You are your child’s primary teacher. The number one. The head honcho. The most important influencer in your child’s education.
As a teacher, this fact is both a beautiful and troubling thing. It’s beautiful because it makes sense and is extremely powerful when done with intentionality. It’s troubling because too few parents take that role seriously, which has some pretty adverse effects on my role. It’s also troubling because, as a teacher, no matter how much I love your child or how much time I spend investing in her, I will never have the impact you do.
That, for a teacher, is a little defeating.
We assume this fact can be a little troubling for parents as well. We live in a society that demands. Jobs, sports, social activities, religious functions, gym, errands, the list goes on and on. As the adult in your family, you have to prioritize what is most important or things begin to fall by the wayside. After a long day of running around, it can be easy to forget to go over your child’s homework. That email from the teacher? It can wait. You begin to rationalize your decisions. But as your child’s primary teacher, education has to be one of your top priorities.
How to be the Teacher Your Child Needs in the Midst of a Busy, Chaotic Life
- Demonstrate a Value for Education
If your child is sick, keep her home. But, if she’s not and there are no emergencies, send her to school. Make school important to your child by making it a priority that she is present and on time. Absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school year, which only takes about 15 accumulated days of school absences for your child to be considered “chronically absent”, putting her at-risk of falling behind (U.S. Department of Education). Parents, this includes all absences: excused and unexcused. And, in many districts, tardy minutes accumulate to absences as well. Make school a priority when your children are young to discourage truancy and absenteeism when they are older. Every minute counts. Talk positively about school and education. If you rip on your child’s teacher in front of him, it will impact the relationship your child has with that teacher. Take up any disagreements or concerns you have with your child’s teacher or school with the appropriate people, not your child.
- Make Education a Way of Life
“Every moment is a teachable moment”. Make this your mantra as a parent. If you are cooking in the kitchen, invite your child to read and measure the ingredients (This becomes a literacy and math lesson – double bonus!). If you are driving, allow your child to interpret Google maps and lead the way (This is a duel hitter too – literacy and geography!). When you’re in line at the grocery store, read headlines and labels with your child. Look for opportunities to teach your child life lessons, behavior lessons, and educational lessons.
Lead the Way
Whether its taught or not, we learn. Your children are learning, whether you’re teaching them or not. They learn just as much from what you don’t do as they do from what you do. We’ve already established that you have the most influence on your child of everyone. So, set the example. Let your child see you reading. Let your child see you writing. Read aloud. Write together. Have meaningful discussions.