An Open Letter to all the nervous parents about to send their children back to boarding school.

As stationery shops begin to get crowded and school shoes are being polished, in geographically isolated areas across the nation, there’s a different type of preparation happening. Bags are being packed (and certain items being vetoed by parents), much-loved pets are being hugged goodbye and families everywhere are staring down the barrel of endless hours in the car in order to return their child to school. Tension is heightened and you can pretty much cut the nervous energy with a knife. Yes, boarding school is a grand adventure. It teaches independence, allows greater social interaction and provides opportunities not available in rural areas, yet, despite all its goodness, it can still be bittersweet. To parents who are preparing to send their child back to boarding school – this one’s for you xox.

Dear Nervous Parent,

I haven’t been in your shoes before. I haven’t agonised over this school or that, I haven’t had to save my pennies so that I could offer my child a quality education and I haven’t had to leave my child in the care of someone else for the majority of their teenage years. 

While I may not have had to physically make the decision to send my child to boarding school, nor was I a boarder myself, I’ve had a glimpse into your life. I’ve sat around tables as families have made schooling decisions, I’ve comforted the homesick Year 7 student who has arrived to class crying, I’ve been a ‘house mother’ to many and I’ve driven through paddocks filled with cows affectionately known as ‘the boarding school cows’ – the stock that will be sold to manage the cost of boarding school fees.

This letter has two aims: to sing your praises and to reassure you.

Firstly, you are the unsung hero. I understand the weight of your decisions. Yet, it is unfathomable the choices and sacrifices you have to make. The kilometer’s travelled, the hours spent calming your anxious child through the phone and the occasional tear you shed when you walk past empty bedrooms during the school term. 

With this in mind, I want to reassure you – we care. When there’s tears, when there’s sadness, we feel it too. Our heart breaks for the children who are so far from home, but it also swells with pride. Their resilience, their courage and their tenacity is not easily emanated. They are independent, they are adaptable, and they are full of common sense. They bring life to a school community and set our school apart from others. We are proud of them and we know you are too. 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for putting your child into our care, for trusting us and believing that we are able to have a positive influence on your child’s life. 

From, A Staff Member in a Boarding House

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