REMEDIES FOR THE HOMESICK BLUES
September 7th, 2022
Every student who attends boarding school goes through periods of missing home. Homesickness can happen at any time; for some, it will set in on the way to school, while for others, it may come up three weeks (or three months) into the school year. Whether the boys admit it or not, it is a challenge that all students must overcome.
It is important to note that it is perfectly natural and expected for students to experience homesickness when they are away from family, friends, and the comforts of their home spaces and routines. Often, the most challenging part about supporting the boys through homesickness is to quell the parental urge to “make it better.” This urge can result in long conversations on the phone, goodies sent in the mail from home, or even an impromptu trip home; however, these attempts to assuage the pain can sometimes exacerbate it. Below are some suggestions on how to help your son when he is homesick.
1. Normalize the Homesickness: When a student calls home, he might think that his homesickness is silly and that he is too old to feel this way. Encourage him to accept that he is homesick, that it is to be expected, and ultimately, that he is not the only one going through it.
2. Get to Know Campus: Some students will fall into a routine: room, class, practice, dining hall, room. Their daily routine will confine them to certain spaces around campus, and sometimes this results in a feeling of isolation or being stuck. Encourage your son to explore the campus and all it has to offer. Have they studied in the Schoolhouse instead of their room? Have they walked any of the trails or visited the pond? Could they utilize the outdoor multi-sport space or take a trip to the town of Kent? By familiarizing themselves with the campus and its natural surroundings, they may feel a little less stuck and a little more comfortable.
3. Self-Care: This may be the first time the students are living on their own. While it may be hard to believe, they may not be eating all their veggies, getting a good night's sleep, or bathing regularly. Remind your son about the importance of sleep for their performance in the classroom and around campus, as well as proper nutrition and hygiene. In addition, ask them about their free time and what they are doing. Are they getting involved around campus? Are they seeking out ways to let off steam and have some fun? Have they participated in a Game Night or gone on any weekend trips? If they are confining themselves to their room and not taking care of themselves, they might naturally feel down. Socializing, sleeping, and eating well can make a big difference in how students feel about being away from home.
4. Ask For Help: While homesickness is something the boys can and will overcome, sometimes they might need a little support as they do so. Refer your son to the resources available on campus to support them during this difficult period. Encourage them to speak to someone they trust, whether that be a coach, teacher, house parent, or advisor. Additionally, the school has a Peer Mentoring program, with student mentors who have been trained to listen, provide support, and recommend resources to help. Ask your son if they would be willing to speak to a Peer Mentor about their homesickness. Finally, the Health Center is a fantastic resource for the students if they want to speak to a professional about how they are feeling and ways they might be able to get support.
Ultimately as parents, you know your sons the best and what they need. If they are experiencing homesickness and you are concerned about it, please feel free to contact your son’s advisor to let them know. Communicating early and often will help the School assemble a team of support to help every student overcome the homesick blues.