The First Moments
- I feel like I am giving up my role as parent.
- What should I expect when my child first arrives?
- I feel like I’m losing contact with my child, what can I do?
- What about when there are special events in my child’s life?
- Is there Health Care and/or Counseling when my child needs it?
- Should I get to know my child’s dorm parents and residence assistants?
- Is there anything I should try and do when my child comes home for breaks?
- What should I expect when I visit my child at BFA?
- What can I do when my child is having a difficult time living at a dorm?
- What should I be aware of when my child graduates?
- Should I buy binders/notebooks and paper for school?
- How much homework will my child be required to do?
- Will there be time and help for my child to do all of the homework assigned?
- Will there be assistance if my child is falling behind or has a learning disability?
- What do I need to do if my child is an American citizen?
- What do I need to do if my child is not American or Canadian citizens?
For more in-depth answers to your questions please read the Parent Manual. It has very detail answers to these and many more questions concerning your child’s time here at BFA.
The First Moments
I feel like I am giving up my role as parent.
These are normal feelings that come and go while your children are attending boarding school. We want you to know that we are not trying to replace you or take on your role as parents. You are still their parents, and you are still the most important adults in your children’s lives. It is extremely important for you to keep in consistent communication with your children while they are in the boarding program. There is nothing more disheartening to a child than not to be getting mail, e-mail or phone calls from the people they love the most.
What should I expect when my child first arrives?
There will most likely be some difficult times of transition and stress. Children will act out in a variety of ways. Most will get homesick. Some will feel this immediately, while others will be so excited to be here that homesickness won’t set in until a week or two later. Once in a while a child may exhibit anger or disobedience. Some will warm up to the dorm staff immediately and some won’t feel totally relaxed around them until after Christmas break. When you speak with your children by phone or when they write to you they may sound a bit different than you are used to. Don’t be alarmed. It will take some time for your children to become accustomed to their new situation.
I feel like I’m losing contact with my child, what can I do?
It is very important for you and for your children to keep up communication as much as you can with what is going on in your their lives. You will be sent a calendar with school events on it. Make sure you have your children keep you up to date with the events in which they are participating. If you know they have a game, recital, concert, big test, banquet, big date, or some other important event coming up in their schedule, write or call and give them some encouragement, congratulations, or whatever else might be appropriate. It is also important for you to keep your children aware of what is going on in your lives and ministries.
What about when there are special events in my child’s life?
We want to make sure the special events in your child’s life get recognized while they are here in one of our dorms. Birthdays, anniversaries, special dates or special seasons may have a greater significance to your children than to the other children in the dorm. All the dorms have special times to celebrate birthdays and you should feel free to send a gift or come and be a part of the celebration. If you would like your children to have or do something special at any time during the year, make sure you let your children’s dorm parents know so that they can help you set something up for your children. Some parents leave gifts for the dorm parents to give their children later in the year. Some leave money so the dorm parents can purchase something special for their children. It is never wrong to send a package to your children. Encourage your family to also send letters and packages.
Is there Health Care and/or Counseling if my child needs it?
Health Care of the boarding students is taken care of primarily by the dorm parents. The dorm staff is given a course by the German Red Cross and is certified in CPR and First Aid. There is at least one full time nurse on call at the school during the school day who is also available during evenings for emergencies and consultation. There is 24-hour physician and emergency care in Kandern and doctors do make house calls. The nearest hospital is in Lörrach, which is about 25 minutes away. The school organizes orthodontics for any of the students who need it. There are several competent dentists in Kandern.
BFA provides counseling for any students who need it. This can happen based on a request from you or a recommendation from BFA staff. There is a Counseling Resource Team that oversees all the counseling that takes place. When it is determined that a child needs counseling only the people directly involved will be made aware of it and the counseling sessions themselves will be kept in strict confidence. No child will receive professional, ongoing counseling without parental permission.
Should I get to know my child’s dorm parents and residence assistants?
In most cases, before school begins, your children’s dorm parents will write to you with a short biography of who they are and from where they come. If you bring your children to school at the beginning of the school year, it is very important that you take the time to meet and talk with your children’s dorm parents and residence assistants. It would also be good if you wrote to your children’s dorm parents before your children arrive, introducing yourself and ministry or work. Then, if you do need to talk to them concerning your children later on in the year you will already have some common ground upon which to build. During the school year it is never a mistake to call or write your children’s dorm parents. We would hope that most of these calls would be of a positive nature and we want to encourage you not to wait until there is a problem before you communicate.
Is there anything I should try and do when my child comes home for breaks?
When your children come home for a break make sure you set aside some fairly large portions of time to spend with them. This may mean curtailing your ministry a bit, but it will be worth it in the long run. Be ready to let them tell you how they are feeling. Make sure you give them the time they need to express themselves fully. Sometimes they may actually feel guilty that they are enjoying school as much as they are. This is not abnormal and you have to remember that all their friends, activities and facilities are at the school. Don’t let this make you feel bad! It most likely means you have done a great job parenting and they are so confident in your love that the separation is not taking away their joy.
Also be aware it will take some time for them to adjust to being back in your home when they come back for Christmas, Easter and summer breaks. They have gotten used to a very tight schedule and may be looking for some freedom and some rest. They have also gotten used to being accountable to a schedule instead of a parent. This may cause some misunderstanding at times. For the summer break it is usually good to give your children a few days to relax and recuperate when they first arrive home. However it will also be good to have some structure in their life such as having them clean their room and maybe have a chore that they have to do on a regular basis. This, of course, is completely up to you and is merely a suggestion to help them transition from home back to the dorm after the break.
What should I expect when I visit my child at BFA?
When you come to visit your children at BFA there are some things about which you need to be aware. First of all remember your children have not seen you for several weeks or even months. It may take some time to get back into the same relationship you had when you brought them to school. While you are here you may find your children a bit unsure as to whom they should be listening. They have been listening to their dorm parents and RAs and now suddenly you have become another authority figure who needs to have input into their lives. Remember, too, your children are in the middle of a lot of activity and a fairly intense schedule. It will be hard for you to break into that schedule. You may feel you are intruding into your children’s dorm life. This is normal in many cases, so take some time to set up the “ground rules” for your visit.
Will they be staying with you? When is the best time to be with your children at the dorm? Do you want to take them out of school for a day and do something special? (This is expected and encouraged but needs to be cleared with the school and shouldn’t be for more than a day or two per semester). Are their any special events your children don’t want to miss? If you are feeling excluded, talk to your children about it. They may not even realize it is happening.
Do your best to enjoy your visit. If there are concerns in school or in the dorm, deal with those in as concise a manner as possible and don’t make them the focus of the visit. The only time this would not be the case is if your visit was precipitated by a specific problem. We know you want to enjoy your visit, so doing some pre-visit preparation will yield some long lasting results.
What can I do when my child is having a difficult time living at a dorm?
Please understand that boarding school is not for everyone. There are kids who have issues of a nature that will make boarding school very difficult and some times impossible. Generally when we get an application these things will show up and we will not approve such an application. However there are times when children’s issues don’t become clear until they arrive. We will do all we can to make their time here a success, but once in a while even students and parents with the best of intentions can’t make it work.
If you have a feeling that things are not going well with your children, talk to your children’s dorm parents. If your children have been at school for one or two months and are still having problems of any sort, let the dorm parents know. In fact if you have any concerns at all, always talk to your children’s dorm parents first. Then, if you are not satisfied with their answers, let the Residence Life Office know right away. Once you have done this the Residence Life Office, your children’s dorm parents and you will begin to work on solving whatever issues your children are having.
There is a counseling team on campus that will also get involved if it appears that your children need that sort of care. However your children will not undergo any counseling unless you are in agreement with it. We never want children to have to leave a BFA dorm, and we will do everything we can to make sure your children have every opportunity to succeed.
What should I be aware of when my child graduates?
Take comfort in the fact that thousands of kids have gone through boarding school and are now well adjusted adults. There have, of course, been some failures, but statistics have shown that kids reared in boarding schools adjust to adulthood at about the same rate as kids who spent their school years at home. At the same time be aware that your children will change. Children usually adjust fairly easily to new situations and they will have adjusted to being at a boarding school. This will have changed them in their outlook on life and their understanding of who they are. You will always be the ones who know your children best, but be aware there will be some interesting alterations in them because of the things they have experienced in their dorm.
Should I buy binders/notebooks and paper for school?
The school has no requirement as to the type of binder or notebook students brings with them. However it is important to remember that BFA does not use North American standard 8½ X 11 inch paper but rather A4 paper which is the standard for Europe. Binders here come with either two rings or four. Either will work, but the four-ring is more common. If you already live in Europe then you will have no trouble taking care of this. If you are coming from the USA or Canada, it might be best for you to wait and have your children buy their binders and paper here. There is a stationery store in Kandern that will have most or all of what you need. On the first weekend of the semester many of the dorms will take a trip to Carrefour, a French department store, where stationery items are a bit cheaper.
How much homework will my child be required to do?
It is important to realize that BFA expects a lot of its students academically. Two of the biggest ways this shows itself is in the number of papers students are expected to write, and the amount of homework students usually have. This is especially true in grades 11 and 12.
Will there be time and help for my child to do all of the homework assigned?
Each dorm has a two-hour study hall each night. For most students, most of the time, this two-hour block will be enough to finish homework. However there are times throughout the school year when your children will need to spend more than this amount on their homework or long-term projects. This means that Monday through Thursday nights are pretty much taken up with studying. Friday through Sunday nights are often filled with activities so students need to find or make time to study on the weekends. Dorm parents and RAs will do all they can to help students with their homework. The teaching staff is also very good at finding time to assist students who need some extra help. This may take place before, during or after school as well as at the dorm where quite a few of our teaching staff spend one or two evenings a week.
Will there be assistance if my child is falling behind or has a learning disability?
The Discovery Program is designed to help students who have learning issues. We in the dorm program will partner with your children’s teachers and Discovery therapists to do all we can to see that your children succeed at BFA.
What do I need to do if my child is an American citizen?
If you are an American citizen and your children are planning to attend college or university, it is important for you to be filling out a FAFSA request form. This can be done online and can mean up to US $3000 in tuition aid per year from the US government. Their website is: www.fafsa.ed.gov
What do I need to do if my child is not American or Canadian citizens?
You need to be aware of an important issue. Because we are an American school and since most of our students end up in college or university in Canada or the USA, it is very possible and even likely that your children will want to go to Canada or the USA for their college or university training. This may be something you are happy with, but if not you need to be thinking about how you want to handle the situation well before it is time for your children to decide where they want to be after high school. If your children are Asian, European, Australian or African we suggest you get in touch with the guidance department as soon as your children enroll at BFA. It is never too soon to start planning with your children so that they can be sure to get the classes that will make it possible for them to get into college or university in the country of your and their choice.