Quick Tips for First-time Boarding School Parents

Stories, know-how, and guidance from the experts in educating boys.

Quick Tips for First-time Boarding School Parents
Jess Egan

Quick Tips for First-time Boarding School Parents

Trust.  According to our very own New Englander, Noah Webster, the meaning of trust:

“Confidence; a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship or other sound principle of another person.” Trust is truly the foundation on which you rely once you say goodbye to your son and walk out of the dormitory, into your vehicle, and drive away. You’ve been told to trust the process, the people, the community—but truly what is it that you need to know to make the boarding experience positively life-changing? I reached out to alumni, parents, and insiders at Avon Old Farms, the top New England boarding school for boys, for their sage advice regarding what it's like to board away from home. Rest assured, their quick tips will infuse some peace of mind while leaving your son/s in the care of experienced and trusted pros.

Here's some solid advice for you to give your son's as they prepare to embark on their journey as a boarder:

1. Support the teams, actors, artists, musicians, and celebrate each other's accomplishments.

A snippet and perhaps one of the most pertinent pieces of advice from our own Kevin Driscoll '72: Support each other, challenge each other, get to know your brothers, ask questions, LISTEN, be curious. It is then you begin creating the bond that defines a boarding school culture—at Avon Old Farms, the CT private school, it's the true meaning of the Brotherhood.

“Being a part of the Brotherhood is incomparable—it means that you are a part of something greater than yourself. You become part of a lifelong family, composed of men who hail from different walks of this earth, different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and different life experiences.” Mickoy Nichol '14

2. Encourage your son to take advantage of the opportunities given.

Talk it out with your son about his thoughts and fears. It may serve him well to get out of his comfort zone and try something completely new.

“There is truly a place for everyone at Avon Old Farms, the key is to have the willingness to take advantage of all the opportunities Avon has to offer, try a new sport, join a club, go to enrichment, spend time with your friends at Nimrod cabin around the fire, swim in the pond, enjoy the whole experience.” Luke Archambault '04


3. Keep the air flowing!

Yes, as part of the Avon Safe program, the school is revamping the airflow in classrooms and dormitories by installing new filtration systems. However, your son may still want to bring a fan for the dormitory. Not just any fan, not a fancy fan, but the 20-inch Lasko box fan! According to one of Avon’s own, Matt Kowalchick '99, “it is as though it was designed specifically for the quadrangle!” 

4. Think cozy.

A full list of suggested items to pack is provided on the parent back to school hub. That said, outfit your son with some basic dorm room staples to make him feel cozy and organized. Bring your own pillow, a mattress pad, extra pair of sheets, extra towels, a pair of flip flops to walk to and from your shower while also carrying a shower caddy, trust us, a shower caddy is very handy! 

5. Saddle them up with snacks!

Snacks, snacks, and more snacks! The thought of encountering a hungry 18-year-old manchild on his way to economics is simply terrifying! Granola bars, protein bars, healthy bites to keep your son’s hunger at bay until the refectory opens for a delicious meal from Hector and his talented team. 

Key Takeaway

“Know that your sons are in great hands, the community is filled with great individuals who genuinely care about your son's success, not just in the classrooms, or on the athletic fields, but holistically.” Mickoy Nichol '14. At the end of the day, your trust in the boarding school's expertise is crucial. At Avon Old Farms, we successfully meet boys where they are at, providing them with relational, experiential, active, and lifelong learning (R.E.A.L. Learning) as well as training them with health, wellness, and leadership skills in our Prep4ward program. Thousands of boys and parents have walked through the magical arches of Theodate’s village. We are here for you, ...available to you, and want to hear from you.

About the Author

Jessica Egan


Advancement Officer - Parent Giving