21st Century parents have set a trend of sending their children to boarding schools right at the beginning of their junior secondary school education. Some start at senior secondary school and actually, parents do this for several reasons. For some parents, it’s because they do not have enough time for their children or because they think it would help them gain the right exposure or even because they see other parents doing it.
The advantage of studying in a boarding school environment is that your child gets to experience another life of self-dependence and exposure, one where they have to fend for themselves (though not entirely). A boarding school is a place where children would strive to uphold the morals and principles they have learnt from home.
The child would have to determine to do the right things at the right time. Such as studying, chores or avoiding bad company. All in all, boarding school life is a wonderful experience every child would enjoy. My goal in this article is to share tips on how to make preparations for your child’s boarding school life.
Now, let us start with the basics.
What materials or items would be needed for boarding school?
Most boarding schools have a list of materials or items which they expect each student to come with on resumption and this is usually contained in the school prospectus. This prospectus contains an official list of things needed, what the school allows, contraband items, rules and regulations guiding the boarding students, a list of their daily itinerary and so on.
A few of the required items for boarding school in Nigeria usually include:
1. A padlock and a cupboard
It is well known that in a boarding school, students from different walks of life with different beliefs, values and principles are all present. And so in most boarding schools, there is usually a high rate of theft. Some children are not well taught the value of contentment and so some of them resort to stealing.
In order to prevent your child from being a victim of theft in boarding school, you need to get him/her a personal cupboard and a very strong padlock. All valuables like toiletries, provisions and so on would be carefully kept in the cupboard and secured with a very strong padlock. That way, even if they want to, the thieves would not be able to gain access to your child’s valuables.
2. Clothes and hangers
Of course, you know that your child or ward will need some clothes to put on but note that I’m not talking about the regular clothes he puts on at home. Most Nigerian boarding schools have uniform house wear that every boarding student is supposed to put on. It is usually a checkered material for most boarding schools though the colour differs. You would have to find out what kind of material is used by the school your child or ward is to be enrolled in.
Also, you should get ready with all school wears, a cardigan for seasons of cold weather, underwear, socks, church wear for missionary schools, sportswear and other clothing wears. You would also need to get clothing hangers that would be used to hang the clothes in the wardrobe that would be allocated to your ward.
For most boarding schools in Nigeria, your child would be provided with bed space, but you would need to get a mattress (you have to contact the school on the size of mattress you’re expected to bring or confirm in the school prospectus), a pillow, bed sheets, pillowcases, blankets and cover clothes. You should make sure to purchase more than one set of each so it can be easily interchanged.
Also, know that it is advisable to get materials with a soft texture that would be easy to wash and dark colours that don’t easily attract dirt.
3. Toiletries or laundry Items
When packing, it is easy to leave out or forget the seemingly little things. But note that toiletries should be a priority to you if not to your child. You need to get ready all the essential items like toothbrush, toothpaste, bathing soap, sponge, soap case, body cream, hair shampoo and other hair products for a female child.
Make sure not to forget to get an absorbing towel (maybe two) and also the laundry items like detergent, cloth pegs, a bleach for white clothes and a laundry bag to store the dirty clothes.
4. School and stationery supplies
Now that you would not be there every morning to give your child a daily or weekly supply of school stationery, you should give a pack up supplies that would last them for the whole term. Don’t forget to get a school bag, lunch bag, water bottle, food flask, cutlery set and then stationaries like pens, pencils, notebooks, erasers, mathematical set, drawing book, required textbooks and so on.
5. Housing supply and personal items
You shouldn’t forget to make available the necessary items your child would normally make use of at home. Examples include a shoe brush and polish, lamps, mosquito net, their favourite bedtime story book, teddy bear and so on. These items would make the child feel more at home and comfortable.
6. Provision of supplies and allowance
It is actually necessary to get beverages and cereal for your child to complement his/her meal in school. Though some schools don’t allow this but if your child’s school does allow them to bring in provisions, then get a reasonable supply. In case your child doesn’t like the meal served, there would be an alternative.
Below is typical list of provisions for a boarding school in Nigeria:
- Powdered milk (1-2 cans)
- Beverage (Milo, Bournvita, etc)
- Margarine or butter (Note that butter might melt into liquid if not kept in a fridge. This is why margarine is a popular choice)
- Biscuits (Cabin, etc)
- Garri (about 4 Kongos or more)
- Granulated sugar or a box of sugar cubes
Pocket money is also very important for your child’s comfort plus they might need to get a few things urgently and calling you all the time might be a hassle. But it is advisable to give your child’s allowance to the housemaster or mistress so as to monitor their spending.
Other essential tips to take note of when preparing to send your child to the boarding school
1. It is very important to intimate your child about the soon-to-come changes in the environment about a few weeks or months earlier so that they begin to prepare emotionally and psychologically for the change. Let them know in detail what boarding school life entails. But I would advise, before making plans to send your child off to a boarding school, to seek their consent so it doesn’t seem like you’re imposing your will on them.
2. Particularly for parents with a female child especially one who is yet to fully undergo puberty. Make sure to enlighten them on key issues like the menstrual cycle, hormonal and body changes they would go through and how to take care of such situations. In short, give them proper sex education so they don’t learn about these things from the wrong source and be influenced negatively.
3. For first-timers and young children, regular calls and visits are quite essential so the children don’t feel abandoned and dejected. Children would need the presence and attention of their parents and relate their new experiences. Hence the reason for periodic visits put in by schools. More importantly, regular visits help parents to notice on time any strange traits in the child and correct them in order to prevent an unhealthy behavioural pattern in the child. Therefore, parents have to be really sensitive in times like this.
4. For parents with children that have allergies or health issues such as asthma, rheumatism, occasional bouts of seizures and ‘SS’ genotypes, it is advisable to keep your children under your wing as no one would treat them the way you would. However, if you still decide on a boarding school experience for your child, then ensure you take note of the following:
- Intimate the boarding school director about your child’s condition. Let the school know your child and your child’s condition.
- Enlighten them on the preventive and curative measures of the illness so they know how to deal with it when it occurs.
- You can ask for a special schedule for visiting your child in order to give him or her a regular check-up and ensure that there’s no problem.
- Let the child know his or her dos and don’ts.
- Develop a special and friendly relationship with the Matron of the hostel and the school nurse so that they can always look out for your child in case of any signs of breakdown.
- Provide your child with whatever he or she will need to maintain a healthy life throughout the school term.
With these preparation tips for boarding school in Nigeria, I’m sure you and your child will have little or no hassle during his or her boarding school experience in Nigeria. I hope this article proved to be helpful and you learnt one thing or the other.
I wish your child a blissful boarding school experience!
You might also be interested in reading Boarding vs Day School in Nigeria.