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  • Upper School

An essential school supply for next year should be an alarm clock.

Every day, I look out at the sea of faces at announcements and I see girls who are exhausted. Our ISM surveys in the fall reported that most of our students get less than 5.5 hours of sleep each night, which makes it hard for them to focus at school and regulate their emotions.

Our Parent Speaker Series presenter, Erin Walsh, shared with us that the primary reason students are getting less sleep than usual is that they take their phones into the bedroom with them at night. It's not uncommon for us to hear that students receive texts or Snapchats from one another as late as 3 am. Students regularly like and view Villa’s Instagram posts in the middle of the night. Walsh suggested that the best advice she can give parents right now is to make sure adolescents don’t take their phones to their rooms at night.

An article in the New York Times this week, On the Phone, Alone confirms that when adolescents don’t get enough sleep they are “really, really challenged to feel contented and peaceful and happy with the world around them.” A fascinating insight in this article is that parents have demonstrated intense concern for their children by trying to protect them from COVID, but honestly, a far greater risk to their children’s well-being is the impact of technology and social media.

Whenever I suggest to a student that she leave her phone on the kitchen counter at night to improve her sleep patterns, the most common response is “It's my alarm clock.” Perhaps the very best thing we can have on our school supply list for the fall semester is an actual, old-fashioned alarm clock! Restricting phone use at night might be the best thing you can do to support your daughter’s academic success next year. Let me know how I can help you in this endeavor. I’d even be happy to buy you an alarm clock.

Mrs. Jeannie Steenberge
Upper School Principal