Prevention and Preparation
- Practice sleeping away from home (i.e., staying with other family members, friends).
- Review the website and/or handbook together as a family so your child gains a sense of what to anticipate.
- Discuss homesickness with your child letting them know it is normal.
- Discuss how homesickness can impact your child:
- Potential headaches, stomachaches, loss of appetite, crying, feeling lonely
- Talk through strategies that help relieve homesick feelings, such as:
- Writing a letter or taking pictures to be shared when they are back home
- Talking to a friend or staff member
- Writing a journal to express their feelings
- Keep busy with camp activities
- Remember to stay positive! The more encouraging you can be with your child before camp, the more ready they will be.
- Be upfront in sharing the contacting home policies at camp. The more we are all on the same page, the more successful your child will be at camp.
- Be mindful of negativity and strive to express confidence in your child’s ability. Shy away from saying things like, “I hope you’ll be okay.” or “I’ll be so sad without you.” Rather, encourage your child to embrace this unique opportunity for short-term independence.
- Many parents have highly recommended the book Homesick and Happy by Michael Thompson, PhD.
- Other great tips are available through the American Camp Association:
How We Handle Homesickness
We recognize and understand homesickness is completely normal for children, and that working through these feelings provide opportunities for growth. We educate and train our staff to detect early signs of homesickness by presenting the different ways children portray missing home. As a staff we practice the skills needed to empathetically guide students with homesickness by routinely going through specific scenarios and role playing. Our staff is here to support your child through their homesickness and help them be happy and thrive at camp!
In the event that your child is having a persistent difficulty adjusting to camp (crying frequently, not eating, not able to interact with others, trouble sleeping), we will contact you to share the situation and collaboratively make a plan moving forward to address their adjustment. In most cases, these symptoms of homesickness go away quickly with the distraction of fun activities, friends, and support from staff members. However, if any behavior of concern arises, we will be sure to contact you.
What is it?
While homesickness occurs in children away from home, “kidsickness” refers to the phenomenon of the emotions parents feel during the first long-separation from their child. These emotions can include missing their child, anxiety, sadness, and more. A child’s first residential summer program may be a parent’s first experience with kidsickness. Some parents find themselves easily adjusting to having their child away, while others may struggle with the separation. But don’t worry- we are here to help!
What ways can I help prevent, prepare and combat kidsickness?
Keep in touch
- A great way to prepare having your child away is to write letters or notes. You can bring letters or care packages to check-in that our program assistants can distribute to your child while they are away. Why not reverse it?! Prepare by having your child write letters or notes for you to open each day while they are away. This may help you feel more connected.
- Check out our program updates. Throughout the program our staff sends email updates giving brief information about the activities students have enjoyed so far and will include some pictures.
- Review the Keeping in Touch page.
Don’t forget the benefits
Your child will be gaining all kinds of benefits while they are at Davidson Summer Programs. Keeping these in mind may ease your emotions and give thoughtful reason to having them away. At camp your child may gain:
- New friendships with like-minded peers: a huge benefit of attending a summer program is the opportunity to build friendships with other profoundly gifted students. Each year we see friendships that grow and students who leave feeling like they have finally found their “tribe.”
- Fun and engaging academic sessions and field trips: your child will be learning new things, exploring during field-trips, and able to dive into conversation with other students.
- Independence: a wonderful opportunity to build confidence in their ability to be away from parents surrounded by supportive and caring staff.
Stay busy and take care of yourself
While we encourage you to keep up with your email and staff updates, staying glued to your computer or phone may not help combat your “kidsickness.” While your child is away, this is a great time to treat yourself to some fun! Many parents have found the time away to be very beneficial in connecting with friends, planning adult projects or trips, and spending some much needed rejuvenation time.
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