Hartley Outdoor Education is often a child’s first time away from home. It is normal for a few students to feel homesick. The vast majority of students who experience homesickness finish the trip successfully. As students overcome homesickness, they build confidence, independence, and positive memories of individual and shared experiences.
Hartley staff utilize various techniques to assist students struggling with separation. The main objective is to occupy students with regularly scheduled activities such as classes, free time, outdoor recreation, evening programs, and games. Should a student’s homesickness persist, a teacher or naturalist will counsel the student individually. Below are some techniques commonly employed with homesick students:
Encourage homesick students to write a letter home about all the fun things they are doing at HOEC.
Assign a special job to occupy a homesick student during downtimes.
Read stories to students prior to bedtime to help students fall asleep.
Ensure that homesick students sleep in a bunk nearby a good friend.
Assign group or meal table so that homesick students have a good friend in their group. All students are assigned to a group with the same counselor and 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 HOEC. 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 dealing with their child’s homesickness. Before students leave for Hartley, teachers should take time to discuss with their class being away from home. Create positive expectations and answer their questions and concerns. Let the students know that they will be busy participating in activities and collecting experiences that will make their return home even more exciting. Please be prepared to answer parent questions about homesickness.