Getting Children Ready for Boarding School

Getting Children Ready for Boarding School
Boarding schools provide the ideal environment to let your child grow into a well-rounded, mature individual. We tell you how to help your child make the move without any heartache.

Most parents are divided in their opinion on sending children to boarding school. In their defense, boarding schools give children a cleaner and greener environment to live in, providing respite from the pollution and traffic jams of city life. 

Boarding school facilities are designed to help children explore their talents, participate in sports and immerse themselves in their academics. Living in a boarding school also teaches children how to share and function independently, thus helping them grow into well-rounded individuals.

Sending children to a boarding school should never sound like a punishment. Parents often tell their children, “If you don’t behave/ listen to me, I will send you to a boarding school.” This is the worst way to introduce the concept to a child. Studying at a boarding school should be a coveted prize the child receives for being an independent, trustworthy person.

Rather than announcing that you’ve made the boarding school decision for your child, you need to talk to him/ her about it and make the choice of school together. Let your child read about the few schools you have zeroed down on and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each one before proceeding any further. Your child should be asked for his/ her thoughts, ideas and overall opinion of each school.

The next step is to visit the school to get a feel for the environment. Meet the students and take a tour of the dorms, classrooms, dining halls, study rooms and sports facilities. You may even have a meal in the dining hall after taking the required permissions. Once your child meets the teachers and administrators, the final decision will be easier to make. And once the child builds a rapport with a teacher or dorm house advisor, he/she will also feel less apprehensive about the move.

After your child has agreed to go to a particular boarding school, it’s time to get his/ her things ready-bags, clothes, bedding and books. The child should be encouraged to make smaller decisions from here onwards, like items to pack and the kind of extra classes he/ she wants to take up. This will help the child feel more responsible and will also make the move feel less forced.

Once your child moves to the boarding school, it is very important to keep close contact with your child. You need to call your child as often as is allowed, send care packages that include favourite foods and visit as often as you can. It is important for your child to know that you are always around and that he/ she may call on you as and when needed. This is especially important during the first year, when the child is prone to feeling homesick and may want to come home. You need to empathise with your child and stick to your decision without succumbing to your child’s cries.

Most boarding schools have open campus weekends, where parents can spend time with their children or even take them home for the weekend if they live close enough. Make the most of these opportunities so that your child continues to feel like an important part of the family. Long holidays should also be used to spend as much time together as a family, so that your child has great memories to take him/ her through the next academic year.

(Image courtesy Thinkstock)

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