How to bond with kids in boarding school

Catherine  Ruhweza

I was raised in a boarding school.  Both my primary and most of my secondary school was in boarding school. Looking back now, that was the in thing in the 80s  when growing up.   I still remember how much I cried when my mum dropped me off  at boarding school in primary one. I just wanted to be home. I wanted to enjoy the niece things at home , the good meals ,  and  not  the   perennial  diet of posho and beans that most boarding schools offered. But  good  food is not the only thing that children in boarding school  miss out 

  They also  miss  out on bonding opportunities with their parents. Parents should seek ways of building and strengthening relationships with children who study away from home.

When you keep this close relationship you will know when your child is encountering a developmental challenge,emotional challenge and when to best interven. Also illicit behaviour like alcohol,drugs,sexual addiction can all be detected and harnessed with in time if parent deliberately cultivated a naturing relationship with the children in boarding school.

So how do you build your relationship and stay close to your children when they are away in boarding school?

1. Keep communication lines open: Some parents forget about their children the moment they pack them and send them off to school, only to pick them again at end of term. Your children will feel rejected if you do this. And in order to over come their rejection, they may turn to other obsessive or unbecoming behavior. And this can happen latter in life. So make sure you keep the communication lines open. Make a call at least twice in a week; write letters send emails, whatever you can do to keep in touch with your child do it .This will help keep the emotional connection and the commitment to the values you have taught them.

2. Attend parent’s days: In most cases the events days school dates are known in advance. Make sure you note them in your diary and schedule yourself to attend. No matter how demanding things at work may be  ask for permission before  hand. Incase you work over the weekend arrange for a stand in for that day so that you can be at your child’s school. Attending your child’s school days is one way of telling them that they are important to you. But it also provides opportunity to develop a relationship, talk to your child about anything and to laugh together. Some parents cannot have meaningful conversations with their children about anything. This is very unfortunate. Visiting your child at school also helps you to interact with the people they interact with on a daily basis. You get to know their friends and their teachers. You are also able to pick some information that is never told to you, intervene in a negative behavior pattern on time. All this helps to develop your child and develop their character. 

3. Plan to take leave at least once in a year when your children are on holidays. This is very critical and it is doable.  Being home with your children during leave when you are not in a hurry to go anywhere makes you get to know your children better. You get to know how they are growing and developing. Because of years of programming some parents can’t handle being at home, they may feel awkward waking up and staying home, the children may also not be used to this but they will soon get used to it, look forward it and also learn to enjoy your presence.  As a parent you can you can deprogram your minds and make accommodation for your children, they are the most important responsibility you have on this earth. Spending time with your children in meaninful activities makes children happier and more able to trust their parents.

4. Make their birthdays and any other success ventures a celebration point for all members in the family. This does not mean that you splash what you do not have but however small a cake you may have, make sure you show your children that what is important to them is very import to you too. Inject the same enthusiasm in their siblings so that the whole family gives importance to whoever is celebrating their birthday. This enforces family unity and togetherness not matter where family members may go, they will feel they are part of a family that loves and treasures them. 

5. Talk to the teachers: Take it as a priority to meet your child's class teacher and even to have their phone number. Teachers hold key information about our children's academic progress and behaviour at school. Ask 2-3 teachers for an honest opinion about your child in regards to obeying school rules, homework, respect for teachers, and relationship with friends. If you honestly desire feedback as far as it concerns your child, teachers will be able to give it to you. Have a discussion with your child about the feedback you have got. Get to know their opinion and where reform is needed discuss together the way forward.

6. Meet their friends: Take it as important to know who your child's friends are and where possible get to know who their parents are. Friends define our common interests. Ones friends tell us part of who they are. Knowing your child's friends, they tell you something you may not know about your child. It is true that bad company ruins good character but good company builds good character. Intervening in wrong relations on time may define your child's failure or success not only in school but in life.