Our ultimate packing list for boarding school was one of our most popular blog posts from 2017. We know it’s a winner because it’s based on the real-life experiences of boarding school parents and their children.
Boarding schools do their best to make the boarding house feel like home away from home but it’s often the little things that only your child can bring that make the real difference.
Schools provide great, comprehensive lists of all the essentials required but we’ve put together a list of other, more personal items that will make your child’s start to school that little bit easier.
For Boys and Girls
- Writing paper or nice cards and stamps to send thank you letters to parents that take you out for the weekend
- Overnight bag – for weekend trips out of the boarding house – if you are searching, Country Road have great weekend bags for <$100
- Beach towel
- 2 x underwear bags – so your underwear doesn’t end up lost in the mysterious vortex called Boarding School Laundry (absolutely essential). Some schools will supply these through their clothing shop.
- Padlocks with a number lock
- Plastic tub with a name on it for storing food, personal items etc. (the food tub becomes very important)
- Your own pillow and doona cover from home (if you can bring your own)
- A favourite soft toy (very useful for hugging when feeling homesick)
- Torch – for midnight missions and ghost stories
- Favourite photos of your family (including pets) and of home for when you get a bit homesick
- Blu-tack for putting photos/posters on/in wardrobes or walls
- Clock radio or travel alarm to help get you up in the morning (many schools take phones away from children at bedtime so it’s not a great idea to rely on a phone)
- Portable bluetooth speaker for dorm parties, study music and to help you get up in the morning (you can buy these for as little as $20-$30 at Officeworks)
- Ear buds or headphones (a headphone splitter can be handy when sharing music quietly amongst friends)
- Spare phone/iPad charger cord/powerpack (as they invariably go ‘missing’ or get damaged)
- A good book – they will be shared, swapped so great to have one or two they can retreat to and then share
- Double adaptor/ power board – often boarding houses are old so there are only one or two power points to share between many. They’ll need to be tagged though.
- Playing cards or Uno or a small board game
- Football, soccer ball, tennis balls, basketball
- Ugg boots for movie nights in the boarding house
- Dressing gown – lightweight or a snuggly sloppy joe
- Permanent marker to write your name on your clothes
- Labels like Stuck on Your Labels
- Ensure your power appliances are tagged or check to see if the school provides this service – essential for hairdryers/straighteners, phone/laptop chargers, personal fans etc.
Don’t forget that you can add to the experience by sending ‘care packages’ in the mail – a new experience for so many of us these days. You can send food top-ups, special treats, toiletries that have been forgotten and little notes of love from home. They’re greatly anticipated and bring a lot excitement when received.
Regular written correspondence with your son or daughter is also important for a number of reasons. It provides a record of what’s happening at home for them and a record of what’s happening at school for you. It also encourages them to write. Text messages and calls from mobiles will most often be the most regular method of communication but emails and even snail mail letters or cards are also greatly appreciated. Great times to send cards are when you sense your child is feeling down (something hopeful or aspirational), exam time (good luck and thinking of you), or just anytime really.
This is a list of suggestions, not instructions, so if you have any suggestions for boys or girls, please share them. It’s always helpful to find out what works for other families.