TIDBITS for New Deerfield Parents
The First Link Committee of the Deerfield Parents Network (DPN) has put together this list of “tidbits”—useful information that you’ll find helpful as your child gets ready to leave for school. This year, we’ve also added suggestions specifically for day students.
If you have questions or comments about the First Link program, feel free to contact Co-Chair Vanessa Lewis. Also, during the coming months if you have any good “tidbits” of your own to add, please email us!
- Make travel arrangements and book hotel rooms as far in advance as you can. Things do book up quickly. You can check on the school calendar to figure out the dates for up to three years.
- Help your child be content with their housing or rooming assignment. It all really does work out even if they don’t get the dorm they wanted or are not placed with a close friend (after all, they will make new friends in their dorms). Housing can be an adjustment. Make it easier for them by accepting whatever happens.
- Input the following important phone numbers into your phone or planner. You never know when you might need them and you don’t want to scramble at that time:
- Main Switchboard: 413-772-0241
- Your Child’s Advisor and Dorm Resident: (ask for their numbers at drop-off or you can find their information on DAinfo on your child’s schedule page)
- Security (after hours): 413-772-9880
- Security (daytime): 413-774-1558
- Health Center: (413) 774-1600
- SOC (School Officer in Charge): 413-772-9070
- Bring a foam mattress topper (twin XL) to make their bed feel as cozy as possible. We are not saying that the beds aren’t comfortable . . . they are. But a mattress topper makes for extra comfort.
- Less is more in terms of what your son or daughter brings to school. Due to limited storage space, err on the side of bringing less than they think they need. Leave the winter clothes at home for now and bring them up during Family Weekend (and at that same time, take home the lightweight clothing they won’t be needing until the spring). Here is the suggested packing list. As per one of the tidbits below, you can always ship anything they need.
- Label your child’s clothing to help prevent laundry mishaps and headaches with lost or borrowed clothing. We recommend something like this stamp from the Grommet. For more on this topic, Belinda Terry P’20 shares her thoughts in “Just Label Everything”.
- Discuss communication with your child before they head off. Set expectations with your child regarding how often (and in what mode) you’ll communicate. (And don’t make it too frequent . . . remember they will be busy!) Sometimes a quick texting exchange is more feasible than a conversation. Just be content with whatever they are willing to give you!
- Meet the proctors and teachers/faculty members on your child’s hall when you drop-off your student. We know you are busy helping your child set-up their room, but your child’s dorm residents and proctors are an invaluable resource for you. You will want to put a face to the name that your child will certainly be referencing.
- Meet Joe Garey in Shipping and Receiving (located in the basement of the Chen Health and Wellness Center). Joe makes sure that all your packages reach your student. Amazon delivers anything and everything to Deerfield, and it gets there quickly. You can also send boxes/packages ahead of time and he will hold them for your student.
- Don’t be surprised at how your child handles the “goodbye moment” when you are ready to leave them at school. Some children may be upset as you are trying to leave. Some children will barely say goodbye as they head off with their new friends. And for some, it will be uneventful. Remember to give them space—boarding school is a stepping stone to self-confidence and independence for your child.
- For parents of freshmen heading off to Camp Beckett immediately after drop- off . . . stay strong for your child as they are getting ready to leave. The trip helps separate the students from their parents in a gentle way. This is a hard moment for all but it makes it easier to say goodbye.
- Encourage your child to get involved with different clubs and activities or to try for leadership positions. It is a hard leap for them, but they will feel more entrenched in the community more quickly, even by just “trying.” These opportunities present themselves very soon after school starts.
- Understand that students are busy! Their schedule is packed and they are forming relationships with their new friends, doing homework, studying, getting involved with clubs, participating in school activities, going to mandatory meetings and lectures. In addition, they are having fun, so be patient with them.
- Explore DAINFO where you can see your child’s schedule, their teachers, their classmates, the family directory to communicate with other parents, etc. This is a password-protected site so make sure you remember your password. If ever your contact informationhas changed (address, email, phone, etc.), please do not delay in having it updated on DAINFO by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and letting them the new information.
- Check out The Bulletin online. This link is also available on the DA homepage. While it is primarily for students, it can give you a sense of daily happenings on campus.
- Read The Deerfield Scroll, the student paper, published monthly. It offers terrific insights into what is happening on campus.
- Consider creating a network of parents that live close by you for package deliveries or ride sharing. We know a group of parents from one area that emails their “network” to see if anyone is headed up when they need something brought up to their student or if they are looking for a ride-share or carpool. This is more efficient and less expensive than FEDEX—and you’ll have the chance to make new friends as well.
- “Let go” of your child as much as you can. Encourage them to solve problems on their own as much as they are capable of doing and hold off on “picking up the phone” to solve it for them. Foster their independence. Encourage them to speak with their advisor for help or advice if they need. You can also share relevant information with your child’s advisor, confidentially, that could help your child.
- Don’t be a complainer and encourage your child to do the same. When speaking with any staff member at Deerfield, always be polite (this goes without saying, but a few of us seasoned parents thought it was worth mentioning). No place is perfect, and you needn’t speak up every time something doesn’t go your way or your child’s way. Remember to let your child handle any problems and to seek help at DA if needed.
- Get to know your child’s friends whenever possible. If and when you visit, take a few of your child’s friends out for ice cream or a meal. It is a great way for you to feel connected to your child by knowing their friends. Also get together with other families even if the kids are not in the same friendship circle . . . it helps them to know even more DA students.
- Attend the plays, concerts, and musicals at school. The performing arts programs are incredible and are a great way to join your child and their friends at a school event.
- Attend weekend sports games, either home or away, when and if possible. Not only is it fun to watch the different games and cheer for Big Green, but also you will meet other parents in the stands and feel a closer connection to the school . . . and thus your child.
- Find any Deerfield information you may need simply by using Google. For example, if you aren’t sure where to find the athletic schedule and you want to go to a game, simply Google: “Deerfield Academy athletic schedule fall 2019.” It will bring you right there. Or, if you need your child’s mailing address, input “Deerfield Academy mailing address.”
- Rely on your First Link to answer any questions you may have now or during the school year. Your student has their Green Key to help them, and you have your First Link. Use them!
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