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A father and son unloading the car as they move into a boarding school dorm.

How to Prepare Your Child for Boarding School

May 12, 2022

Get the moving boxes ready—your child is heading to boarding school! 

Preparing for boarding school is an exciting time for families. It means your child has found the perfect place to learn and grow as they prepare for college, independence, and life in general. However, it also means that your child may be living away from home for the first time, which can be overwhelming for both parents and students. 

How can you help your child get ready for boarding school before the big move-in day? Here are some things you can start doing well before you load up the car and say your goodbyes.

1. Keep conversations positive.

Being away from family can be stressful for any child, no matter how excited they are about attending their dream boarding school. In the months and weeks leading up to the new school year, talk to your child about the wonderful experiences they are about to have, the lifelong friends and mentors they will find, and the opportunities they are gaining. Remind them that you are there to help ease their concerns or hesitations and that nerves are normal. 

2. Visit often (both in-person and online).

One way to ease the uncertainty surrounding a new experience is to experience it. Remove some of the new-school mystique by visiting campus as often as allowed, and explore the school’s website and social media pages with your child to learn more about the community. If possible, encourage your child to connect with other current or alumni students to help answer any lingering questions or concerns. 

3. Pack smart.

When packing for boarding school, it’s important to be both sensible and sentimental. Boarding school rooms can be small, so streamline your packing list to avoid clutter.  

Some important boarding school essentials include: 

  • Both comfortable and dressy clothing;
  • A few dorm room decorations;
  • Mementos from home, such as photos of family and friends;
  • Cozy comforts like blankets and robes;
  • Organizational items like shoe racks, drawer dividers, and bins;
  • And desk items to help you work smarter, such as a lamp, whiteboard, planner, and office supplies. 

4. Encourage healthy living.

Talking to your child about health and wellness may earn you eye rolls, but it’s worth it—at boarding school, your child will be more in control of their lifestyle choices. 

In the time leading up to boarding school, give your child gentle reminders of the things that will now be their responsibility to manage: personal hygiene, physical activity, cleaning and organizing their physical space, getting proper sleep, and eating healthy. (Not sure if they’re listening? Save articles, or write them notes, to send after they leave to reiterate certain points.)

5. Offer your support.

Remind your child that even though they live on campus, you are just a phone call (or a text, email, or DM) away. Reiterate how important it is for your child to lean on their support system and that there are no wrong emotions during big, life-changing events. Telling your child that your door (or phone) is always open will hopefully help them share any issues they may have once they are on campus. 

Sending your child to boarding school is a big decision, but with the right preparation, the transition can be positive and exciting for everyone in the family.

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