Boarding Dragons
School House
baking club
make delicious
we are in the throes of deciding
what is best for him.
What concerned you
before your child became a
That he would miss
us! And I him, of course. We had
to deal with some thoughtless
comments and if people said: “I
would never send my child away”,
it required self-restraint not to
Whether it would really suit
Henry – he wasn’t very outgoing or
sporty. But thankfully he settled in
straight away. He’s achieved a great
deal in five years and made lots of
That he would not
cope – and that it would change
the balance of relationships within the family. Some friends were
totally disapproving which created guilt.
Trying to make the right decision for my children – but also
I did worry about care, food, whether they would brush their teeth
properly. Ultimately you have to trust the school.
The decision was a hard one. I had the normal wor-
ries about him not settling down or losing his confidence – also
whether he would ever survive an English winter.
What was it like for you at first?
I missed Charlie terribly, even with two other boys
still at home. I couldn’t wait to call, I wrote a postcard every day. I
couldn’t visit at first but my parents did, and said he was fine but a
bit homesick.
It was actually when the youngest started that it became
harder for me. The structure of my day disappeared and I missed
picking her up after school. But I organized my diary so that there
was quite a lot going on and found that sharing experiences with
other mothers helped considerably.
My son was fine, but I wish I had faced my emotions in
the months running up to his boarding. I kept busy and after a few
weeks routine was established and our family never looked back.
It was not easy at first – we were on a different continent
and I didn’t know any boarding parents locally. But boarding par-
ent friends in Suffolk were incredibly helpful; it is really important to
know other mothers who can understand how you might be feel-
D R A G O N S T O D A Y . S U M M E R 2 0 1 2
Wilson’s visit
Lords Cricket
Grounds and
watch England
play the West
Water fun in
inflatable pool
for Cherwell
Jubilee cel-
with ‘Pimms’
and matron’s
ing. I focussed on preparing the children and would say it is a good
approach to make plans to be occupied yourself for the first week.
At drop off Tom was excited, we hardly got a goodbye
there was so much going on. It helped us that we were both there.
The first few weeks were hard and I had the phone glued to my
ear although we did try to leave it to him to make contact. We have
always been well informed by his House Parents but Tom often tells
me he is “just too busy Mummy” in cheery, if hurried, calls with lots of
news. He is happy and that has made it so much easier.
What should other mothers know?
Expect some homesickness, especially at first. Make it
clear nothing is irreversible - I always told them they had a choice but
so far they have all continued to board although they could techni-
cally be day boys now.
I have had no regrets about my children boarding, they have
so much fun and I haven’t had the stress of getting them to school on
time with all the right kit. When they are home we all have a fun time.
Every child is different. My daughters never felt homesick
but both boys found going back to school difficult at first. This did not
last – by Christmas of his first year my youngest said the Dragon was
the best place in the world.
The first term is rather a test of nerve! I found it important to
remain confident in the reasons I had for choosing boarding in the
first place. And that boarding mothers need contact with other board-
ing mothers.
Your thoughts for parents considering boarding?
Don’t be afraid of it. If you have good reasons and think it
would suit your child then don’t be put off by people who are poorly
informed or in a different situation from you. We have higher quality
family time; holidays are very relaxed and we probably all have better
day-to-day relationships. We are still close as a family and in contact
with each other every day.
Go for it – your child will have grown up a great deal
between the time you choose the school and when they arrive to start
in Year 4.
As a family we have all come to appreciate each other more
and we all look forward to the holidays – although I sometimes feel
the children do miss school!
Go with your gut feel, a positive attitude and enormous
enthusiasm - even if at times you have to bluff your way through it –
and a degree of spoiling will ensure a smooth start and ultimately a
happy boarder
For more mums’ experiences of boarding please see
If you are a Mum considering
boarding and would like to
speak to a current boarding
mother, please contact
1,2,3,4,5,6 8,9,10,11,12