Homesickness: Tips for Parents and Students

Each fall, we welcome a new group of boarding students to the Indian Mountain community. With this exciting transition and opportunity comes the potential for homesickness. It is a very normal response to rapid periods of change and there are ways to manage it. We spoke to a group of our students and faculty that attended boarding schools and asked what helped them through these periods.

Advice for Students

1. You’re not alone.
Homesickness can make you feel disconnected and isolated, but in reality, many students go through it to some extent. Realizing that you are not the only one can help lessen that feeling of isolation. At the end of the day, remember that this will pass!

2. Get involved.
It is important to get involved in the community around you by doing the things you love to do. Out of all of the students we spoke to, each one highlighted the extent to which getting busy helped them with their transition at IMS. Do you like playing soccer? Grab a few of your dorm mates and go play!

3. Connect.
The common areas of the dormitories are a place of nearly constant activity. All of the students that we spoke to encouraged new students to seek out these spaces, especially during the first couple weeks. These spaces help you engage, connect, and ultimately work through this transitional period with greater ease.

Advice for Parents

1. You’re not alone. It is important to remember that you are not alone and that many parents and families have gone through this transitional period. Our Counseling Department is always there to help both you and your child work through it! Do not hesitate to reach out to them with questions.

2. Keep communication brief at first.
It can be tempting to ask lots of questions about your son or daughter’s experience over the first couple of weeks, but it is important to keep these initial calls brief and less frequent, especially if they are homesick. Several students noted that lengthy calls home often did the opposite of help and pulled them away from being able to connect with their dorm mates.

3. Focus on the positives.
When you do connect with your son or daughter, remember to focus on the positives of their experience. While it can be tempting to talk directly about their homesickness, focus instead on their day and things they have done and highlight any positive experiences they have mentioned.
In the words of 7th grade boarding student, Gerald Bellamy, “You just have to jump over that bridge and just do it. Your friends and teachers will help you and everything will just be okay!”