A leading head teacher has advised parents to avoid turning to WhatsApp chat groups to check about homework and pupils’ needs, warning that it could prevent pupils from growing up and taking responsibility for their own timetables.
In a blog post to parents, Jane Lunnon, head of Wimbledon High School in London, said that parents are turning to chat groups to check what homework had been set and what kit their children needed, but believed they should not be used once children reach secondary school.
She went on to say that use of the groups was contributing to parents “micromanaging” their children and fighting their own battles for them.
“As parents we could all probably still learn a thing or two about backing off from micromanaging our children’s lives, from smoothing their paths and fighting their battles,” she wrote, as reported by The Times.
“We know how tempting it is — but what is that teaching our children? That they can’t manage their own lives? That problems can only be solved by grown-ups?
In the post, entitled ‘Backing off – letting your child be and building their resilience’, the leading head teacher said staying off parental chat groups could help encourage children to take control of their own schedules.
“Stay off the parents’ WhatsApp chat! When your children are in secondary school, it’s time for them to take control of homework and other logistics. Don’t join the group. Embrace Fomo (fear of missing out) and let everyone else work themselves into a frenzy. What’s the worst that could happen? A homework detention?”
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The head teacher went on to add that forgetting to do their homework or not bringing the right kit, and being punished as a result, was part of growing up and could help encourage children to develop vital organisation skills.
Lunnon had some words of advice for parents when it comes to other forms of social media too. Urging them to resist editing images to show more idealistic examples of family life.
“Don’t overly curate your own online life. Encourage a healthy scepticism of social media feeds,” she wrote.
“As parents we’re often guilty of posting a perfect family photo (when behind the scenes everyone was bickering) or carefully choosing and filtering holiday photos (and not the one where you were all hunkering out of the rain). Social media can offer great support for young people, but the negatives are well documented.
“Have honest conversations that empower your teen to ‘unfollow’, to stick to their principles and avoid getting swept up in someone else’s supposedly perfect life.”
Last year, a new term was given to the latest in the hyper-protective parenting clan. Snow plough mums and dads are described as those who try to clear the way for their children so they don’t encounter any slippery slopes on the path to adulthood.
Typical behaviours of snow plough parents can include dropping off forgotten homework/school lunches/violins and speaking to teachers if their child doesn’t like the group they’ve been put in.
Similarly, Ms Lunnon used her message to parents to advise them to try to resist the urge to step in if their child gets told off, punished or “dropped from the A team” while at school.
She believes that stepping back could help fuel their child’s resilience.
“Your teen might think it’s ‘so unfair’ but before protesting along with them, are you sure it might not be justified? Listen to your teen’s complaint. Give a hug and sympathetic noises. But trust the school and the teacher. Present the other side of the argument. And then leave them to think and work things out on their own,” she advised.
Yahoo UK has contacted the school for further comment.
It isn’t the first time a school has issued advice to parents about technology.
The move was introduced after the school’s headteacher spotted parents were too engrossed in their phones to engage with their children when picking them up from school.
Other schools are also taking action in order to try to help improve the wellbeing of parents and children.
It was also recently revealed that a primary school in the UK has banned school holidays, allowing parents to take their children out of school for six weeks whenever they want.
Over in Australia, a school in Melbourne, recently announced it has started fining parents who pick their children up late.
The new policy was introduced after the school spotted a trend for parents leaving their children on school premises long after teaching hours had finished.
And last year, a school in the US hit headlines after they introduced a dress code for parents picking children up at the school gates.
James Madison High School in Houston claimed it will turn away parents who show up at the school gates in pyjamas, hair rollers, leggings and other ‘unsuitable’ items of clothing.