Parents lament loss of breakfast banter

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2014
Joel Parker, 17, enjoys late starts at Wellington High School but mum Marg Lawson
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

Joel Parker, 17, enjoys late starts at Wellington High School but mum Marg Lawson says she misses spending time with her son in the morning.

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A lie-in gets a big tick from high school students, but a thumbs down from parents who say they barely see their children any more.

Neville Parker and Marg Lawson say they have noticed the lack of family time with son Joel Parker, 17, since he started attending Wellington High School. They miss the morning communication most.

Wellington High School introduced late starts for senior students under former principal Prue Kelly.

While the extra morning snooze is popular with students at the Mt Cook college, other principals have not adopted the policy because they say that, among other reasons, it would not help prepare teenagers for tertiary study or the workplace.

Joel's parents, whose two other children attended schools with an early start, say it's good for their son to learn time management but consequently they have little clue what he's up to.

"The downside is he's not up when we are, there's no breakfast together, no heading out the door together or conversations about the day ahead," Lawson said.

At the end of the day the rest of the family heads off to bed while Joel stays up later and studies.

Joel, who went to Wellington College until last year, said he missed the family time and chats on the way to school with his dad.

However, Wellington High School's co-educational and more "liberal" environment, lack of uniform and increased subject choice were a better fit overall.

"I like the late start because I don't really get up that much later but now instead of rushing to school on time I can have breakfast and a coffee and not be so rushed all the time."

He said plenty of his friends still stayed in bed until the last minute and just scraped through the gate by 10am.

And some teenagers were notoriously bad at getting to school at all and having a late start meant more students made it to class.

While Joel's parents acknowledge the policy teaches students to be organised and independent, the ultimate sacrifice was family time.

Parker said he immediately noticed the difference when his son changed school.

"When Joel was at Wellington College we would often go in the car together in the morning and while we didn't talk about anything too deeply it was still a connection time that was enjoyed."

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- The Dominion Post

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