Stages of Boarding School Life
Initially, all students experience a variety of emotions as they acclimate to their new learning environment. The transition can be exciting, scary, and confusing all at the same time. Patience is required as the adjustment cycles are predictable, normal, and healthy for all students. Although all students are different, the phases are typical as follows.
Phase 1: Interesting! What an adventure. Wasatch Academy is awesome! Students arriving are excited about their new school, a new schedule, new classes, new teachers, new dorm, a roommate, making new friends, and trying new activities, foods, and experiencing a new culture.
What parents can do: Inspire your student to do well in classes, seek out adults, and get involved in the activities the school provides.
Phase 2: Repetition! The routine of classes, tutorials, assemblies, Homeroom, “H” block, convocation, study hall, residential life curriculum, and signing up for weekend recreation begins to set in. Everything is becoming more familiar. The reality of studying and school work has begun.
What parents can do: Instill a belief in your student’s ability to advocate for themselves. Let your student know you know they can do this! Praise their efforts to try new things, make new friends, and succeed in new classes. Encourage your student to seek out adults, especially their advisor and dorm parent, for help with anything.
Phase 3: “I’m more comfortable at home.” Homesickness sets in as your student realize things are different from home. Foods taste different and people act different – the student is experiencing culture shock. They will likely call parents more often, especially with requests to come home.
What parents can do: Praise your student for trying to adjust to this new experience. Reassure your student that they will benefit from this experience and the growth of overcoming something difficult. If you haven’t already, finalize plans (if possible) for Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. Also, encourage your student to seek out a trusted adult for help and to get involved with campus activities.
Phase 4: Belonging! Students get comfortable, make friends and understand their teacher’s expectations. They know where to go for help and are comfortable sharing their thoughts, beliefs, home culture, and attitudes about life. They also develop a greater empathy for the cultures and needs of other students.
What parents can do: Assure your student you’re proud of their efforts to succeed at Wasatch Academy. Continual praise in areas your student has made progress is important. Encourage your student to reflect on their growth since their arrival.
Phase 5: “Wasatch Academy is my school!” Students accept that every day is an opportunity for growth and they will try to do their best. They have achieved in the classroom and outside of school, have created a second home in their dorm, and built strong relationships. They have greater confidence in their abilities to navigate life at Wasatch Academy and are excited to welcome new or potential students and share their experiences. In short, they are very proud of their personal growth.
What parents can do: Praise, praise, praise.
As always, please encourage your student to visit with their dorm parent or advisor if they are experiencing any difficulties during their transition to Wasatch Academy.