Any boarding school mums with new boarders this term? (all boarding mums welcome)

(77 Posts)
SoggySummer Tue 04-Sep-12 18:56:22

I thought I would start a thread for boarding mums with DC either new to boarding or starting boarding at a new school this term. Seasoned BS mums also welcome - your wisdom will be appreciated.

I am a mum of 2 DDs aged 11 and 13. Both full board and have done for a few years now. Eldest DD has just transferred from her prep school to a completely new senior school (into year 9). My youngest DD is still home for until she returns for her prep school next week.

Anyone else have a new boarder or a current boarder just returning or returned back to school?

happygardening Tue 04-Sep-12 21:01:58

We're about to go into our 8 th year of /full boarding. DS started when at prep when he was 7. We've experienced highs and significant lows in the past; currently on an up and hoping it will continue into the last 4 years.

Yes have two boarders in different schools. DD (17) just in final year ( has only full boarded for the last year- switched schools at 16) and she went back last week. Really enjoys boarding and the independence it gives her and makes the most of it.

DC (14) just went back yesterday for 2nd year of boarding at his school. Loves the school and had highs and lows last year in terms of how much he enjoyed boarding. It was very much his decision to do this, but certainly the last few weeks he was very would up about going back- much more so than when he started new last year!

His HM is fab though and says about half the house ( even very senior boys) feel like this after the long summer break, but within a week things settle down. DC phoned late last night to tell us about he timetable and that he had put all his posters up- so surviving so far! And he sounded happy!

How is everyone else doing?

Mutteroo Wed 05-Sep-12 11:34:35

Isn't it funny? Schoolchauffeur you talk about independence but this is the one thing DS felt he lacked at boarding school. It may well be because he boarded from yr9-11 & didn't get to experience the joys of sixth form? He's attending a local sixth form college with a glut of prep school buddies who have all chosen to leave ther respective public schools & attend the same college.

I wish all boarding parents old & new luck. It's been a hard 3 years for me & I'm personally glad DS is back home .....at least till he heads off for uni!

happygardening Wed 05-Sep-12 11:35:24

We d

SoggySummer Wed 05-Sep-12 12:45:15

Glad there are some replies on here. I waas rather worried I would be chatting to myself!

Well I am rather emotional.

Eldest DD 13 does not cope with change very well at all. Hence why we opted for BS a few years back (frequent house moving and change of schools). She went off to her new senior BS earlier this week. I have had 2 phonecalls and several texts. Her voice sounded a little bit high and wobbly last night (which made me have a lump in my throat). She was chatty enough telling me about loads of stuff but she sounded very confused and rather stressed about a few things, more so with the school side of things than the boarding house stuff. I keep telling her to go and ask and ask and ask again and that because she is new no one will expect her know exactly what to do and where to go in these early days.

I felt rubbish last night after chatting to her because she kept saying she was fine but I could tell her voice wobbled a few times sad. I ended up emailing her housemistress who promptly got back to me, reassured me and is going to go over a few things with DD again today and keep an eye on her.

Its a massive change from small prep to large secondary and she has so much to take in that I actually think she is doing fab on the whole but I am stressing out a bit today. Its always tough after the long summer break but the whole new school thing is tough all round as well. New staff, new friends, new rules, new ways of doing stuff for the DC and parents!!

Am just making up a small parcel to send upto her with a pair of shorts (amongst a few other small treats) as the forecast this weekend is hot hot hot and she has packed jeans and autumnal clothes!!

How are the rest of you and your DC doing?

derekthehamster Wed 05-Sep-12 12:49:46

We weren't allowed to phone our ds last year when he first started, for the first 3 weeks, God that was hard for us! We had one phonecall from ds and his housemaster, a week in just to reassure us grin We sent lots of postcards during those first weeks, and still send 1 a week. Amazon is your friend too, you can send loads of fun things directly to them.

goinggetstough Wed 05-Sep-12 12:51:42

Good luck to all the new boarders!

Mutteroo my DCs have now left boarding school but I believe they too enjoyed their independence as schoolchauffeur mentions. From 13 they have flown home to us abroad. Yes, school transport took them to the airport at 13 when they were younger, but they still had to pack their own cases and get themselves sorted and from 15 get their train times sorted etc.

For activities e.g. D of E if they wanted to take snacks on their exped then they had to go into town and buy them and there was no parent to ask at the last minute etc or a shopping list to add their requests to. They have had to manage their own work etc Now I am sure many of you can pick holes in my above examples ( but they are only example) as I realise that day DCs have many of these skills too.

Boarders do have housemasters and tutors making sure they are OK but it is not the same as parents breathing down your neck or so my DC tell me. Schools though too vary so it is probably difficult to generalise as there will always be an exception. I believe my DCs benefited from their boarding experience.

I've just sent my DS back for his final year at prep school. He was really looking forward to going back as really, he's had a bit of a dull summer. No exciting holidays this year (DH has own business and there's not a lot of cash around at the moment) and he has spent probably too much time by himself. Although on the plus side he's been a great companion for me - prep school has really helped him with maturing, and I've had some lovely (and weird smile) conversations with him.

I'm missing him hugely. It doesn't help that I've had to ask my parents to drop him off as I've had to return to work today.

Definitely a rapid eye blinking and wobbly lip day today.

I'm going to send him a little parcel and sneak some haribo in to the corners. smile

Mutteroo- yes my DD says she doesn't think she would have enjoyed boarding in the 13-16 years in her current school as it is much more controlled. The school makes a very conscious decision to give the sixth form pupils more of a taste of independent living. Still has to wear uniform and do chapel/activities etc but work organisation is entirely your own, off on expedition- you go to shop and hire all the equipment from school, arrange your own snacks etc, arrange your own medical etc appointments, go into town with some time restrictions to socialize/buy stuff. No set study periods in evening-its down to you to fit your work in around the other stuff.

DCs independence is more organizational- ie off on a rugby fixture on saturday he has to find the notice which tells you what uniform to wear, remember to pack kit bag, ensure kits is washed in time, pack shower kit etc. But if had too much freedom would never do any work anyway!!!

happygardening Wed 05-Sep-12 14:33:42

We dont go back till Sunday DS says he's looking forward to seeing in friends again although will "miss being at home" too. I never call he always calls me and when he changed to his senior school last year he didn't call for about 6 days. But we do txt each other most days. We won't see him till the first exeat at the end of September. Maybe I'm hardened to it after all these years but I take the view that if he has a problem at school his first port of call is his excellent HM although he knows we're always there if necessary.
I love Amazon I buy lots of second hand books often only costing a penny and send at least one almost weekly. My DS is frighteningly independent but after 7 years of boarding this is hardly suprising but so many comment on our obviously close relationship we all get on so well together much better than many who haven't boarded.

That's good to hear your DS say that about missing home but still wanting to go back. DS sat in the pub near the school we always go to for dinner on the way back and said" Half of me wants to go to school and see my friends and do everything" and "Half of me wants to go home".

At the time I was a bit sad but after reading your post actually that's probably quite healthy- to enjoy being in one place but miss another.
Thanks Happy Gardening!

happygardening Wed 05-Sep-12 16:19:28

I think it is normal to feel like this my DS is happy and busy at school but also loves being at home with us. Contrary to what the so tedious anti boarding brigade think children even 7 yr olds are perfectly capable of being happy in both places.

goinggetstough Wed 05-Sep-12 16:27:53

HG I am sure you are correct but I don't think we will ever convince the others!

happygardening Wed 05-Sep-12 16:37:45

I think it is normal to feel like this my DS is happy and busy at school but also loves being at home with us. Contrary to what the so tedious anti boarding brigade think children even 7 yr olds are perfectly capable of being happy in both places.

NeverKnowinglyUnderstood Wed 05-Sep-12 16:43:34

Ladies, I don't want to disagree, but I think it is accurate to say that SOME children are capable of being happy in both places, however, it would be in accurate to say that this is a good option for ALL children.
Most of the totally anti boarding brigade are ex boarders for whom it was not a good/great experience - first hand experiences of sadness at boarding school.

I think it is great that your children are happy and content with the choices you have made.

happygardening Wed 05-Sep-12 16:47:34

Oops somehow managed to post same message twice!! You are right going despite the fact that many comment on how happy we seem as a family and also that my DS is quite obviously not dysfunctional sociopath and that I can give examples of 100s of other children who also board who are not dysfunctional sociopath and have outstanding relationships with their families the anti boarding brigade who lets face it know nothing about 21 st century boarding will still harp on emotional damage/life long scarring etc.

happygardening Wed 05-Sep-12 16:50:57

"Most of the totally anti boarding brigade are ex boarders for whom it was not a good/great experience - first hand experiences of sadness at boarding school."
"who lets face it know nothing about 21 st century boarding will still harp on emotional damage/life long scarring etc."
I rest my case!!

NeverKnowinglyUnderstood Wed 05-Sep-12 16:53:52

but by using the language that you are using you are being extremely insensitive about the experiences that they have had.
"still harp on about emotional damage"

It is accurate to say that boarding is different now, that communication between families and children is easier but that doesn't mean that their experience isnt valid.

SoggySummer Wed 05-Sep-12 17:23:57

I hope this thread does not get dragged down (like every other BS thread) with boarding school horror stories, and people telling us how wrong we are. I just wanted to start a thread for mums in the same situation. Other mums can talk about missing their DC or being glad to get shot of them on the first week back - why cant we?? Its just different.

I totally agree NeverKnowingly - Boarding is not right for EVERY child. Even today with the open door policy, all the safeguardings and easier and frequent communications.

Well I have just had a rather ominous text from DD1 saying "Finally the end of a long and stressful day". Not much else to it except that she will call me later.

happygardening Wed 05-Sep-12 17:26:08

Firstly there are many children who have been or are unhappy at school for a whole raft of reasons and many of these don’t board.
Secondly whilst I accept their experiences are valid so are my experiences equally if not more valid because my experiences are based on current practices. But the ones I find most irritating are those who have no direct experience of boarding at best they are prejudiced by anecdotal evidence of their husband wife’s cousin time at his boarding prep 35 years ago or even worse those who know absolutely nothing about it and just assume that boarding must be bad and that parents who choose to board their children are callous and uncaring and delighted to see the back of their offspring so that they can get on with their lives.
The portrait portrayed by many has no resemblance to 21st century boarding, the descriptions of the effect of boarding is unrecognisable from any one I have ever met who has boarded or is currently boarding.
Its not for all but that doesn’t mean that there are not 1000’s of happy well-adjusted children with happy caring parents.

HolofernesesHead Wed 05-Sep-12 19:14:42

Hello there, another boarding mum checking in! smile Good to see this thread - let's support each other!

SoggySummer Wed 05-Sep-12 19:41:33

Just had a 40 minute chat with my lovely DD smile

She sounded alot better tonight although bless her I can tell she is stressed right out. I think she is totally overhwelmed with finding her way about her new school. She keeps getting lost and although has a few buddies the system seems to fail because they are setted for different subjects and sometimes she seems to just be left to find her way to somewhere.

She has found some clubs she wants to join but hasnt sussed out how exactly she joins them as she does not know who to see or where to go.

She seems happy with the boarding side but stressed right out with the school side of things.

I just wish I could give her a hug sad. I am so proud of her, it sounds manic and I think she is absolutely dead on her feet and has information overload poor kid.

Feeling kind of emotional now.

SoggySummer Wed 05-Sep-12 19:44:04

HolofernesesHead - are you a seasoned boarding mum?? Have yours just gone back?? How are they/he/she getting on so far this term?

I have been a boarding mum for 5 years but this new school thing has really got my bottom lip wobbling at the mo.

Colleger Wed 05-Sep-12 20:40:37

Just send DS off to first year of senior school. He did board at prep and the senior school is actually much closer and the house is so warm and lovely that I think I will see him more and be more part of the school. It's not a place where they want parents to stay away, which surprised me. smile

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