The transition to National Star – a parent’s perspective

Darcy Johnstone

It’s understandable that parents will have a mixture of emotions when their young people head off to college for the first time. Excitement, anticipation and anxiety often make an appearance. First year National Star parent Natasha shares her experience of how she managed the transition and the joy she felt when she watched her daughter Darcy change from a child to an emerging young woman.

‘When we knew Darcy would be coming to National Star, we were so excited that we had secured this amazing opportunity for our daughter, but it was shortly followed by ‘oh my, are we ready for this? Big changes ahead. So we were elated then terrified all at the same time, a real mixture of emotions.

Preparing Darcy’s transition to college

‘The National Star team have been wonderful and supported us from the very beginning of Darcy’s journey working with us throughout difficult Covid-19 times to prepare for Darcy’s transition to college including Zoom calls and care plans. They sent us photos of the college room to help us start planning which helped us to see what it looked like and where Darcy would be to start making that connection.

‘They also sent us a map of the residence which helped us with the layout and where Darcy’s room was, so we could visualise that. 

‘We shared these with Darcy and gave her some options. She asked for her room to be identical to her one at home so we began to gather things she would need to replicate it (cue lots of Amazon deliveries!!).  We met with the team via Zoom and said if we get her room right then Darcy’s confidence will follow. 

Starting college

‘So September rushed up on us (as it does) and the time came to start college.  The first six weeks were a huge period of adjustment for us all.  Darcy had never stayed away from home for long periods of time, and we all felt like we were at the top of rollercoaster – anticipation, excitement, anxiety, as well as nervous thoughts of ‘we will miss her and how will she cope?’ all rolled into one. It was a very worrying time.

‘Cue the National Star team – they have been simply amazing in helping Darcy to settle in by calling home via WhatsApp, staying in daily contact with us, giving us weekly phone call updates or emails so we know how things are going and asking for advice on how to support her if things weren’t going too well. They helped all of us move forward with this enormous, scary step and it was scary.

‘October half term came along and Darcy came home, and she had the realisation that nothing had changed at home, her room was still the same and Mum and Dad were still doing gardening and had become really, really boring.

Darcy’s transformation

‘At the end of the half term we returned to college with Darcy version 2.0 – she was singing all the way back to college in the car, chatting about all her friends and her support team – it was lovely and truly wonderful for us to see how happy she was and this was reflected by her team at National Star who now talk about the two Darcy’s – the one before half term and the one after. A complete transformation.

‘On one WhatsApp call I took a screen shot to show how her bedrooms at home and college were identical. It really helped Darcy to have something that was familiar to her where she could relax and retreat to when finding things overwhelming, her safe place, her piece (or should that be ‘peace’) of home.

‘These days, we might get a call every couple of days if we’re lucky. We speak to the team more than to Darce. She likes coming home, but recently on one journey back, I asked her if she missed home, she said No, I miss you – but when we get to college, she has a cheerio hug then happily drives off to her room chatting to her friends without so much as a backward glance. Who knew that little social butterfly was there?!

‘She is having a true college/Uni experience, hanging out with her mates and even learning how to take selfies! Since starting at National Star our daughter has changed from being our child to an emerging young woman discovering herself and who she is. This is due to the wonderful support of the National Star team and how they have worked tirelessly with us and Darcy to get her settled as quickly as possible. A truly holistic, person-centred team who will work with you to get it right for your young person.

‘The National Star team are here for you throughout your young person’s National Star journey. I wish you all a smooth transition and just hang in there, we have all stood where you are now and you are not alone.’

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