On Tuesday, March 9th, Secondary Principal, Daun Yorke, and MYP Assistant Coordinator, Emma Yang, led a workshop for secondary parents about raising teenagers and pre-teens, also known as “tweens” (children who are in-between childhood and the teenage years). The secret to successfully parenting a teen is communication. The lines of communication between you and your child need to be open. Parents also need to understand that even though teenagers may look like adults as they are becoming taller (maybe even taller than you) and their bodies may look more like adult bodies, but they are still children. Sometimes parents make the mistake of backing away from their teenagers, allowing them to have free reign of technology (lap-tops, I-pads and mobile phones) and allowing them to spend long days and nights behind a closed door in their bedrooms. You may get the message from your child: “I am busy. Leave me alone. I am in my room and I want to be alone.”
As parents, our children need us more than ever as they navigate the road from childhood to adulthood. They are not yet ready to make adult decisions and completely monitor their own time and activities freely. They need us. Independence comes in stages, slowly increase the amount of independence you release to your child so by the time they are ready for university, your child will be ready for a life with increased responsibilities and freedoms.
At school, we are supporting students to be internet-safe and to develop appropriate skills around technology. When students from MYP1 to MYP3 arrive at school, they hand over their mobile phones to homeroom teachers. The phones are put into a “phone hotel” until the end of the school day. If students need to contact their parents, they use their phone under the supervision of the teacher.
There have been increased issues with MYP4 and MYP5 high school students losing focus at school. As a result, for two weeks (last week and this week) they are on a digital detox at school with no phones. The lead teacher and students are monitoring and meeting about this situation and students will share ideas about how to ease into more technology freedom with more student responsibility.
DP1-2 students are not required to hand in their mobile phones, but the teacher carefully monitor the students’ digital device use. Our goal is to provide increased student technology responsibility, coupled with increased freedom through the years of secondary school. If students are not monitoring their own behaviour, there will be consequences and communication with home. Our goal is to work together, school and home, to raise responsible digital citizens.
Advice for you as parents:
Set up some clear rules around technology at home.
Decide how many hours you child can use the phone and laptop, share this rule and consistently monitor.
Keep the phone, laptop, i-pad out of the bedroom at night.
Your child needs uninterrupted sleep for optimum growth and health.
At mealtime, sit together as a family and talk face-to face.
Establish a no-phone rule at mealtime.
Set up a family meeting night where everyone has an opportunity to speak, be sure to talk about world issues and topics that require your child to expand and share their intellect in their mother tongue.
Have date night/day with your child regularly (one child, one parent).
Make date night/day separate if your child has more than one sibling and do something special that your child chooses.
Tap into your child’s interest. (Every middle school child is creating a year-long META (passion) Project of their choice. MYP5 students are leading their learning with a Personal Project and DP students with a 4000 word Extended Essay on an area of interest.)
Why did your child choose that topic to focus on for one year? Have them talk to you about their interests and independent study for this project.
In every class, your child receives Quarterly Academic Reports that give information about topics and concepts studied in each MYP or DP course. You should have received this report over the past week.
Talk over each subject and what your child is learning (use the quarterly report for reference).
It is essential that we adults monitor our behaviour. Are we distracted by technology when are child is trying to talk with us? Is it time for us to have a digital detox or set up some boundaries around technology for ourselves?
Our jobs, as parents and teachers is to water and nurture the seed and support the plants growth. Your child will go through some tumultuous times as they travel that road from childhood to adulthood. The skies will not always be blue, they will experience inclement weather. Let’s work together, home and school, to support your child’s growth. They need us.
We want to work with you. Let’s keep the lines of communication open between the school and home to support your child’s growth at this crucial time.
（Short video shared by Ms.Yorke）