Part Five: Advice for Parents/Sponsors
By Tennille, an MHS parent/sponsor
If you do make the decision to accept the opportunity to send your child to Milton Hershey School, here’s my advice:
- Support the houseparents and teachers, and work together. None of us have all the answers, but together, we can figure out what works best. Every child and every situation is different.
- As difficult as it is, try to put some of your personal feelings aside and think about your child. It’s easy to say we would do anything for our kids, but sometimes feelings can get in the way and we don’t always do what is truly best. Continue to remember how wonderful of an opportunity our kids have—it will help those fears and feelings of worry and loneliness.
- Encourage your child and praise them! The more support our kids have from us, the better. Let them know how proud you are of them.
- Know that homesickness is real. You’re both going to have days that feel impossible to get through. Try to remember all the reasons why you made this decision because all of those reasons will be great reminders that you can get through the day. Although missing them won’t be easier, it will remind you how lucky they are to be there.
- Stay connected. Take advantage of any time that is given to us to spend with our kids. Visit during family weekends, tour the school, and see what is going on.
- Take this time that you now have during the week to work on yourself. Whatever that is for you, allow your time to be useful. We were given this opportunity, so take advantage of it.
- Thank the kids, houseparents, teachers, and everyone involved at MHS. It literally takes a village and our children are getting the benefit of having a small village pull together to teach, nurture, and support them.
- Stay in touch and stay involved. Remember, you are also a very important person in this village.
Landon enrolled at MHS when he was 4 years old from Palmyra, Pennsylvania. Tennille is Landon’s aunt and supports him as his sponsor while Landon is at MHS.