You’re just back from your trip to Target, the fresh sheets are on, the posters are hung, and the laundry basket is waiting in the corner. It is time to leave your child for the first time with a group of people you barely know. You are scared, but a little excited. And, while your freshly minted boarding student seems fine, you are hoping to make it to the car before the waterworks begin. Welcome to the life of a new boarding school parent.
Luckily, there are a lot of ways for parents to be involved in campus life at boarding schools, so that you don’t have to wait for a FaceTime call from your kid (between soccer practice and play rehearsal!) to feel like you are still part of the fun. Boarding school communities are close-knit and very welcoming, so don’t be afraid—just jump in!
Become a Team or Program Parent
Boarding school athletics teams often travel great distances for weekly sporting events. So, if you live within striking distance, make sure to check your child’s athletic calendar to see when they might be swinging through your area. Teams can always use extra support for away games, so, grab some gear from the Campus Store and wear those colors proudly. You should also plan trips to campus around big games or school plays and musical performances so that you don’t miss any of those big moments.
In addition to attending events, you can also be in touch with the team coaches or program leaders about becoming a Team or Program Parent. Your child and their pals would love a few cheesy pizzas after their game or performance, and it’s parents working together that makes these occasions happen. Plus, it is a great way to get to know other parents in the community.
House Event Host
The thing kids say they miss most at boarding school is a home-cooked meal. If you want to give your child a taste of home in their new House setting, consider “hosting” a dorm party by coordinating with other parents and the House Head to send favorite dishes for an in-dorm party. Or, just plan an ice cream social or a picnic! You are sure to score some major points with your kid (and their friends), plus, it is another great way to get to know more of your school’s parent body.
Host a Regional Event
You might think that because you live 2000 miles away there is no way of being involved in school life or meeting other parents. However, students come to boarding schools from all over the globe, so you could be surprised to find connections to your school in your home community. Reach out to the school for a list of families local to your area, and then, set up an afternoon of coffee or an evening with fellow school families. You could also work with your school’s Admission office to host a gathering of prospective families.
Build Your Own Volunteer Experience
Each parent has something unique to offer, and schools are always excited to tap into resources within the community. If you have knowledge in a particular subject area, you might guest-teach a class, or provide professional development opportunities for faculty on campus. You could also offer internship opportunities for older students or alumni of the school. At New Hampton School, parents have volunteered to run Project Week, with opportunities as varied as an in-depth study of US foreign policy to a week of working in and running a family-owned business.
Family Weekend is a given, but, there are other events throughout the year where you can get to know the community, in-person or virtually. Parent Zoom calls, parent coffees with the Head of School, a parent book club, or regional events that take place across the globe: any and all of these are a great way to become immersed in the vibrant community your student has chosen.
If you have any questions about opportunities for parents at New Hampton School, contact Jacqueline Truesdale P’18, ’19, ’22, ’23 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.