The Outdoor Education Homesickness Approach
Outdoor Education is often a child's first time away from home, so it is normal for a few students to feel homesick. The vast majority of students who experience homesickness finish the week successfully. As students overcome homesickness, they build confidence, independence, and positive memories of individual and shared experiences.
At Outdoor Education, we use various techniques to assist students struggling with separation. Our main objective is to occupy students with regularly scheduled activities such as hiking, evening programs, cabin time, and games. Should a student's homesickness persist, a teacher or naturalist will counsel the student individually. Below are some techniques we commonly employ with homesick students:
- Encourage homesick students to write a letter home about all the fun things they are doing at Outdoor Education.
- Assign a special job (such as Time Keeper, Banana Slug Protector, Fungus Counter, Binoculars Carrier, etc.) to occupy a homesick student during day hikes.
- Read stories to students prior to bedtime to help students fall asleep.
- Ensure that homesick students sleep in a bunk nearby a good friend or a cabin leader.
- Assign hiking groups or meal tables so that homesick students have a good friend in their group. (Homesick students may also be assigned to a hiking group with their cabin leader and cabin naturalist for consistency and familiarity.)
- Share with currently homesick students letters written by former students who overcame their reservations and enjoyed a successful week at Outdoor Education. Homesick students are invited to write their own letters to add to the collection.
If necessary, parents or guardians may be contacted to discuss a strategy for confronting homesickness.
A Note for Parents on Homesickness
Before your child leaves for Outdoor Education, take time to discuss being away from home. Create positive expectations and answer their questions and concerns. Let your child know that they will be busy participating in activities and collecting experiences that will make their return home even more exciting. If you have specific concerns about homesickness, please contact your child's teacher about special arrangements.
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