DD trial boarding homesick comes home Friday

(23 Posts)
Dreamgirls234 Tue 29-Apr-14 21:37:09

Hi all

From previous thread dd is not at ackworth trial boarding a week and feels very homesick. The girl she is sharing with is very naughty and leaves her to be alone. She has attended clubs etc but finds it lonely afterwards. Also she sleeps with a lamp on at home and it's not allowed there,would it be worth mentioning when she goes permanently if she could have a light on?(ie lamp). So any hints/tips on how she can help lessen the homesickness?

Unexpected Tue 29-Apr-14 22:10:26

What age is your daughter? Was she happy to board?

summerends Tue 29-Apr-14 22:18:43

Usual advice, speak to the houseparent or relevant member of the pastoral team. The 'quiet' times are always the worse but there should be other boarders who can look after her. If there is a communal area she should go there or ask for some company. Not sure about the light as won't that disturb her room mate but again the houseparents may have a solution.

tastingthestars Tue 29-Apr-14 22:20:37

Hi dreamgirls, sorry to hear DD isn't having a great time.

How far into the week is she?

She's bound to have some difficulties, as it is only a week. Once she's there full time I'm sure it'll feel much better for her. Being in the rhythm of school life and when the others know she is there 'to stay' will make a huge difference. It's so hard to get a real taste for life at a school from just one week, especially when everyone else is busy with their days.

That said, not everyone settles straight away which is when the housemistress/matron/whoever can step in to help out. It's going to be really important to keep positive for starting full time in September; you need to keep DD's spirits up.

How have her lessons and so on been? Have the other pupils been friendly there?

Personality clashes do happen in shared rooms, and it might be worth asking whether it's expected that DD will be sharing with this girl in September. There may be room mix ups over the summer - different houses and schools do this in different ways.

As regards to the light - well I've only come across this with younger girls and tend to compromise on a low lit night light. Sharing a room does mean compromises on both sides- but it is important that neither girl(s) dominate. Perhaps DD could try to get used to sleeping without a light over the next few months at home?

As for lessening the homesickness - what do the girls get up to after prep? Encourage DD to go out of her room to join in with any 'hanging out' that's going on.

real help for homesickness will kick in from the pastoral team if she feels this way once she's there full time. For this week, it's hard, but she needs to keep her head up and get involved. It's very natural to miss home at night, but if she's making the most of the days I hope she'll feel more positive about it. If the school suggested this taster week, they should be keeping their eye out on her to check it's all ok.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Tue 29-Apr-14 22:33:16

Did your DD start at the weekend? Or Monday?

It might have been better if they had advised her not to spend much time ringing home - other than simply to confirm she is safe. Any time she spends talking to you is valuable time that might be better spent either trying to socialise or working or resting.

Of course she'll find it all strange - but, in the absence of any serious problem, she must try to rely on her own resources. It will be hard for her to have a successful week if, at the back of her mind she's looking to you to "solve" things.

Please try not to worry - and particularly try not to show her that you worry. You must both have been looking forward to this for a long time; don't let her confuse "the natural struggle to settle in" with "a problem".

I hope she's happier by the end of the week.

Dancingqueen17 Tue 29-Apr-14 23:18:15

I work in a boarding house and strongly advise you getting in touch with the house staff. Hopefully they will have clocked that she is not settled but if not a tip off will help them to help her. None of the problems you mention are unusual or insurmountable. Homesickness is very normal and does get better. Also remember that homesickness is likely to be worse when talking to mum so don't assume that because she was upset on the phone to you that she will be upset all evening. The number of times I've seen kids wailing to mum or dad and with in two minutes in fits of giggles with their mates are too many to count. As for the lamp issue again chat to the house staff. We sometimes use night lights (the plug in to a socket kind). Maybe you could try and wean her off the lamp over the summer. Maybe use a lamp with a dimmer switch and gradually reduce the light or get really low watt bulbs, or leave a landing light on with door open etc. just an idea!

schoolnurse Wed 30-Apr-14 06:34:26

I also work in a boarding school and my DC has boarded since prep and agree with what others say; talk to the house staff, don't keep calling her, some schools forbid contact between parent and child for the first two weeks, home sickness is normal, there will always be those who take to boarding like a duck to water but even they will have odd periods of home sickness, in my now very extensive most take two terms to fully settle and the very home sick longer. We had a boy three years ago who we all thought would never settle he was so unhappy, I saw him at school the other day and he looked so happy I hardly recognised him, on enquiring he was telling me about his sporting success etc.
You say she lonely after activities, how many boarders are there? In schools with lots of boarders activities/lessons often go on to at least 6 PM, then dinner and prep and then it's 9 ish and soon it's bed time. In fact many boarders complain about the lack of time to just sit and do nothing. Most boarding schools keep children busy busy busy so they have less time to get homesick.
When your DD starts in September will she be with a large group of new girls starting boarding? If yes this I think will be easier for her, others will be in the same position, most schools organise an activities programs for the first few weeks to help children see what the school offers etc but also to keep them occupied, it's easier to make friends when there are others in the same boat, rather than break into existing friendship groups,
With regard to the light, boarding is about compromise, and living along side others whose habits you may not like but you also don't want to annoy a room mate so I think you should try to ween her off the light, try to get her to sleep with and without it boarders need to be flexible. Like many nurses who've worked shifts I can sleep with every light on in the house but my DH can't stand any light, I on the other hand unless completely exhausted can't tolerate any ticking however quiet. Give her a small torch to have by her bed, or a phone/iPad give off low light.
Finally you must remain positive, children so quickly pick up on our anxiety, I'm assuming you both choose boarding, that's it's not been forced on you. When you both looked around you must have liked what you saw, keep reminding yourself and your DD about this, what's positive about boarding e.g. able to do an activity she wouldn't normally have the chance to do. Don't let the longish gap between now and starting in September be a time where she becomes increasingly worried about her choice. Ask the school if you could have the contact details of at least one other girl in her year who will be starting with her in September, most parents jump at the chance, or if the school aren't keen to give you others children contact details (some aren't) give them your details and ask the school to pass them onto to a couple of parents try to arrange to meet up a few times so at least so that when she starts she will know someone.

Forlornhope Wed 30-Apr-14 06:36:32

"Don't call her"
Why not just have your kid living at home with you? There's an idea.

schoolnurse Wed 30-Apr-14 06:45:01

Forlonhope well that's a constructive comment that I'm sure the OP will find really helpful. Do you have any other pearls of wisdom to encourage and help the OP's DD settle into her new school?
People choose boarding for a whole variety of reasons, you may not like it and your DC's may not want to board but many children of all ages do board and have a wonderful time. Boarding equips children with very valuable life skills that will stand them in good stead when they are adults both in their personal lives and work lives, it also provides many with opportunities they wouldn't have normally. No one should be forced to board but just because you don't like it or agree with it doesn't mean others feel the same or have negative experiences.

Artus Wed 30-Apr-14 06:59:47

Please be careful over this. Obviously take the advice that others have given and speak to the house staff about helping her settle. But please listen to her if she does not settle.

Three years of desperate unhappiness at boarding school, dismissed by the school and my parents has scarred my life, undermined my confidence and damaged my relationship with my parents permanently. Forty years later I cannot easily speak about it or visit the village where the school was.

Every child is different and for some children it is not the best thing. Others will thrive.

Dreamgirls234 Wed 30-Apr-14 07:00:33

She loves her school day and lessons. Really does love them. I'm sure over time it will lessen. And there's not a home coming in September as far as I'm aware.she does a sporting activity from 4 till 5:15 tea is at 5:30 and then prep is from 6:30-8. It's just little periods in between that it gets to her.

schoolnurse Wed 30-Apr-14 07:04:56

I absolutely agree Artus some never settle and being in a day school is the best option for them. But it's impossible to say which way this will go after 1 week. The OP's DD needs to give it a reasonable period of time. As a general rule we find that those who by their third term are still really really miserable, are not participating in what the school has to offer and are also often not meeting their academic expectations then we start advising parents to find alternative options.

meditrina Wed 30-Apr-14 07:11:44

Welcome to MN Folornhope

OP has posted extensively about the factors which led to her DD choosing a boarding place. I do not think this thread about settling in is the place to snipe about them.

Forlornhope Wed 30-Apr-14 07:42:05

as a veteran of boarding school... I am suggesting that perhaps its not vital.

Forlornhope Wed 30-Apr-14 07:42:23

Lol at welcome.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Wed 30-Apr-14 07:43:28

Artus if you're writing out of genuine feeling you really must, for your own sake, find an opportunity to visit some modern boarding schools!

I also boarded (though more happily) several decades ago -and I am continuously astonished at the absolutely vast amount of fun today's boarders have. The endless opportunities.... I don't believe the word "happiness" was ever used in my own school prospectus - now it is the stated and practical day to day aim of every member of staff (at any decent school.)

Of course not every child enjoys boarding. Not every child enjoys the school five minutes walk from home...

Please find a friend who is investigating boarding for their child and tag along. Or at least browse some websites. It might help to rid you of the weight of remembered misery. I really hate to think of you sitting over your screen genuinely believing that every boarding family is setting out to damage a child.

Kenlee Wed 30-Apr-14 07:46:17

I have to agree that boarding is not for everyone. My daughter is in her third term of boarding. It hasn't been all roses and petals and she has learnt to deal with some awkward individuals. Yet she has also met some very good friends and loves the time spent with her.

On the light issue DD use to sleep with the lights on at home. Now she doesn't. As for the down time. All I can say is that in my DD dorm there are three children and they do ask to goto bed 10 mins earlier so they can chat before sleeping. You will find that there will always be one that matches your DD in character and will gel and bond. Yet there will be some that are opposites. Boarding teaches her to accept friendship but also to accept people nay be different and to live together.

You will find that your DD will return more positive and much more confident.

Best advice I can give is tell House mistress....she will be experienced enough to get her through it. She probably has dealt with over a hundred cases already

O...yes school trips are great for bonding and...

The only problem we find is that when she is back. She will be always whatsapping her friends. So you have to be prepared for that..

happygardening Wed 30-Apr-14 07:55:52

I'm sorry to read that your DD was unsettled although it's great to see she enjoyed the lessons etc. There are from what you've said longish periods of "inactivity" especially between end of prep and bed time a time when children can get home sick. What do the others girls do? I'm assuming there's a common area where there's a TV etc, does she play an instrument and can she use part of this time to practice, or does the school have a gym she can access or go to the library? Can she go to another house if she has friends in there? It's likely that as she was only there for a short time she has not yet sussed out what's available and what she's allowed to do plus it sounds as if her dorm mate wasn't overly helpful. Are there other boarders or is this girl likely to be sharing with her again when she starts in September? Secondly this term is often quieter with regard to plays rehearsals etc because at least three year groups are revising for up coming exams etc and then many leave early after their exams. Talk to your HM with your DD find out what others do in quiet times.

happygardening Wed 30-Apr-14 08:05:53

Forlornhope no it's not vital to send your DC to a boarding school but many feel that this it is the best and in some cases the only option for their DC.
We have no right to make judgemental comments about peoples choices, the OP's has as meditrina stated posted extensively about her DD and I very doubt made the decision to board her rashly.
What ever your views on boarding I hope that you would agree that what ever our children do whether it be boarding, a new sport or a particular subject choice they should not be allowed to give it up as soon as they are unhappy. We should not be encouraging our children to run away from something as soon as it gets hard or they feel sad. Then perhaps this is another essential life skill that boarders quickly learn!

Dreamgirls234 Wed 30-Apr-14 13:22:40


She's texted today. As she's enjoying it more and more it's just sometimes she has times where she wants to go home. It is her first time away from home. Thanks for all your advice. fornlornhope if you'd read previous threads there has been a lot of effort into my dd going to ackworth so don't be quick to judge. If is not all the time she is homesick only when she isn't occupied and the boarders tend to use the common rooms more at weekends but of course my dd will only be weekly.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Wed 30-Apr-14 13:33:34

Don't want to alarm you OP but your DD may soon be clamouring to board full time....

How are you getting on now she's actually there? Thrilled? Relieved? A little bereft?

Artus Wed 30-Apr-14 14:15:26

Thanks Zero. You are right that my experience of boarding school is a long time ago.

I am glad to hear the OP's daughter is finding her feet and I'm sure she will settle in well in time.

I certainly dont think parents are intentionally setting out to damage their children(mine were not but certainly did) so I will bow out as this an emotive topic for me.

Dreamgirls234 Wed 30-Apr-14 22:01:33

I'm relieved. She's sorted missing tv out after a 6th former gave her his password to watch I player etc... Alls good and my baby is home Friday x

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