Education Eye: Preparing for their first time away from home

Catherine Stoker, of Bucks-based Independent Education Consultants
Catherine Stoker, of Bucks-based Independent Education Consultants

All over the country mums are busy sewing on name tapes and buying school shoes, slippers and trainers.

Dealing with the practicalities of getting ready for boarding is easy, but how can parents feel reassured their child has the skills and independence to thrive, when away from home for the first time?

Ensure your child has everything from the kit list.

It can be upsetting to get into trouble in the first few weeks for not having rugby boots, hockey stick, laptop or a calculator.

Familiarise them with the school site. Getting lost trying to find a science lesson will be distressing.

Choose your words carefully. Boarding is an opportunity you have chosen for them. You are not ‘sending’ them away. Discuss homesickness and agree a strategy as to how you might deal with this together.

Highlight which school staff to seek out when they are feeling low. Calls home must be managed carefully in the first few weeks, especially where mobile phones are involved.

Look at the school website and joining pack together. Encourage them to take an interest in extra-curricular activities. Keeping busy from the start will help the settling in process and form new friendships quickly.

Plan something exciting to look forward to at the first exeat. Milestones are important once the routine of boarding kicks in. Parents and children alike will need to keep busy in the first few weeks.

Try not to linger at school too long when dropping them off on the first day. Settle them in, help unpack and pick a moment when they are busy chatting with a group of peers to make a discreet exit. The longer you stay, the harder it will be to leave.