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(42 Posts)
Kenlee Thu 14-Nov-13 07:56:39

I am lucky my daughter has settled into boarding life very well. Although I have a friend who is not so lucky. what can be done if your a parent several thousand miles away to help...

Longtalljosie Sun 17-Nov-13 07:35:08

Why shouldn't they be happy? Goodness. Well - that one's simple. Because people - all people but especially children - need their families around them. They need individual care and attention, especially through their teenage years.

Why would boarders still board if they're unhappy? Well, firstly because as I say, boarding schools tell you that the right sort of person (ie a worthwhile person who's worth anything at all) will "thrive" at boarding school. It's accepted there are people who don't take to it but the unspoken (but nonetheless very clear) implication is that these sorts of people are deeply inferior and weak. There's also a lot of pressure not to upset your parents.

You are paying money for boarding - a lot of it. In my case, the services paid almost all of it but even the remainder plus uniform costs etc was a real stretch. Add the pressure above, and you feel obligated to make your parents happy by making them feel the investment you're making is working.

schoolnurse Sun 17-Nov-13 09:52:24

We have unhappy children at our school, both a day and boarders by the way. From experience there are also unhappy children in all day schools both state and independent who many years later will post on forums stating how miserable they and their friends were or during reunions find other like minded souls and discuss how awful it all was.
My colleagues and I are trained and committed to identifying and assisting unhappy children, we are proud to offer a 24 hour confidential and independent service and are in many cases the children's advocates in a variety of situations, on top of this as nurses we have a legal duty of care. As a rough estimate only about 10% of our children are unhappy and only in a few cases is this unhappiness caused by homesickness most have significant issues at home in fact we have a few who would rather be with us than at home, others are struggling with academic or other expectation again usually coming from parents as demonstrated by a recent study. The other 90% in my professional judgement and as a mother are having a time of their lives, they are getting a good education but also loads of opportunities that children in day schools don't get and are surrounded by their friends all the time, enjoying the camaraderie that's associated with boarding and certainly in our case also supported by caring dedicated staff.
I accept you were unhappy and if you a boarder sitting in my surgery today telling me you were were unhappy I would do all in my power to help you but please don't assume that your experience will apply to all in boarding schools in 2013.

Kenlee Sun 17-Nov-13 13:21:54

I still dont get it... My daughter is having a wail of a time..She actually said that she wished her friends can come back home with her over Christmas.

I understand that some girls that board arent happy. Although I know one girl who wasnt to happy and extremely homesick. The girl was picked up immediately by the house matron and is doing really well....

My friends daughter is not doing well....and I am not happy about that....Im sure a talk with the house matron should help...and if it doesnt a change of schools...

When I left in September I spent some time to talk to the older girls ...almost all said it was great...

summerends Sun 17-Nov-13 13:42:09

Kenlee, your daughter may have the personality to make new friends easily plus she has started in a year where every one is new so is geared up for that. Your friend's daughter (as has already been said) does not have the advantage of the latter and may also have a personality that takes longer to find and make good friends. It does not necessarily mean that the school will not be right for her but, for example if she is feeling ostracised and the quality of the lessons and activities is not living up to expectations, then it might be worth considering an earlier move (bearing in mind disruption to GCSE syllabuses if that is an issue since she is in year 10).

Kenlee Sun 17-Nov-13 14:57:44

This is exactly what I mean boarding is not for everyone...but to say boarding in general is not true....

Im certain my friends daughter is an exception rather than the norm...

OldRoan Sun 17-Nov-13 15:12:48

I started boarding in Y10 (but not overseas). I loved being at home, longtalljosie, but our local schools were awful and I was reduced to tears on a nightly basis so, for me, even at 14 I knew I had to make a difficult decision and I was fortunate that my parents supported me. I was happy boarding in terms of pastoral and educational welfare, but when I was at home I was a nervous wreck from Sunday night to Friday evening which is no way to live a life.

I made friends quickly, but was certainly aware that I was the 'new girl' for quite a time. It is possible that the discomfort comes from your friend's daughter, rather than her peers, and that is perfectly natural. I saw my parents often, and spoke to them regularly (I appreciate this isn't always possible).

My best friend started boarding in Y9, and we quickly bonded, but all the staff commented that she was much happier when I was there. I don't mean that arrogantly, just that once she clicked with someone everyone saw an instant change in her happiness. She told me how much she hated Y9: her parents told her to stick out the year and then decide. By having an end in sight, she was happier, but equally by the time the year was up she had settled better.

My sister was miserable for the first two terms. It does take time. Some people are ready to board earlier than others, some will never be ready. I think she needs to stick it out, if only for the year, then chalk it up to experience and move on. She's 14 - old enough to be miserable (and yes, to be affected long term by it), but also old enough to know she is nearly 1/3 of The way through the year now and the worst is over. They'll be ramping up for Christmas soon and that is a lovely distraction.

Longtalljosie Sun 17-Nov-13 16:23:11

schoolnurse, while at boarding school I would never, ever have told a member of staff I was unhappy. I would have insisted I was. You don't get it - but I do understand that.

schoolnurse Sun 17-Nov-13 16:42:36

Actually I do get it I get it more than you imagine because unlike perhaps when you were at boarding school we monitor the psychological as well as physical health of all our children very carefully. Children don't just have to sit there telling us that they're unhappy we are constantly watching out for signs if unhappiness, we are not only regularly in houses just getting to know the children in our care so that we can spot changes we are part of a multi disciplinary team constantly watching out for unspoken signs of trouble. We have also created a culture in our school of seeking help, turning to nurses, matron, tutors, chaplains etc and I can reassure it's extensively used by our children the vast majority of children (and their parents) recently reported they felt exceedingly well cared for and supported, all knew who to turn too and felt comfortable doing this. You and your friends were clearly unhappy at boarding school which is very tragic but this does not mean all children boarding were unhappy then and it definitely doesn't mean all children boarding are unhappy now.

OldRoan Sun 17-Nov-13 16:49:25

schoolnurse definitely agree! we could get signed off if we were feeling a bit run down or mopey - think it was easier to get a sick day out of matron than my mum - because they were so good at spotting when we needed tough love and when we needed a bit of time and space to sort ourselves out and stop a bit of a down day turning into anything worse.

Kenlee Sun 17-Nov-13 18:50:33

Well I know that Im grateful that our house matron is rather clever....she can spot trouble a million miles before it gets close she has already dealt with it....

I do believe that the pastoral care in most modern boarding is the same. Of course there will be unhappy kids. My friend is flying over at Christmas to see what needs to be done. What can be done ..and to implement a plan that is workable. She has rung matron and they
have seen nothing untowards.

coffeeaddict Sun 17-Nov-13 20:18:49

Longtalljosie, I went to both day and boarding schools and was FAR happier at the boarding school. The girls were nicer. The atmosphere was easier. At my London day school there were some real b*tches who gave me a constant hard time for being musical and 'swotty'. At the boarding school being musical was cool. And the facilities were amazing, life in house was fun... I felt like I'd gone to heaven.

I'm really sorry you were sad but you can't generalise and say that therefore all boarders must be sad.

Kenlee Tue 19-Nov-13 01:33:16

I think it also depends if you have friends or not.... or even if the girls are the right type....

But as I have seen with one particular girl they (boarding staff) will try everything to help the girls settle...

In fact im surprised that my friends school aren't doing the same..

trufflesnuffler Tue 19-Nov-13 01:42:15


after watching Homeland I expected a completely different thread wink

HelenRN Sun 24-Nov-13 21:55:51

As a Houseparent at a British state boarding school, I can say that some children take to boarding straight away......but others need more support. In these cases, all staff should be very aware of homesickness....making sure contact home is regular, whether it is by phone,email,Skype....and also trying to match the pupil with a pupil 'buddy' look out for them at school and when back at the Boarding House. A good boarding house should feel 'homely', and parents should feel confident that Houseparents are approachable and friendly. I find that quick emails home or phone calls giving informal updates about what their child is doing,really helps parents to feel relaxed about things. The main thing is communication and talking to people....and also, the fact that it is OK to be homesick at Houseparents we need to be alert to the signs and provide activities, support,a listening ear, when needed!! We also send out a twice termly newsletter to all parents, and the feedback we have had about it is overwhelmingly positive!! Parents can see their children enjoying themselves and relaxing......this doesnt always come across when pupils call home!!!
I hope this helps smile

Ge0rgina Fri 20-Dec-13 11:30:49

@Kenlee, A friend of mine is experiencing something v similar to this! She did a whole bunch of research (googling mainly!) and found this article, it's only short but I know for a fact it's helped her alot!

I hope this helps!

Ge0rgina Fri 20-Dec-13 11:31:48

shock sorry the link didn't work!

Kenlee Sun 22-Dec-13 20:40:31

thaks i will pass it on

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