The transition from primary to secondary school can be daunting for any child, add in a transition to Boarding School can raise even more challenges.
This is normal. It will likely be the first time your child will live independently from you.
There are some things you can do together as a family to manage the transition to Boarding School.
- Talk about it regularly: This often works best when it flows from an entirely different conversation – when you are not specifically sitting down to discuss the transition. If you were a boarder yourself, you can discuss what you loved about Boarding School, or what you miss most. If you weren’t a boarder, reference a neighbour or friend’s experience. From there, casually ask your child what they are most looking forward to and if there is anything they are particularly worried about.
- Be organised: It will inevitably be a very emotional time for everyone in the family. As parents, you will likely experience separation anxiety, your child starting Boarding School will be nervous, and any siblings may be concerned about what this means for the status quo of the household. Being organised well in advance removes any panic and a lot of the stress from the situation, allowing everyone to remain calm and deal with emotions appropriately.
- Encourage independence: At Boarding School, your child will have to make their own bed, do their laundry and organise themselves for School. Find out exactly what they will need to do and start practising it at home. This will reduce any anxiety your child may have as it reassures them that they know what will be expected, they are prepared and know what to do and how to do it.
- Discuss how you will stay in contact: This can be difficult. As a parent, you will probably want to know exactly what’s happening and how your child is coping. It’s understandable. However, you do not want to become your child’s crutch. So, find out from the School when your child is available to speak with you, and from there you can arrange agreed times with your child. This should help to relax your child as they know when they will speak to you, but also allow them to immerse themselves in the Boarding experience and what is happening at school or in the Boarding House.
- Teach your child healthy habits: Educate your child on:
- Healthy eating habits and food choices.
- Why it is so important to get enough sleep and what happens if you don’t.
- How to read their timetable and get their books and school bag ready for the next day.
- Solving problems: Your child needs to understand that he/she will have to solve their own problems and won’t be able to phone, or speak to you about every little thing. Present certain problematic situations to your child and ask them how they would handle them and which solutions they find manageable. This will empower your child when a difficult situation does occur.
- Making friends: Sport and co-curricular activities are a great way to make friends so encourage your child to participate. If your child is shy or self-conscious, or doesn’t enjoy sport or other recreational activities offered by the School, let them practise introducing themselves and starting a conversation with you at home to build their confidence.
Managing the transition to Boarding School can be challenging, but at Esperance Anglican Community School, we are here to help. If you are concerned about how your child will settle in, come and talk to us or learn more by downloading our Boarding Handbook.