Written by V Saravana Kumar and published on 02 June 2021.
Are you planning to send your child to a hostel? Are you also worried that your child may find it difficult to adjust to the new environment? Don't worry. Here's all you need to know about hostel life.
When Nilesh Sharma completed Class 7, his parents wanted to send him to a hostel. They believed that exposure to life experiences at a residential school would make their son a better person. At first, Nilesh was shocked. He didn't want to leave his parents and his home. But after much discussion, he understood his parents' reasoning and accepted their decision. Being a Harry Potter fan helped too! He wanted to experience the kind of excitement the boy wizard enjoyed at Hogwarts.
"It is quite natural that children are startled when their parents first tell them they want to send them to the hostel. This is purely due to separation anxiety," says Sathya Suresh, a child psychologist from Bangalore. "But, as a psychologist, I feel the experience could help children in the long run. Studying in a boarding school has a whole lot of benefits. It plays a major role in shaping a child's personality and character, in addition to making him a strong and confident individual," she adds.
Apart from offering a holistic learning opportunity to children, hostels also provide solutions to practical parenting problems faced by today's nuclear families. Shanti Krishnamurthy, Principal of Chinmaya International Residential School, Coimbatore, says, "Today, both parents work and are unable to spend time with their children. In a good number of homes, children are taken care of by chaperones. So, it is difficult to ensure that children imbibe values as they grow up. Many parents are not even aware of the strengths of their children because they are investing in education and not in the child. This is where hostels help—they prepare children for life and not for exams or grades."But, in spite of all this, is it easy for parents to send their child to a hostel? "Absolutely not," says Shiva Kumar, a professional photographer from Chennai. "When I wanted to send my son to a boarding school in Ooty, he initially resisted. He just couldn't accept the fact that he will be staying away from home. However, he subsequently gave in and I enrolled him in the school. Now he thanks me for making that decision. I can see a huge positive transformation in my son's attitude and character. He has certainly grown into an extremely confident young man over these two years." Kumar says.
The diverse learning opportunities available in a hostel are something a normal day school can hardly match. A student gets a chance to live along with his friends as a community, to learn by exploring, to become accepting of others, and to overcome challenges.
With the number of affordable residential institutions growing across the country, you have a wide number of residential schools to choose from.
1. Learning to be responsible and independent
Children passing out from boarding schools tend to be responsible and independent. Living away from indulgent or overprotective parents, children learn to become self-reliant. They are required to take responsibility for their belongings, their time, and their choices.
2. Building confidence
Most hostels offer children multiple learning opportunities, be it in academics or extra-curricular activities. The opportunities give children a wide exposure to rich learning experiences that build confidence and abilities.
3. Adapting to routines
Life in a boarding school is very structured and regimented. There are fixed times for school, homework, meals, extracurricular activities, entertainment, and free time. Constant supervision ensures that children are gainfully engaged, leaving almost no time for distractions.
4. Supported learning
Supervised study hours ensure that children stay focused on academics and devote regular time to their studies. Children receive the additional help they need, not just from the resident teachers but also from their peers and seniors.
6. Staying fit
Sports and fitness regimens are often made compulsory for children. This can do wonders for their physical and mental health. Children learn about success and defeat, cooperation and competition, and build team spirit.
7. Learning life-skills
The experience of living in a community teaches children valuable life skills such as the ability to adapt, adjust, lead, help others, be supportive and cooperative, care for each other, build strong bonds of friendship and be tolerant.
8. Learning to self-manage
Boarding schools are known to instill a sense of discipline in children. Children are encouraged to adhere to the established code of conduct.
9. Preparing to step out
A boarding school is a dynamic ecosystem where children learn to function at optimal levels. Making small and big decisions, learning from mistakes, and dealing with challenges are all part of boarding life. The environment represents in many ways, the larger community that children will ultimately move into, well prepared and well-groomed.
1. Talk things out
Leaving the comforts and security of the home is a major step in your child's life and it needs sufficient preparation. It is always good to begin with a healthy conversation with your child—first to let her express all her feelings and apprehensions about leaving home. Show empathy by validating all her feelings. Be honest about the reasons you have for sending your child to boarding school. Often there are circumstances beyond your control. After your child's emotions have settled you may talk about the likely benefits she can gain from boarding life.
2. Choose the right reason
Consider boarding life to be an enhancement for your child, not a punishment. Parents often threaten to send the child to a boarding school, believing that the fear will make their child behave or study better. And, mind you, such children will never be able to gain the benefits of living in a boarding school.
3. Make a good choice
Do your research well. Choosing the right boarding school is the most vital step in this process. There's no harm in spending many days weighing the pros and cons of different schools before choosing the one most likely to meet your expectations—the quality of academic experiences, the staff members and house parents, their approach and attitude towards children, and the school's value system. Well-managed and well-equipped boarding schools offer a good infrastructure. Be it the library or laboratory, sports field, and playgrounds, they strive to offer the best in terms of quality.
4. Listen to your child
Get references from relatives or friends whose children are in a boarding school. Have your child talk to their children to get a first-hand account of the ups and downs of boarding life. Have many conversations with your child. Listen well and tune into his feelings. Also, telling your child about some prominent personalities who were products of boarding schools is a great way to boost his morale.
5. Set routines at home
Once your child is convinced, move on to preparing her to follow routines like waking up early in the morning, keeping her room clean, and following a schedule every day. This will help her adapt more easily to the school's requirements.
6. Visit the school
Once you pick a school, take a tour of the campus along with your child to check the facilities he's going to have during his stay, the people he will live with. Let him personally examine all amenities that the school has to offer. That will make him more enthusiastic and excited about joining the school.
7. Interact with school staff
The most important attribute of a boarding school is the people and their real concern for the welfare of the children. You must feel a sense of trust in the school because you are going to entrust your child to their care.
8. Pack your child's favorite things
When moving to school, let your child take her favorite toys, pillows, family photos, etc., with her. These precious little things play a huge role in comforting your child and driving away homesickness.
9. Reassure your child
It's very important that your child develops confidence and courage to take this transition head-on. Motivate him with the assurance that the family is there to support him at all times. Also, make sure you keep in touch with your child through communication channels approved by the school.
The first time you return home from dropping your child in the hostel don't be surprised at the mixed feelings that may overwhelm you. You may miss your child a lot, doubt your decision, feel guilty or confused, sad or lonely. The separation may be as hard for you, as for your child. Talk to your spouse and friends, give vent to your feelings and in time you will adjust to the change, and bounce back.
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