Independent, West Sussex prep school, Windlesham House, has launched a new parent wellbeing programme aimed at its parent community, in a bid to boost wellbeing and mental health for families. The programme includes a range of bespoke activities such as parent workshops, teaching and learning sessions, an onsite swimming academy, tennis and netball clubs, yoga, and a parent school choir, which meets regularly. The school has also opened an onsite coffee shop during drop off and pick up times, all designed to engender a feeling of community and support mental wellness.
Ben Evans, Headmaster at Windlesham House explained, “We are constantly bombarded with information and statistics around pupil wellbeing and the strain on the mental health of young people today. While this is a very real and concerning issue, there is far less reporting around parent wellbeing and how this can add to the anxiety children face. What many schools fail to recognise is the wellbeing and mental health of parents, even though this has a direct result and impact on their pupils.”
Evans believes parents have been under huge strain, both mentally and financially over the last couple of years. The school’s mutually beneficial parenting workshops have been a great starting point. They have allowed the school to explain how it manages child development and how parents can support its work, while providing much needed continuity between home and school.
“Teaching and learning workshops give parents the opportunity to see how we teach during periods of lockdown and blended learning. Many of our parents are far more invested and aware of how their children learn, and the progress they are making. Parents should feel that their school cares about them and that they are always welcome onsite. The pandemic has shown us the importance of a cohesive community and it is vital that we continue to build on this,” said Evans.
Throughout the pandemic, there have been growing concerns that pupils are suffering from detachment from school and lack of socialisation as well as the anxiety surrounding COVID and mitigating measures. Evans believes that supporting parent wellbeing is an important step in bringing schools and families closer together.
“Schools pride themselves on being close knit, supportive communities. Therefore, school leaders have a duty of care to everyone in that community, and whilst it is absolutely right that children and staff are the priority, parents, extended family members and carers should also be part of our focus,” Evans added.