PREP4 is all about promoting positive adjustment. When young people spend time away from home, they naturally feel some homesickness and acculturation stress. That gets in the way of learning, having fun, and making friends. Prep4Camp and Prep4School solve those problems with fun videos that families can watch together. With Prep4, success is more than just a score.
- Prep4Camp is a 25-minute, live-action video starring actual campers talking about the best ways to prepare for summer camp, make new friends, and cope with normal feelings of missing home. Prep4Camp is hosted by Dr. Chris Thurber and is endorsed by the American Camp Association.
- Prep4School is a collection of 4-7-minute animations designed to prepare international students to adjust to boarding school in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. Written and narrated by Dr. Chris Thurber and Dr. Szu-Hui Lee, Prep4School is endorsed by The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS).
- Both Prep4School and Prep4Camp are available on two platforms: Website (which you are on right now) and a WeChat mini program, which you can find by opening WeChat and searching Prep4School.
More about Prep4School: Promoting Positive Adjustment for International Students
Harvard graduates, Dr. Chris Thurber and Dr. Szu-Hui Lee, have partnered with The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) to create a library of brief animations that help international students succeed at boarding schools around the world. Both Dr. Thurber and Dr. Lee are psychologists who work as teachers and clinicians at Phillips Exeter Academy, one of the oldest and most prestigious independent schools in the United States.
“We wanted to create short, fun animations on topics we knew were important to all students,” said Dr. Lee in a recent interview. “And our experience with international families gave us insights about the best ways to promote positive adjustment,” added Dr. Thurber. “Too often, we saw international students who had solid academic preparation, but little or no social or emotional learning (SEL) preparation, and limited familiarity with interactive pedagogies.”
“For these students,” said Dr. Lee, “boarding school was an uncomfortable shock. For months—sometimes the entire first year—they would struggle emotionally and under-perform academically.” The two psychologists—both of whom also teach—created videos that specifically teach international students about teacher-student interactions, classroom conventions, and acculturation stress.
Better acculturation also includes learning homesickness prevention. “All people miss something about home when they are away,” said Dr. Thurber, who has published a dozen studies on homesickness in peer-reviewed psychology journals. “Two of our animations teach students what they need to know to prevent homesickness and, once they arrive in a new country, what strategies lower the intensity of homesick feelings.
Both Dr. Thurber and Dr. Lee believe that the decision to attend boarding school in another country is a serious and exciting one. But succeeding as an international student requires careful preparation on a variety of levels. For that reason, Dr. Thurber and Dr. Lee hope that parents and students watch their 4-to-7-minute videos, which are subtitled in both English and Mandarin. “Watching our animated videos together, as a family, can prompt excellent discussion,” remarked Dr. Thurber. The two professional educators hope that when parents and students watch the entire Prep4School series, in the months before the student leaves home, everyone will adjust smoothly to the transition.
Currently, the animation library—which is available exclusively by paid subscription—contains these titles:
Caregiver Support for Students
o GOAL: Teach parents how to support their son or daughter from a geographic distance.
Homesickness Prevention, Part 1
o GOAL: Teach students to recognize the signs and symptoms of missing home.
Homesickness Prevention, Part 2
o GOAL: Teach students the best coping strategies for homesickness.
Sleep Hygiene, Part 1
o GOAL: Teach students how to create an environment conducive to excellent sleep.
Sleep Hygiene, Part 2
o GOAL: Teach students strategies for coping with insomnia and poor sleep.
Active Engagement with Teachers
o GOAL: Teach students how best to interact with Western teachers.
Joining Classroom Discussions
o GOAL: Teach students to be comfortable asking questions and making comments.
Acculturation Stress, Part 1
o GOAL: Teach students to manage the many new things about Western culture.
Acculturation Stress, Part 2
o GOAL: Teach students to make healthy social connections and enjoy their new home.
Time Management Success, Part 1
o GOAL: Teach students and parents to balance work, play, and sleep efficiently.
Time Management Success, Part 2
o GOAL: Teach students the best ways to create a schedule and complete assignments.
Recalibrating Your Self Image
o GOAL: Teach students and parents how to find self-worth among outstanding peers.
In their work with students at Phillips Exeter Academy, Dr. Thurber and Dr. Lee encounter all of the challenging topics addressed in Prep4School. And although each student copes somewhat differently with these challenges, the Prep4School animations teach all of the most effective ways of coping.
“We also hope to partner with boarding school associations to providing live, interactive resources for families,” noted Dr. Lee. WeChat salons, podcasts, and live streaming may soon be part of Prep4School.com. “We are also looking forward to creating more animations, based on ideas from international students and their parents,” added Dr. Thurber.