A boarding school can provide your son a truly life changing experience. The introduction to high level academics, a structured environment, and leadership development provided by institutions like Missouri Military Academy gets young men ready for the challenges that lie ahead.
Now that your family is considering whether an all-male, college-preparatory boarding school will provide the best educational opportunities for your son, you may have questions about how you can help your son make a successful transition.
The Decision Process
Preparing to send your son to boarding school begins as soon as you consider it. Young men should be involved in the school selection process. Have your son join you for an open house event or campus tour. This allows both you and your son to get to know faculty and staff, ask questions, meet current students, and learn about opportunities; all to ease anxieties about studying away from home. Talk often and openly with your son about his options, why you feel this is the best decision for his education, and address his concerns.
For most families, this is the most difficult day of the academic year - but there are things you can do to help your son make a smooth transition and simultaneously ease the separation for your family. To begin, be prepared in advance so that registration is not an all-day affair. When arriving for registration, be ready with all required forms. When the time comes to say your goodbyes don’t linger. . It’s okay to tell him that you will miss him and that this will be hard for you as a parent – but leave it on a positive note by stating that you are confident that you’ll both handle this -and that he will soon reap the rewards of his success.
Once you depart, MMA staff will immediately busy your son with his new cadet training and socializing. There will be other boys who are either in a similar situation or who have already been through their first day, and they all bond through that mutual experience.
During the Academic Year
Separation anxiety or “homesickness” is a familiar part of the first few weeks of boarding school. In order to help him through this process, expect it so that you aren’t surprised when it happens. Try to avoid inquiring whether he is missing home - allow him to bring it up.
If he does express homesickness, it’s important to be supportive by reassuring him that he is capable of dealing with it, but you are always available to listen. Do not offer to remove him. Remember that you are trying to teach him how to stand on his own feet. Reinforce his accomplishment, remind him of what he has gained so far and encourage him to seek mentorship and counsel from faculty and staff, enabling him to grow relationships within the school and seek out solutions to his own problems.
The military style educational structure can be a little intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Learn the school’s expectations as outlined in the Cadet Handbook so that you have a context in which you can place his experience. l. Finally, stay connected. Follow the school’s social media pages, write letters and emails, send care packages, and make yourself available for phone calls when his schedule allows. Young men need to feel connected to and supported by home while away.
Boarding students return home throughout the year for holidays and spring and summer breaks. This is the time to ask your son about the exciting opportunities he’s taken advantage of and what he plans to do when he returns. Reinforce the progress that you may see – from dinner table etiquette to improved confidence and conversational skills. Any conversations regarding school should be forward looking to when he returns - new challenges, sports, and activities.
Bear in mind that the time he spends at boarding school will be here and gone before you know it. If you have helped him prepare and supported him along the way, he will have had a life changing experience that has prepared him for the next steps in his life; college and beyond.
Missouri Military Academy has been educating young men for over 127 years. We pride ourselves on delivering a 360⁰ Education through character and leadership growth opportunities, academic excellence, and healthy physical development.
If you’d like more information about how Missouri Military Academy can empower your son to unlock his potential, Contact Us today!