Boarding School Care Packages

Send Necessities and Memories of Home

Care package with string
Andy Crawford / Getty Images

When you decide to let your child go to boarding school, there are a few things you can do to help ease his or her transition. Yes, it's true that attending boarding school can be a wonderful academic and social experience for the right kind of student. Boarding schools can offer academic and extracurricular activities that are not available to students in their local public or private day schools, and parents can remain involved in students’ lives through contact with their advisors and frequent visits when permitted.

But homesickness can still be a problem for even the strongest and brightest students who are away at boarding school. While it often passes quickly as students are absorbed into the life of the boarding school, contact from home in the form of phone calls (when allowed), notes, and care packages can help students feel connected to home. Students truly do enjoy receiving care packages from home with some of their favorite snacks, dorm room basics, and study supplies. Here are some tips and ideas. 

Check What the School Allows

Before mailing off your special care package, be sure to check and see what the school allows, and where to send packages. For example, packages may have to be delivered to the dorm proper or in some cases, it needs to be sent to a postal office or a main office; it's often not possible to have something delivered directly to your child’s room. Also, keep in mind that packages may be delayed over the weekend, so only send items that will keep a few days, and mail homemade goodies via priority mail in plastic (possible reusable) containers surrounded with bubble wrap or a recyclable, environmentally friendly material for cushioning. Mail birthday or holiday packages several days in advance to be sure they arrive on time. Some schools offer programs that allow for parents to order goodies through a local shop or even the dining services program on campus. 

Mail the Necessities

First, check what your child needs. He or she may be allowed to make some food in the dorm, so it can be nice to see if your child would like foods like ramen, hot chocolate, or soup. Items such as oatmeal, microwave popcorn, or pretzels make healthier late-night snacks, and it's always a nice idea to be sure to send extra supplies for roommates and friends. However, food storage options may be limited, so get a good idea of how much to send and what can be easily stored. Students may also need school or personal supplies such as pens, notebooks, or shampoos. A child who is feeling under the weather can benefit from an extra set of soft tissues, even if the nurse at school is dispensing the medicine the child needs. Medicine is often not allowed in the dorm, so be sure to keep that at home and out of the care package. Instead, send some crackers, hard candy or a beloved stuffed animal from home.

Mail Memories of Home

Students may also appreciate personal items in their care package that help them keep in touch with their family and friends at home, including hometown or school newspapers, yearbooks, and photos. And don’t forget mementos of pets, too, as a way of warding off homesickness. If there have been any special family events while they are away, be sure to make the children who are away feel included, with details about the menus, presents, or other details associated with these events. If there have been changes at home such as a house renovation or new car, be sure to send photos of these new family events to the child who is away—such visual cues about the family life will help them transition more easily back to life at home and will help them continue to feel included. Home-made videos and news and notes from friends and family members are also warm additions to care packages.

Don’t Forget That Special Something

If all else fails or you're running out of ideas, your student may appreciate a gift card or a few extra bucks in addition to the necessities, and such items are easy to ship, alongside the homemade cookies. And as mature as your child seems, he or she may enjoy a playful toy, possibly something they can share around the dorm, such as a Frisbee for warm afternoons. In every package, be sure to include an encouraging note that lets your child know you are thinking of him or her and awaiting his/her next visit. Though teenagers may not always show it, they need and appreciate the encouragement.

Updated by Stacy Jagodowski