Everyone has heard at least once in their life that “ Education starts at home.”
It’s true. It starts at home and should continue at home.
However, the unfortunate reality is that it does not.
What is even more unfortunate is that I do not believe that parents even realize when they stop intentionally teaching their child(ren).
The Usual Process
Education at home typically starts with reading nightly before bed.
Then, it transitions into identifying objects, foods, colors, and animals.
Somewhere in between, how to say mom and dad is taught.
Next, it’s on to the alphabet and maybe even numbers.
Finally, parents teach children their names (or at least I hope ); How to spell them and write them.
And of course, the assumption is that manners, rules, and how to care for oneself is included.
But at what point do parents stop teaching their child(ren)?
By teaching, I mean intentionally setting aside time to focus on a skill and or subject that your child could use knowledge on, improvement in or just a review of?
At the elementary level, I believe that parents stop around second or third grade.
By third grade students are well immersed in the school setting, know their name, can identify numbers and letters. They are able to read, write, spell and do basic math to different degree levels. They can speak well enough to articulate their wants and needs and they can care for their basic personal needs.
But do they know enough for education to only occur between the hours of 7 and 4?
Have they been exposed to enough to be able to make informed life decisions at their level?
My 92 year old great grandmother has been comfortably doing life with a 7th grade education.
She has been able to do so because of the lessons learned at home at a young age.
After her father and family’s sole provider died, she had to understand societal issues that dealt with economics and race, help with her siblings, learn to cook, work in fields, shop at the market, and save.
Her experience is one that required her to leave school early to ensure survival.
But had the school system been her sole educator, would she have made the life that she has for herself?
Mainly because she was not able to finish school and partly because school can only cover so much.
I have fifth graders that can not tell me their parents’ full names, their home addresses or pick up the phone in the classroom without needing me to look up their parents number first.
This is simply not ok.
As a teacher, yes it is the educators job to teach curriculum, build relationships, engage and dare I say it even entertain to make learning fun.
The bottom line though is that : Education should be a partnership between three parties.
The school system ( State, local admin at the district and school levels and teacher).
Here are a few ways to help on your end:
Observe and converse with your child to learn new things about them
This will take 10 minutes out of your day and will reveal interests and areas that can use refining. It will also allow you to discuss current events and how they affect your child, family and community.
Engage with things happening academically
Sign up for a school committee, volunteer in the classroom, check your child’s teachers website for news, events, and curriculum information.
You should know what your child is learning at each grade level.
Get your child a tutor
Yes, teachers will provide tutoring at the district’s discretion. Most of the time this is closer to standardized testing time. If you notice an academic area that your child is struggling in, seek services that will help them grow. There are free programs.
Teach them the basics and practice with them
Students should come to school knowing how to spell their names. They should know your real name and how to spell it, their home address, and that they should not give it out. Your child should know your phone number by heart and that of another family member if you can not be reached.
Also, they should know that education is important and that theirs is important to you. Read with them, help with homework, watch movies and documentaries, and have open discussions.
Your child should understand how to use money, they should have practice making transactions on grocery store runs with you. They should be taught how to save and how to tithe. They should also understand the basics of credit and as they grow, learn new aspects of how credit works and affects them.
Your child should know what they believe in and how to stand on the principles of Christ. They should be able to apply lessons learned in Sunday School and Bible study to the challenges that they will face at school or in everyday life situations.
School is where many kids meet their first friends( outside of siblings, cousins, and neighbors). It is where they grow socially and learn how to interact with different age groups and personalities. It is where they witness and experience the cultures of others.
In light of current world issues and events, it is important that parents understand that at home is where students learn acceptance of others, how to treat and talk to people, and how to navigate the world with an open mind.
Education starts and ends with you. But we ( teachers) are happy to do our part!