Coping with homesickness - preparing for life in a boarding school.

Leaving home at any age is a shock to the system but leaving home as a young child can be traumatic. Post 13+ or 11+, students tend to be euphoric as they realise that their hard work has paid off and their thoughts turn to summer rather than the new term.


Missing home is inevitable and, as parents, there are a few ways you might want to consider to help your child cope:

1: Prepare for the new school, visit at least once (amazingly, the first exposure some students get to their new home for five years is when they arrive on the first day)

2: Talk about similarities and differences before your child goes - be attentive to cultural differences.

3: Identify ways of smoothing the transition - does your child have a favourite snack you can send?

4: Speak to the new housemistress/master and matron and work out when your child can call home, how you can contact him/her and what support can be provided.

5: Listen to your child. Don't dismiss their fears or worries, small problems can be overwhelming for a child and talking through problems can make a massive difference.

6: Letters...cards... always fabulous to receive. Even if letter writing is perceived as being old-fashioned, receiving a card can make your day.

Most importantly, reassure your child that you are there for them and will support them. The majority of children do adapt and settle in and the complaint from parents is often that their child doesn't have time to call them. And to share a secret... I left home a LONG time ago but sometimes the homesickness still hits. We are never too old to need our families.

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