Preparing For Boarding School

Each year, all of us at Greenwood are continually amazed at the courage and resilience our boys demonstrate as they leave their homes and venture out into the unfamiliar world of boarding school.  Year after year, with the support and guidance from their parents and everyone at school, Greenwood boys increase their skills, discover talents they never knew they had, and emerge from the experience as independent, resourceful, confident young men.Reading in the Dorm

By offering the following advice, it is our goal to take an active role in making the transition into the Greenwood community a positive experience for all.  The Greenwood Experience is most enjoyable and successful when both parents and students are thoroughly prepared for the upcoming transition.

This advice was compiled from our 35 years of experience of helping families adjust to changes as they become a part of the larger Greenwood family.  Current and past Greenwood parents and students were also surveyed, and their valuable insights are also included below.

  • One important component in preparing for the upcoming transition is to ensure your son knows why he will be attending Greenwood.  Review the decision making process with him, set goals, and clearly communicate the benefits and opportunities Greenwood will afford him.  Make a list of “pros” and “cons,” and devise strategies that address your son’s “con” concerns.  It is also wise to share your son’s concerns with the school, so we can take a proactive approach whenever possible.
  • Create a calendar with your son.  This calendar should highlight dates when you will be together (i.e. weekend visits, vacation, etc.).  This will ensure that your son always knows how many days remain until he will next see you.  Also include any exciting school functions, etc.
  • Be clear with your son that enrolling at Greenwood is a minimum of a one-year Moving Into the Dormcommitment.  It has been our experience that if students feel that their time at Greenwood is on a trial basis, more often than not they will never fully commit to being a part of our community.
  • Explain that there will likely be difficult times and create a proactive plan with your son detailing what he should do if he is having difficulty.  One important thing that your son should understand is the necessity of communicating with an adult at Greenwood if he is having difficulty.
  • Over the years we have witnessed strange phenomena during phone calling time, particularly at the start of the year.  It is sometimes the case that a boy will be laughing, joking, and smiling as he dials the phone.  Unfortunately, when mom or dad answers, suddenly everything is awful and the school is terrible.  If this happens, the most effective strategy is to speak with your son’s advisor before his calling time so you know the highs and lows of his week.  If your son begins to complain, shift the focus and speak about the positives of the week.  Please do follow up with an adult at Greenwood if your son has a negative phone call.
  • Thoroughly review the Greenwood’s Student & Parent Handbook with your son so he enters with a basic understanding of our expectations and policies.  We will also directly and explicitly teach our policies, systems, and expectations to all of the boys.
  • Communicate with your son’s advisor and make your expectations for communication clear.  We will provide weekly updates… but do you also want to routinely speak with the tutor once a week or every other week?   We also hope you will communicate with us if you have a question or a concern.  Open and honest communication is a key component of working together in partnership for what is in your son’s best interest.
  • DormCommunicate with other Greenwood parents.  New and returning parents are a great resource who can also offer valuable support and encouragement.  In addition to publishing parent contact information in our back to school materials, there will be functions throughout the year with the express purpose of everyone spending time together and getting to know one another.  All parents are a vital part of the supportive community that is Greenwood.
  • Students receive mail every afternoon, and nothing makes Greenwood boys happier than receiving a letter, e-mail, or care package from home.  Never underestimate the importance of regular communication from home.  Note: when sending care packages, please be careful not to send your son “contraband” (please see Parent and Student Handbook), and if sending food, please ensure there is enough to distribute to 50 boys. . . we will make sure that all the boys know the source of the treats, and your son will be the “hero of the day.”