As a mother and Director of Operations of a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, I have to wear multiple hats daily. At times, I am a social worker, parent advocate, child advocate, referee, coach, career counselor, financial planner, mother, doctor, and friend. For me, it’s all in a day’s work. But for some mothers, it has become an easier task expecting others do OUR work. Though we mothers and caregivers teach through action 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we hold school teachers liable for our children’s successes or failures in the classroom setting.
Though our children are at school only 6 hours a day, and are at home 10-18 (depending on time at daycare), we are quick to assess teacher failings as the primary reason for OUR children’s challenges. Teachers are tasked with so many guidelines and benchmarks these days, some for 4-6 subject areas, that nurturing and protecting OUR children fail to make it on their list of things to do. Teachers, like many others in industry, are paid to produce. Their work is measured in outcomes. My prospective on teachers is that based on job requirements, quantity takes precedence over quality. For teachers, 7 out of 10 students must meet a benchmark, so keeping the attention of those 7 students for the next benchmark outweighs reaching the 3 students who struggle. And those 3 who struggle more than likely do so because of challenges they face with one or more life skill area:
- Decision making
- Problem solving
- Creative thinking/lateral thinking
- Critical thinking/perspicacity
- Effective communication
- Interpersonal relationships
- Self awareness/mindfulness
- Coping with stress, trauma and loss
We must understand that it is NOT the school’s responsibility to mold and shape OUR children. In fact, WE- MOTHERS AND CAREGIVERS are OUR children’s fist TEACHERS. Home is where OUR children learn life skills. And usually, if child struggles with problem solving, it is highly likely mother or caregiver struggles with problem solving. In fact, mother has been modeling behavior since the child was conceived, so little effort is needed to foster similar reaction patterns.
When my daughter was a toddler, I would often say “safety first” to her if her shoes weren’t tied. I would say “safety first” if she didn’t put her toys in her toy box. I used “safety first” to teach her many important lessons. Even in the car, I would say “safety first” as I buckled her into her car seat. As she got older, she understood that her safety was paramount above all else. When my daughter was at the age she no longer needed a car seat, it was second nature for her to put on her seat belt upon entering the car, and without any reminders or prompts on my behalf. I didn’t have to say a word because it was learned behavior. She really did learn it by watching me! That was many years ago, but the same premise is still true today.
Now, it appears that parents want teachers and schools in general, to teach their children about being safe and making good choices; to teach them life skills. Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten OUR responsibilities to protect and guide our children and to ensure their safety. We must take back OUR authority in the home, school, and community. There is an African Proverb that says “Secure the children first.” As parents and caregivers and teachers, we must remember OUR responsibilities to OUR children include providing them with positive life skills.
Please weigh in on this topic and let me know what you think. Who’s really TEACHING OUR children?
-Tasha White, Director of Operations