A mother helps her son unload the car as they move him into his school dorm, following the key steps to prepare him for dorm life

Moving away to college or university will likely be the longest stretch of time your teen has ever spent away from home, and taking a little time to prepare can help make the transition go as smoothly as possible. In your final few weeks of back-to-school shopping, packing, and enjoying what's left of the summer holidays, take these eight steps to help prepare your teen for dorm life:

  1. Put mental health first. Moving away for the first time can be both exciting and daunting. Help your teen prepare for the potential emotional toll of being away from home and experiencing additional pressures by practising mindfulness together, outlining a self-care routine, and coming up with strategies to combat stress and anxiety. Having the tools to properly manage their emotional wellbeing will help make dorm life a positive experience they can look back on fondly for the rest of their life.
  2. Teach some laundry lessons. If you don't happen to have a kid who loves doing their own laundry, plan to teach them how to sort colours, follow washing directions, run the washer, and clear the lint trap to prevent dryer fires before they move away to school. Remember to pack stain remover, detergent, and a roll of coins for the machines in their dorm.
  3. Don't let the bed bugs bite. Bed bugs don't discriminate, and once they're let in, they can make themselves at home in even the cleanest of dorm rooms. Consider picking up a cover that zips around the entire mattress to protect your teen's bed from unwanted pests. Many of these bug-proof mattress covers are hypoallergenic, waterproof, and keep dust mites away too.
  4. Pack for a good night's sleep. Items like sound-reducing earplugs and an eye mask can help your student get some rest if their roommate is up cramming for a mid-term or watching a movie all night.
  5. Remember to keep it clean. While they may not be on the top of your teen's list of things to pack, basic cleaning supplies like a small vacuum, a broom, environmentally friendly cleaning products, and dusting cloths can make that dorm room sparkle like new — even if they're only used when you come to visit. Don't forget these on move-in day.
  6. Plan for sick days. While many campuses have their own medical facilities, it's a good idea to make sure your teen knows the address and phone number for their nearest off-campus walk-in clinic and 24-hour pharmacy. Keep a photocopy of their health card at home, and give them the physical card to keep in a safe place. Prepare an emergency first-aid kit with bandages, disinfectant wipes, painkillers, and other medications they might need.
  7. Get them road ready. If your student plans to take their car with them when they move away for school, remind them to share this upcoming move with their group's insurance broker so they have the coverage they need. Make sure they also have a driving emergency kit ready to go in their trunk in case of a vehicle breakdown or roadside emergency.

    Helping your teen move away for school? Along with the tissues for your goodbyes, make sure they're prepared for dorm life with cleaning supplies, a plan for medical emergencies, and some necessary laundry skills.

  8. Last but not least, review your own home insurance policy. Did you know that some home insurance policies are designed to protect family members who are living away from home while attending college or university? Before you pack up and get going, review your insurance policy or talk to your group's broker to find out if your coverage will extend to your kids — and if it won't, consider getting them their own tenant insurance policy to make sure they're protected while away at school.

Now that you're almost ready to hit the road, take some steps to prepare your vehicle for a safe trip and talk to your group's broker to make sure your car insurance policy is up to date. Your group's broker can also find out if you'll qualify for any savings on your car insurance when your teen no longer has access to your vehicle.

Know other parents who are getting ready to send their teens off to school? Share these tips on Facebook or Twitter