Freshman Overnight Orientation at New Hampton School

Helping Students with Homesickness

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Homesickness, it can happen to students of any age when they leave home to attend a boarding high school, and it’s difficult to be a far-away parent. What is a parent’s role if their child experiences this emotion? The Student Life Office works closely with incoming students, new and returning, to make sure that they have the support needed as they transition into life on campus. We’ve also pulled together some helpful information for parents so that they can work hand in hand with the School to support their children.

House bonding activities help to build community early in the school year.
House bonding activities help to build community early in the school year.

Being a parent of a teenager brings new levels of questions, joys, and concerns. When your child attends a boarding school, it multiplies the questions a parent may have regarding his or her role as a parent: when to speak up? When to listen? When to encourage? And when to protect?

Experts have noted a common theme for students returning to or attending boarding schools for the first time. There is often a time of initial excitement or intense positivity (also known as the “honeymoon period”), followed by a drop in positivity. The latter phase typically comes two-four weeks after the start of school, about where we are in our semester now. The most important point for parents and other adults to remember is this: Don’t ask about being homesick. If your child wasn’t experiencing these emotions before, they might after the question. If he or she is experiencing homesickness, remember that this emotion is normal and usually doesn’t last.

International students had a special evening off campus as part of their orientation.
International students had a special evening off campus as part of their orientation.

An article by the Institute for Educational Advancement recommends that as a parent, you can support your child from afar by being a listening ear, and reminding them to take advantage of the resources and activities available to them at school. It’s truly a partnership between parents, faculty, and the Student Life Office.

In addition, here are a few more tips to keep in mind in the next few weeks:

  • Set limits on the frequency of phone calls home.
  • Send snacks or simple, fun gifts in the mail to let them know you’re thinking of them.
  • Occasionally, put a little extra spending money in their account-surprises are welcomed.
  • Encourage your child to make friends at their own pace, and participate in school activities to build connections.
  • Allow your child to solve problems, and direct them to resources on campus so that they become more comfortable and realize the breadth of their support system.

When student, parents, and faculty work together to provide a smooth transition for students, we set them up for a successful year ahead. You can learn more about Student Life at New Hampton, and the Student Life Curriculum which includes monthly themes, discussion topics, and activities on our website.

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