As a sixteen-year veteran and locally recognized guru of educating children in the home, perhaps the most common and emphatic proclamation that I hear from other parents is, “I could never teach my children.” What parents don’t realize is that they do teach their children every single day — I might add, without due credit.
From the day your child is born, you perform four parental duties consistently: you love your child, you protect your child, you nurture your child, AND you TEACH your child. As a matter of fact, in the crucial developmental years (birth to five) you teach your children almost everything they learn. You teach your children how to walk and talk, how to socially interact and behave, how to eat with a fork and cut with a knife, how to color between the lines, how to catch a ball, how to tie shoes — and the list goes on and on and on.
So think about that — parents are already teachers, simply by the fact that they are parents. Then why is it that parents experience such difficulty recognizing their innate ability to teach their children? Frankly, in my opinion, there is no one better suited to teach a child than that child’s parent. The very same way there is no one better suited to love, nurture, and protect a child than that child’s parent.
As a modern society, in most cases, we are very willing to recognize that optimal raising of a child results when loving, nurturing, and protecting that child is left up to the parents; however, for no apparent reason, we stop short at teaching a child. It truly is a shame that our society doesn’t recognize the important role that parents play in teaching their children and likewise, the important role that the home plays in their children’s education.
We see from looking back into the history of schooling that hundreds of years ago, the majority of children learned in the home. Wealthier families sometimes employed private tutors to do the job; however, for the most part, parents were responsible for teaching their children. Public schools didn’t start popping up until the mid-nineteenth century, concurrent historically with the industrial revolution. With more women working outside of the home in factories, public schools served the purpose of providing education for those children in families whose economic hardships required both parents to work outside of the home. Public schools provided the basics of an education for children because parents became too busy to be the sole provider of education, not necessarily because those parents lacked the capability to teach. Also, at that point in our history, public schools were never intended for all children — they were intended only for those children whose parents were forced to work outside the home.
The meaning and purpose of public schools, as well as private schools, may have been somewhat distorted or lost in the last two centuries. First of all, it seems that it has become the assumption and the general rule that every child — by law — must be enrolled in a school. As a result, parents have become somewhat programmed to believe that: 1.) Parents are not qualified to teach their children what they academically need to know after the age of five, and 2.) The onus should be solely on schools to provide an education for children, and they do the best job of it. These beliefs simply are not true. Schools have served their purpose and continue to serve their purpose; however, the existence of the institution of schools by no means equates to parents being incapable of teaching their children academics nor does the institution of schools inevitably ensure a quality education for children enrolled in them.
Obviously, as virtual strangers caring for 20+ children in a classroom, teachers simply do not have the vested interest in children that parents do. Parents seem to understand this; therefore, when they drop their five-year-old at the doorstep of their local elementary school they realize that they must continue to love, protect, and nurture that child in the home to ensure a healthy, well-adjusted human being. For some reason, though, they don’t consider teaching that same child in the home, to ensure a well-educated human being too. This inconsistency seems to make no sense.
Most parents are very concerned and often complain about the quality of the education that their children are receiving, but seemingly don’t feel confident enough in their teaching abilities to do anything about it. Parents need to feel empowered by understanding that they absolutely can teach their children and that they have a track record that proves it.
At what level a parent chooses to become involved in their children’s education is a highly personal decision and should be made with careful thought and consideration based on the individual family situation. The level could be as dedicated as homeschooling children full-time or as casual as supplementing a conventional school path with educational activities in the home. Whichever of these two levels of involvement in a child’s education that a parent may choose, I can guarantee that the outcome will be a positive one. There are so many wonderful tools and resources available to help parents teach their children that they need only to find the courage and the conviction within themselves. Once they do so, the results will be astounding!
Teaching your children shows your willingness to take an active role in their education and illustrates the importance of it. This interest on your part will help to inspire a love of learning and a deep-rooted respect for the value of education that will lead to the growth of confident individuals, creative thinkers, and independent learners, who will seek knowledge with passion and zeal throughout life.
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