The Outdoor School experience is often the student’s first opportunity to spend the night away from home. Homesickness is common; however there are ways to assist your child in dealing with these feelings.
Prior to Outdoor School
- Include your child in the decision to attend Outdoor School and help them prepare for this experience.
- Attend the ODS orientation. Encourage your child to ask questions about the program.
- Discuss expectations for ODS. Encourage your child to talk to others who have been to ODS.
- Focus on the positive including the fun your child will have and the opportunity to make new friends.
- Alert ODS staff prior to your child’s arrival about any concerns you have regarding homesickness , recent family issues such as illness or death in the family or other fears your child may have which may increase the incident of homesickness.
- Discuss calling home or letter writing which may help decrease homesickness.
- Prepare your child for ODS by having them spend the night at a friend’s or relative’s home if they have never been away.
- When packing for ODS, have your child bring along a special stuffed animal, book or other item to remind them of home.
- Encourage your child to bring a journal or art supplies such as colored pencils and a sketch pad to help them to express their feelings.
- Make his/her departure day cheerful. Remain positive while encouraging your child that he/she will be successful at ODS.
What does the ODS staff do to help with homesickness?
- Listen and discuss feelings with the child
- Evaluate for any physical illness
- Pair up the child with a buddy for activities to provide extra support
- Encourage child to succeed and achieve the goal of spending the night away from home.
- Contact parent or guardian if symptoms persist.
- Discuss issue with parent so that they can make an informed decision regarding whether a student will spend the night or become a day student.
- Support the child in the decision made and praise them for their efforts.
Symptoms of Homesickness
- Sadness, anxiety or crying
- Unwillingness to participate in activities
- Trouble sleeping
- Physical symptoms which may include: stomachache, sore throat, headache, nausea, minor aches and pains and flu-like symptoms
- Attention seeking behavior such as deliberately trying to break rules or get into trouble.
- Homesickness usually occurs at times when there is lesser activity and may increase at night