29 September 2016
Keeping in touch with boarders Enrolling your child in a boarding school is a huge and heart wrenching decision and not one that you took lightly. Once made you’ll feel confident your motives were the right ones; you want the undeniable benefits the school will bring your child. You also know that not being there to mop up tears, to help with homework, resolve daily crises and talk about boys, or girls, is going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life. But you are doing this for your child’s best future.
For expat parents, boarding school is often the best, and sometimes only, option available to us. Schools in our new country may be failing our children in many ways. Perhaps they are of an age where they need a good, solid education in their home country due to looming exams and higher education options. Alternatively, you may have to move so often your child’s continuity of education is severely damaged.
One of the biggest challenges faced by parents of a boarder is keeping in touch in the ‘right’ way. Staying connected to your child at boarding school when the daily distance between you is measured in miles, rather than by which room they choose to be in can be difficult to come to terms with. But it’s perfectly possible.
Is there a right or wrong way to keep in touch? We thought it might help if we shared some of our experience and observations with you, from families with children in boarding schools in their home country.
What’s the school’s policy? This is one of the most important considerations when it comes to keeping in touch. Does the school allow mobile phones? Will the children only have access to them on certain days and times? Will they have email? Is there a parent/teacher website to allow you to keep in touch with your child’s tutors and receive regular progress reports?
Most boarding schools have an internet ‘parent portal’. Here, the school may share photos and videos of activities your child participates in, with regular updates on what the children have been up to. And of course to share reports and results with individual parents. This will mean you can find out how your child is getting on rather than relying on the (perhaps biased) report of your child. Most schools also allow mobile technology and there is ample opportunity for the children to make and receive calls, although this will generally be restricted to evenings and weekends to avoid disrupting lessons.