Distance education, and distance parenting

Host: Southampton
Written by Kylie Savidge – Owner, Southampton Station.

As you all know from my previous blogs, my eldest son, Jack, has been away at boarding school the last four years. This year it was Ben’s turn to go to boarding school. I have always worried about how my children will fare without me and I hope that I have done a decent enough job at home so that when they do go away the wrench is not too bad.

728 copyThe car loaded, heading to boarding school.

Ben has gone away a year earlier than Jack did as high school now starts in Year 7. This also means he is a year younger and has had one year less at home. I am very proud to say that Ben has done very well with only a few bouts of homesickness that we have managed through. Being over five hours away from home is hard on both parent and child. I can’t just jump in the car and pop down to school and comfort them or sort out any medical or other needs that might arise. There are plenty of texts, emails, snapchats (very modern aren’t I!?), and phone calls to help with all those times Mum is not there.

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741 copyBen’s first day of boarding school.

Meg has missed her “little big brother”, as she calls him, calling Jack her “biggest brother”.  Seeing as Jack is 6’1 and Ben is 5’11, I am not sure how long those titles will stand. For the first month of Term 1, Meg was at a loss as to what to do with herself. There was no one to torment her, no one for her to torment, no one to walk to school with, and no one to be her partner in her adventures in the bush. She has become my shadow.

Ben has thrown himself into boarding life firstly and school life secondly, enjoying the roughhousing and camaraderie of 20 plus boys his own age. Having his older brother there to call on if needed has been a huge relief to me and their father as much as it has for Ben.

Soccer, futsal (indoor soccer), tennis, and basketball have taken his interest keenly in the sporting areas and whilst he hopes to play rugby union as well one day we have said no for the minute due to his braces and the expenses they bring when brackets break and wires snap!

The plus side for us as parents is the help that Ben receives through an excellent LSU (Learning Support Unit), the dedication of staff that genuinely wants to help Ben and the fact they keep open communication with all who are involved with Ben’s educational journey. We are always in the loop with what is going on, good and bad which helps us understand where Ben is at.

I have one more year of Meghan with me at home for year 6 and then she too, will be off to boarding school and that is where I think I will really struggle. Jack graduates next year, so he will be off doing his own thing and seeing the world. And what a world he will get to see, all our previous backpackers have plans for Jack to come and visit them and share in part of their world like they have shared ours. In time, both Ben and Meg will get to share in this and hopefully one day TJ and I will get to see some of that world too.

185 copyThe boys and Meg all ready to head back to their respective schools.

One thing my children have been told repetitively is that they will always have somewhere to come home to, always.