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How to Prepare Your Child for Boarding School

Russell Held

Your child has decided to attend boarding school in the fall. That's great news! Boarding school gives students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow personally, emotionally and academically. But in the months and weeks leading up to move-in day, it's normal for you and your child to feel both excited and nervous.

Tips and Tricks to Prepare for the First Day of Boarding School

To help your child navigate going to boarding school for the first time, here are seven techniques to ensure a smooth transition:

1.   Talk about the positives: Sit down and talk about how your child is feeling about the upcoming change. What are they most looking forward to? What are they concerned about? Brainstorm strategies to help overcome those concerns. Remind them it's normal to feel nervous and that their peers will feel the same way.

2.   Encourage independence: Put your child in charge of the logistics (with your help if needed), like creating a packing list, buying supplies and packing suitcases. This process will help prepare your child to be organized, independent and accountable while living on their own

3.   Get familiar with the school's community: Plan a trip to visit campus together and tour the dorm. If possible, go during an admissions event so you can meet teachers, administrators and other students and parents. Seeing familiar faces on the first day of school will help your child feel more comfortable.

4.   Make plans for keeping in contact: Staying in touch gives students a support system they can rely on. But it's important to set a schedule and keep to it — for example, one 30-minute call once a week. Encourage your child to stay in the moment and connect with their new surroundings, classmates and school culture

5.   Discuss how to manage homesickness: Your child may feel both excited about making new friends and anxious about leaving home. This is very normal. Talk to them about homesickness and how to recognize the signs. Then, brainstorm ways to cope, like joining a club, going outside their comfort zone and asking dorm parents and advisors for help.

6.   Give your child tools for making friends: Before school starts, help your child research student organizations and sports teams. Ask them to find three clubs they would be interested in, and talk about why those stand out. This way, your child will feel excited about signing up and doing something they care about with likeminded peers.

7.   Encourage healthy habits: Talk about the importance of eating well, staying active, sleeping seven to nine hours a night and balancing their time. Consider helping them create a daily schedule to block off homework time or teaching them how to make nutritious snacks.

Living and Learning as a Boarder at Wilbraham & Monson Academy

Boarding students at Wilbraham & Monson Academy become part of a vibrant, nurturing community from Day One. To discover what makes WMA one of the most transformative prep schools in New England, schedule a campus visit or request more information about WMA.

Ready to apply? Learn more about our application process — we look forward to meeting you!

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