it in advance. Tell them the ways you can connect, the phone, emails, skype and video calls to see each other. Plan the next vacation to give him/her something to look forward to.
Talk to him/her that all new students face issues. It is normal. Point out who he/she can talk to if she faces problems. Assure your child that you are always there to help. The simple assurance that your child has someone to talk to, can alleviate his/her anxiety to a large extent.
The last but the most important preparation is to tell your child that boarding school can be wonderful and can help him/her grow into a well-balanced human being who is capable and assured. But, along with this thought, it is imperative to explain that going to boarding school does not mean that he/she is away from home, it means you have a second home.