It was an absolute honour and pleasure to welcome Barnaby Lenon, our final speaker on Thursday 6th June. Barnaby broached the subject of bringing up children and the subtle challenge all parents face with parenting rules and how these might adapt and change as the children get older. As educationalists, we face the same journey and it was good to discuss the success that synchronicity between home and school can achieve.
Barnaby highlighted the need for parental authority with good parents communicating their love but also enforcing rules in a fair and consistent manner. Having clear structure at home, family rules and discipline brings success, with children enjoying the routine and high expectations. Children do not expect parents to be their friends. Spending time with children, eating a regular family meal together and for children aged between 2 to 8, reading a book to them and with them for about 30 minutes each day with no TV in the background, establishes literacy and imagination as well as quality conversation. Expect good manners and always expect your children to be polite and thoughtful. Barnaby mentioned, as we do here at School, the importance of children taking responsibility at home, with allotted jobs around the house to help daily family living.
Barnaby spoke of the importance of sleep in a child’s routine and good management of social media and technology at home. Enforcing solid and reasonable rules for screen-time at home is essential and something we advocate strongly as a School. The effect that lazy management has on boys and girls as they grow into teenagers is concerning and this can lead to significant mental health and addictive tendencies.
Barnaby closed his talk with a look at the importance of self-belief developed through praise for effort rather than achievement. This resonated strongly with our three school values and especially the question of resilience and what we do here at School to promote and encourage this essential life skill. One of the consequences of the ‘all must succeed all the time’ culture is that young people become risk averse and this limits their potential to learn from mistakes. Like Barnaby, the school would look to Carol Dweck’s ‘Growth mindset’. We have adopted this as a school philosophy this year at Wetherby-Pembridge and have looked to encourage a move away from a fixed mindset to intelligence and performance and a step towards a growth perspective which encourages trying harder and perseverance. Above all, Barnaby advocated the encouragement we can all give children to have faith in themselves.
In amidst all the challenges of parenthood an important message resounds; which is the importance of parents looking after themselves and that if things go wrong, parents aren’t always at fault! Problems with children can be temporary but without doubt what children need is to feel loved, be heard, feel motivated, have a sense of belonging and be optimistic about the future. Being a parent and providing a supportive family atmosphere and indeed, what we as a School do to emulate and support this, matters a lot.