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How can I prepare my child for boarding school?

Many of our expat and international parents have concerns about how to prepare their children for boarding school life.  For them, boarding schools can conjure up images of uncaring teachers, unpalatable food and homesickness.  We reassure them that modern boarding schools are warm, caring places with staff experienced in dealing with issues like homesickness and unfamiliarity with a new country or language. Here is some advice to help you settle your child into boarding school life.

Encourage independence

Allowing your child to take the bus to meet up with friends or to walk to the local shops on their own, helps them to feel independent and prepares them for boarding school life. If your child has never boarded before, take any opportunities for flexi boarding offered at his or her current school.  This will help your child to get used to the whole boarding culture.  

Get to know the school

Take advantage of any new parent open days which are normally held in May or June of the summer term before your son or daughter starts the school in the Autumn. It is reassuring for both you and your child if they are have already met their new friends and you have been able to forge relationships with other parents and teachers.  Do take the opportunity to grab other parents’ contact details so you can arrange meet-ups or phone calls over the summer.

Focus on friendships

As well as arranging summer meet-ups with any children you have met on the open days, find out if any children from your child’s previous school will be joining him or her at the new school… and use your networks to find out if any of your friends’ or colleagues’ children will be joining your child there.  It can take a while for your child to build new friendships, so any familiar faces on the first day of school will be very welcome.  

Focus on fun

Over the summer holidays talk to your child about their next school, get them excited about the fun side of the school- the new activities, sports and subjects available for them there.  Have a look at the school’s website and brochure with your child.  Take them out to buy their school uniform and stationary-  and make this an enjoyable outing by including a trip to their favourite restaurant or cinema.

Get organised

Make sure that your child has all the right uniform, including PE kit and stationary.  The writer of this article sent her daughter with the wrong PE bag on the first day of her new school and it did not go down well!   Most children, especially teenagers, want to fit in with their peers.  So being well-prepared can help to avoid any mishaps.  

Be open

It is important to discuss with your child the feelings that they might have when they are aware from home for the first time.  Homesickness is very normal and once your child realises this, if the issue arises, it will be much easier to cope with it.  Ensure your child knows which tutor or teacher he or she can talk to if they are feeling a bit low.

At Lumos Education, we offer advice on finding the best boarding schools and how to prepare children for boarding school life.  

Please contact us for more information