Parent and teacher: How to seamlessly play both roles

Family & Relationships

by Sandi Coufal, RN

Aug 25, 2020

As Barbara Bush once said, “The home is the child’s first school, the parent is the child’s first teacher and reading is the child’s first subject.” 

Nine years. This June was the start of our ninth year homeschooling. and while we have had successes throughout the years, we have also had challenges. This year has been no different. 

There is no teacher and parent. Instead, we are simply a parent and in everything we do, we teach our kids.

When I talk to other parents about homeschooling, one thing that always comes up is that they were not able to actually teach their child. There is no mention of time constraints or not being knowledgeable enough to teach them, but simply that they could not play the role of a teacher. 

One thing I have found is that there is no teacher and parent. Instead, we are simply a parent and in everything we do, we teach our kids. 

We play both roles on a daily basis — when we go to the grocery store and talk to them about prices and ingredients in certain foods, when we give them advice on how to handle difficult situations and when we listen, discuss and embrace everything that happened to them that day. We play both roles seamlessly, but not without some help. 

In order to be successful both inside and outside of the learning environment, follow these tips and tricks:

Have fun

Learning should always be fun, no matter what age you are teaching.

Be flexible with your time 

Understand that you don’t need to set aside a full 8 hours a day for education, and it does not have to be done at a set time. Every day is different because every day you and your children are different.

Related: 5 ways to help your child adapt to a new normal

Foster some freedom 

Allow your children to help pick what lessons and activities they are going to do that day. This will help them to be more invested in their education and want to learn.

Give them 5

Taking a break is okay — you have bad days, and your kids have bad days. Take a day off and go outside and explore. This still counts as learning, gets you some much needed Vitamin D and allows your children to see you through a different light.

Find your people 

Find a homeschool group or co-op that works for you and what you need. Remember, you’re not alone in this. 

Utilize all outside resources 

It’s important to tell yourself that you don’t have to know it all. I still take to the internet to look up how to do algebra problems for my freshman, and I was good at algebra many moons ago!

Double check

Find out the laws in your state for homeschooling. This will help to dictate what you teach, how you teach it and when you teach it.

Partner up 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There may be another mom or dad who is very good at one subject and you may be very good at another — teach together! This will give your children time with friends, and it will give you time with those that understand your struggles the most. If you’re not able to meet up with anyone in person, you can still share ideas and tips with one another or even set up virtual group lessons.

Find your child’s groove

It is okay to tailor your child’s education to them, not to the preset curriculum. Do what is best for your child. It is the parent’s prerogative.

Related: 7 ways to encourage your child’s learning

Give yourself a pat on the back 

You deserve it! Learning is a lifelong process and children learn on their own time. Don’t be discouraged if your child is nine and still not reading. Allowing children to learn on their timetable shows them that you care about them, not about a preset condition of learning.

Learning should always be fun, and if your child is tired from being on the computer all day, make them dinner and dessert, play with them and do their homework with them. 

You are your child’s first and best teacher, so do what you feel is best for them and in the end, they will love you for it. 

Good luck and happy homeschooling!

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About the Author

Sandi Coufal, MSN, RN, CPN, is a nursing administration supervisor at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children's Medical Center.

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