27: Parents as Teachers
As we begin this school year, I hope we will each be encouraged by meditating on how God has created us to be teachers. As the wise bumper sticker says: Every parent is a teacher, but not every teacher is a parent.
A. Parents are Uniquely Designed
God creates a man and a woman in His image, makes them one in marriage, and commissions them to multiply and have children. God calls the father and mother to train, teach, and nurture their sons and daughters. When God calls, he equips. Moses questioned his qualifications, but God knew His man. Moses’s unique background equipped him to lead the children of Israel into the promised land. Parents are uniquely designed to teach and train their children.
B. Parents are Divinely Motivated
Every father and mother desires to see their children live a good long life. They want their sons and daughters to possess skills that will enable them to succeed in life. No one is as motivated as a parent. Being a mom or a dad is not a job, it is a life calling.
Parents do not need academic qualifications to teach their own children. If a mom and dad are willing to learn along with their kids, they will make fine teachers. Even though I had a college diploma and had taught in a classroom setting, I knew that as we taught our own children I would need to learn real phonics, a creation view of science, and a providential approach to history. All of this was new to us, but Sandi and I were willing to learn along with our boys.
Parents know how their student learns, and much of what he knows. I call this the Deuteronomy advantage, since you are with your children when you rise up, walk by the way, and lie down. Since you have read most of the books and watched most of the movies that they have, you know what they know.
On the way to a Fourth of July parade, my six-year-old asked why we were celebrating this day as a holiday. I was able to weave an account of the history of our nation using movies I knew he had seen (The Story of a Patriot) and places I knew he had been (Bunker Hill and Williamsburg), so that he could understand. Even David Barton couldn’t have taught any better than I did, because I knew my son.
Parents can adapt the curriculum to the student’s style of learning. Sandi began teaching our sons with traditional textbooks and worksheets, but she saw that this one-dimensional form of teaching was not what her sons needed. Because my wife wanted her sons to love learning, she chose to teach with Konos (a hands-on unit study approach). The boys moved from repainted desks purchased at a yard sale to the woods, the garage, and the kitchen. All three boys have since graduated from college, and one has gone on to earn two master’s degrees. They are accomplished life-long learners, thanks to a mom who was willing to adapt and learn along with them.
C. Parents are Tutors
Tutors are more effective and more efficient as they teach individuals one-on-one, instead of managing a classroom of twenty or thirty as a group. A tutor has the freedom to teach a student based on what the student knows, and not by how old he or she is. A tutor also moves at the child’s pace and not at the textbook’s pace. Whether a student is gifted or challenged, a tutor can adapt the material for each individual.
When you are with your children, you have unique opportunities to apply and reinforce what your children are learning. I received a call from an excited mom who had been baking cookies with her daughter. As they took the warm cookies out of the oven, they noticed they were in rows of three. They had been studying skip counting by three that morning , so they began counting the cookies: “3-6-9-12-15.” Here is real life application that only a parent who teaches math – and cooking – can do.
While a good classroom teacher may possess many of these traits, their success will depend on how much flexibility they have, the number of students in each class, and their ability to spend a few minutes with each individual student during the course of the day. Most professional instructors are convinced of the superiority of the tutor model. Institutions of higher learning may boast about their teacher/student ratio being fifteen to one, but only parents have achieved the ideal ratio of one to one.
- Parents are created, called, and equipped to teach and train their children.
- Parents are specially qualified and incredibly motivated to see their children succeed.
- Parents are tutors, not classroom managers.
- Parents make wonderful teachers. Rejoice in your unique gifts and enjoy the journey!
May God bless you each as you begin a new adventure of learning along with your children.