s parents who are also teachers we understand how important it is for parents to take responsibility in the education of their children. We also know how valuable it is for parents to support those who are working with their children in the school setting. Here are ten things we have learned and continue to learn as we live out these dual roles ourselves.
1. Begin building a foundation early. Enrich your child’s world with a love for learning at a young age. Share books as adventures to be explored and treasured. We have found that even an older child still loves to have you read at bedtime! Integrate learning experiences throughout everyday life. At a young age this can be as simple as counting stairs as you walk them, playing rhyming games as you ride in the car, or pointing out letters and numbers as you grocery shop. With an older child you can have them help figure out math calculations as you shop or talk about current events as you listen to the news. The more building blocks a child has to take with him/her to school, the stronger the educational structure will be.
2. Celebrate your child’s educational successes. Be a fan of your child. Develop a wall of fame for each child. We look through each week’s work with our son and let him choose what he would like on the kitchen bulletin board. Celebrate milestones reached and obstacles overcome. Help your child define what is successful to him/her.
3. Learn from your own mistakes and help your child learn from mistakes. Be authentic so that your child realizes that you are not perfect and that mistakes do not need to be failures. This safety net helps to relieve undue pressure for a child that can hinder their self-esteem.
4. Be a part of your child’s classroom and support your child’s teachers. Working full time does not allow us to volunteer in our child’s classroom as much as we would like, but we do look for opportunities to volunteer on occasional days off, save personal days for special field trips, and send in supportive materials that may be helpful to the learning themes in the classroom. We also try to remember that notes and words of encouragement to your child’s teachers not only show their value to your own child, but also that you wish to be a positive partner with your child’s teacher.
5. Value the learning process and make your home an extension of your child’s classroom. Stay informed of what your child is currently learning so you can reinforce this at home. Take time to discuss with your child what is being taught and show how important this learning is to real life experiences. Show enthusiasm to what your child finds interesting and encourage your child to see the positives and importance of the material that may not be as interesting or may even be more difficult to learn.
6. Teach your child the value of making right choices and don’t be afraid to let your child experience natural consequences for choices. Remembering that we all can learn from mistakes can take away the instinct that we all want to protect our child from every unpleasant experience. A bad test grade can be a motivation to work on better study habits or pay more attention to directions. It is important to support the discipline of the school and not look for excuses to get your child out of the consequences of his/her own choices.
7. Help your child develop responsibility and organizational skills. From a young age you can demonstrate organization by helping your child keep homework materials and library books in specific places, by daily looking over assignments, studying for tests together, and discussing items needed for upcoming assignments. As your child grows, help set timelines for getting assignments completed and make sure homework is finished each evening. Praise and even reward responsible choices!
8. Actively oversee the development of a well-rounded educational experience. Seek to recognize your child’s gifts and talents and engage your child in activities that will challenge your child to develop and use these. Remember that children need outlets for exercising social skills and time to run and play too! Try to avoid the pitfall of running from one activity to another and not having time to spend together as a family and time to just be a kid! Keep your activities in balance and make sure that your child has input into which ones are important to maintain.
9. Purposefully engage in your child’s world. Take the time to know your child’s teachers and coaches. Share with all who are a part of your child’s world how much you appreciate what they contribute as they help train up your child. Get to know your child’s friends and make your home a gathering place where they wish to be.
10. Model for your child that learning is a lifelong process. Demonstrate your desire to continually learn and develop your own knowledge, skills, and talents. Teach your child that the most successful people are always learning and finding ways to apply that knowledge. We hope that sharing a little glimpse into some of the things we have learned and are continuing to learn as parents who are also teachers will help encourage you along your own journeys as the important partners you are in the education of your children.
Andy Frudd works full-time as Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at Bemus Point United Methodist Church. He also works part-time for Bethel Baptist Christian Academy as a teacher and guidance counselor. Ruth Frudd is a kindergarten teacher at Chautauqua Lake Central School. They have one son, Timothy, who is in the fifth grade.