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Headmaster Simon Smith offers advice on how to cope with boarding school homesickness

Headmaster Simon Smith offers advice on how to cope with boarding school homesickness

Headmaster Simon Smith

Rydal Penrhos’ Headmaster Simon Smith has offered advice to boarding pupils on how to cope with homesickness.

As part of a special upcoming feature in Independent School Parent Magazine, Mr Smith stated than feeling homesick was a “perfectly natural emotion” and provided suggestions on how best to cope with this issue should it arise.

He said: “Pupil homesickness is a perfectly natural emotion and whilst more likely to happen at the start of a new academic year can occur at any time.

“For parents it can be unsettling too. In addition to worries about how much they are missing you, you are naturally missing them. Boarding House staff are trained in dealing with such incidents but parents too can play a part in managing the transition.

“Firstly, sending the Housemaster or Housemistress a family memento or two eg. Family photographs in advance of the first day means the staff can prepare the room to have more of a homely feel.

“Counter-intuitively this familiar feel to their room will help settle them in. After the first day it’s important to give your child and the school some space. Resist the temptation to call or Skype every evening in the first week or two.

“Many boarding schools insist on the pupils staying in the first weekend to help their child form those all-important friendships and it’s important to support the school in this regard.”

Mr Smith also highlighted Rydal Penrhos’ strong social media presence as a great way for parents to see for themselves the wealth of exciting experiences their children are participating in on any given day, with the wide breadth of platforms providing visual and written ways for them to stay in-touch without picking up the phone.

“I would also recommend keeping a close eye on school and House activities through the school’s website or Twitter feeds,” he added.

“Parents can then see the many varied and positive events taking place and send supportive texts or e-mails asking their child if they enjoyed X or Y rather than focussing on what they might be missing back at home.

“Boarding school life provides enormous opportunities and should be a home from home but whilst nothing can quite replace home comforts parents by trusting the professionalism of the staff, accentuating the positives and communicating with a light touch parents will soon realise that no news from school is good news; they are too busy enjoying boarding school life."

The full article will appear in the next issue of Independent School Parent magazine.

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