Caulfield Grammar School students and parents share their tips for making the move to boarding school in the latest issue of Australian Country Homes
Leaving home to attend boarding school is a big decision for any parent and their child. For Caulfield Grammar School boarding students, the experience has been life changing.
Boarding families recently shared their thoughts around this big decision – the most challenging things about leaving home to attend boarding school, tips they wish they knew when first leaving home, and the best things about boarding life at Caulfield Grammar.
Year 12 Boarding Co-Captain Madi arrived from Victoria’s Mansfield in Year 10 with no connections and no idea what boarding would be like, but definitely made the right decision. “Morcom boarding house is like a second family – you can go to anyone for a talk or advice and you’ll 100% walk away laughing and smiling. One of the best things I am taking away from boarding school is my lifelong friends – people I know I can always go to who will always have my back.”
For Gold Coast parent Lisa, the sense of family and community is what makes boarding at Caulfield Grammar so special. “We love the closeness and inclusiveness of the boarding community. It’s been comforting to know our child has a second family in Melbourne and has made so many close connections with boys and girls.”
Offering boarding from Years 9–12 for more than 90 students, Caulfield Grammar is one of the few schools offering boarding for both girls and boys, meaning that brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews can board at the same school.
Tom from Wagga Wagga started boarding in Year 9. Now the 2023 Boarding House Co-Captain, he says the experiences, as well as the cohort diversity, have provided life lessons and connections he knows will never be lost. “Honestly, I don’t think it’s possible to encapsulate in only a few sentences the lessons, the sense of camaraderie and my love of this place I call home. I came to Caulfield Grammar a happy but narrow-minded kid, and I’ll leave this place more considerate of all walks of life, with many male and female mates and such wonderful memories of time spent with them.”
For Liberty, who moved from home in Japan, immersing in every opportunity has been her approach. “Being in the boarding house gives you opportunities that you wouldn’t get in any other setting. To grow and make the most out of boarding you need to put your hand up and give everything a go – mentoring younger students, helping with House swimming, or participating in the Festival of the Arts. It is a unique setting and I have developed life-long connections.”
Students shared initial concerns about adjusting to new routines, while maybe losing connection with family, friends (and pets!) and struggling to make new friends. Their advice? Be open to talking to every person in the boarding house regardless of year level, get involved in the day school to broaden friendship groups with non-boarders, and make the most of every opportunity.
“Go and play soccer or basketball at night after dinner. If people are cooking, cook with them. If they’re off to the swimming pool or to play golf or even just to study, go with them,” said Austen, who hails from Whorouly (VIC).
Jez (Wangaratta VIC) highlighted the importance of being yourself. “It will be hard at first,” he said, “but honestly, within an hour you will feel you have already built so many relationships. It’s not as scary as you think.”
Naomi (Finley NSW) said that the House competitions were instrumental in helping her build friendships across year levels and with non-boarders. “We’re all very close as boarders and the community spirit and House pride is really strong – every single boarder is willing to have a crack and try any challenge given to them.”
For boarding parents, not having regular communication with their child and worrying about them “falling through the cracks socially and academically” were shared as some of the biggest challenges to overcome. But these were quickly allayed by the strong communication provided by the boarding house team and the closeness and inclusiveness of the boarding community.
“The information and support Caulfield Grammar provided was amazing. We never felt that there was anything we didn’t know. We are thrilled with the strong friendships he has made with kids from all over and the self-confidence he gained through learning how to be more self-reliant and independent,” explains Hay (NSW) parent Andrew.
With its focus on wellbeing and developing the “whole student”, the boarding school experience at Caulfield Grammar appears to have found that right balance – building valuable life skills, confidence, resilience and independence in an inclusive and warm environment.
And a little sense of humour all round helps, as a boarding parent from Finley (NSW) shares: “Have confidence your child will grow up well here. And bring laundry markers!”