A lot of parents of first-time boarders find themselves asking, “How do I help my child make friends at boarding school?” This is a more common concern than many think. Going away for school can be scary. There are many unknowns: Who will I be friends with? How will I cope with all the work? Where am I going to sit at lunch?
Whether your child is about to head out for the first time, or they are already away at school, there are some key suggestions you can make as a parent to make the transition process easier.
Remember: People Are Generally Kind
Oftentimes the worry or concern is far worse than the reality. Your child might be anticipating the cliquey crowd or the bullies they so often read about and see in movies. Most of the time, this isn’t how things really are.
Make sure your child is going in with an open mind. Boarding school is an excellent opportunity to make new friends from all different sorts of backgrounds. Being open to meeting new people will help in the first few months of school during the adjustment period.
Find Common Interests
Meeting new people is a great way to branch out, but having your child look toward their interests and hobbies can be a good starting point for meeting like-minded people. Encourage your new boarder to think about:
- Sports teams
- Areas of study
- Video games
All of these things attract people with all sorts of interests. The chance of your child finding someone who they’ll get along with are pretty good.
This might sound like more of an office policy than a piece of advice for making friends at boarding school, but this one counts.
There may not be a better place to make friends at boarding school than in the dorm room. Having your child keep their door open will help welcome visitors and potential new friends. Not only that, but actively inviting their peers to hang out will be of major benefit to their social life.
Make sure that your child has this mentality. They may not be liked or loved by everyone, but they should do their best to be open and caring with all those they interact with. It’s a fact of life that sometimes two people just won’t get along, but making an effort to be nice is the biggest asset one can have when entering a new social environment.
Making new friends at boarding school isn’t easy for anyone; your child should keep that in mind. Everyone is in the same boat. The process will eventually get easier and before too long they’ll have a friend group of their own, at which point they can help welcome new students to the school.