Whether you’re actively preparing your child to go off to boarding school, or you’re just considering the pros and cons of it as an option for your family, it’s important to think about how you will get your child used to the idea of boarding.
It can be a big transition, which is upsetting for some, and it’s important to think it through carefully.
Be flexible about the type of boarding
Most boarding schools will offer different levels of boarding. They will of course offer a full-time boarding option, but many schools also offer Monday to Friday boarding where your child spends the weekend at home, and day boarding where your child stays at school only one or two nights per week.
Which type of boarding is best is dependent on you and your child, but you can also get advice from teachers at the school on what they think is best. Teachers are a good resource to draw on as they have years of experience.
You can also learn more about different boarding options by reading the websites of different boarding schools. These websites will often provide comprehensive and valuable information for you to draw from.
Create positive experiences away from home
If your child has had a lot of positive experiences staying away from home, then the chances are that they will be more confident about the idea of staying away at school.
Try to make a point of arranging sleepovers at other children’s houses where your child stays away from you, and then gradually build this up to longer breaks away. If your school offers trips where pupils stay away from home, this can also be a good opportunity to build positive experiences of staying away from home.
If your child is anxious about staying away from home this isn’t necessarily anything to worry about, and it can be worked on. Help your child by talking to them honestly about what they are afraid of, and help them to allay their fears. You can also help them to plan for unknown situations like using the bathroom in the middle of the night in a strange place, and help them with things like fear of the dark by providing them with a small lantern.
It can also be a good idea to teach your child some relaxation techniques to help them if they start to feel anxious.
Reach out to other parents
Other parents are an absolute mine of information when it comes to preparing your child for boarding school, and will be able to offer you valuable insights and advice based on their own experiences. It can also be worth talking with the children themselves, or arranging for them to meet your child.
If you don’t know any other parents whose children have been to boarding school then you can ask your prospective school to put you in contact, or have a look online for boarders parents groups.
Discuss sharing space
If your child is going to be boarding then this often means sharing a room with another child, which they may not have done before.
Speak with them to help prepare for this, let them know how to be courteous and considerate when sharing a space with someone else. This will help to prevent friction, and hopefully make sharing a room with someone else an enjoyable experience.