Parent or Teacher?
The Roles Of a Homeschool Parent
In Homeschooling there are a myriad of benefits. These benefits range from flexible scheduling, to creating family memories, to sleeping in! But in Homeschooling, like anything else, there are struggles and sometimes even pain. The struggle that we want to address today is the struggle parents face, specifically Mom’s, in being their child’s parent while also at the same time being their teacher.
There seem to be several clear differences between being a parent and being a teacher. For example doesn’t a teacher convey knowledge about the world around them? Doesn’t a teacher express facts, and evidence for how and why the world works the way it does? A parent on the other hand disciplines and corrects behavior. The teacher tests and evaluates progress. The Parent makes lunch and manages logistics. There is a difference between a classroom and a living room. A living room is where real life is happening, a classroom is where knowledge is being taught.
A False Conflict
This conflict though is really no conflict at all. This conflict of roles does have it’s own challenges but the two things do not need to be working against each other. Your role should start with being a parent and as a parent to come alongside your children in teaching, growing, maturing, and developing them.
Why is this a false conflict?
A parent’s goals should include, but are not limited to, character development, integrity, developing good habits, passing on values and acquiring life skills for the future. These are essential to good parenting. Along with these goals, attributes and goals is the knowledge that will help them succeed. All that you are doing as the parent is passing on knowledge! The content of parenting is essentially teaching. Parents teach there children in all arena’s of life. Parents have a profound impact on the development of their children because they are passing on to their children all kinds of knowledge. In mot traditional school settings it does not include nearly as much academic learning because they are receiving that from a school largely.
Therefore adding “education” as traditionally understood fits right into the life of the family. When you tell your child to look both ways before crossing the street, you are teaching your child to be safe, wise, prudent. The same is happening when you are teaching them about science, or nature, or history. You are teaching them knowledge that will allow them to succeed in life, well maybe science doesn’t count then! 😉 (just kidding parents!)
The best parents are teachers, and the best teachers are parents.
Cultivating a Life of Learning
How do we then move forward knowing that we are the best teachers for our kids? How do we create a vision and plan for the education of our children?
This is a big question and the answer is far outside the bounds of this post, but we can give you broad directions one where to start and goals you can seek to achieve.
1) Learning isn’t a scheduled time, learning is an attitude.
Children are always learning. Children are learning when you are busy preparing a meal, or rushing out the door for work, or handling a grocery shopping trip. Children are learning through watching, listening, interacting, observing, exploring, discovering, and even getting in trouble. Learning is all the time.
Instead of living in the mindset that learning is primarily taking place during your “Homeschooling Day”, be in the mindset that life is full of opportunities to learn. So when you are having to discipline your child, they are learning. Discipline and life management are just as much teaching as going through your history lesson. If you cultivate an attitude and family culture of learning you will see that you aren’t switching roles all the time, you are staying in one role, the role as parent. The content changes and the manner in which you teach it changes but your role stays the same.
2) Parenting with an attitude of mentorship.
At the core of this conflict between being a parent or being a teachers is the question of how to handle a child that isn’t succeeding in the classroom and knowing how that effects other parts of their life. If a child is lazy in school work should this impact your handling of them with your chores? Does that seem fair?
Establishing a relationship of mentorship with your children is vitally important to their growth and development. A relationship of mentorship provides several benefits. Your child will be given ‘space’ to grow and even fail because they know that you want them to succeed. It develops a relationship of communication between you and your child. It allows for you as the parent to explain why your child is being disciplined and that it is for their sake that you discipline them. Along with those benefits the one that is relevant to our discussion is that whatever the context, you are seeking to grow and develop their character. Every situation, task, or goal is a context for your child’s character to reveal itself and with those context their is always an opportunity to develop your child’s character.
Mentorship provides the healthy communication and goal-setting that every child needs.
As a Homeschooling family you should not see yourself as playing two roles. You are their parent and that includes the responsibilities of being their teacher. But this is not a conflict in roles. If you become a mentor to your children you will realize that every situation is an opportunity to grow and develop their character. Meaning whether they are doing their school work or playing a family game you can grow and mentor them.
As a Homeschool parent you have the unique opportunity to not only mentor them while they are doing family activities and living normal life but to mentor and grow their minds. What a joy we have as parents to come alongside our children in all areas of life.
The parent and teacher roles for you are one role and that is being their parent. Loving, growing, maturing, teaching, disciplining, mentoring your children to be people of integrity and to share your values while wrestling with life’s challenges. This is your opportunity and although it can be difficult, it is also full of joy and the rewards are worth the challenges that come your way.