Having a pandemic has not been easy even for those of us who have been able to avoid getting sick. It has been especially difficult for parents. With the expectation for parents to assume the role of educator, cook, disciplinarian, cheerleader, health care provider, encourager and friend, everyday can be a major challenge.
While many of these roles are expected of parents at any time, right now these tasks are all consuming. This is especially true for moms. While it is hopeful to see expectations for parents going down with the epidemic slightly decreasing. However, we are not yet sure that some of these demands might lessen. We see the variants of COVID-19 that might be increasing and then we aren’t sure things are getting better.
No matter where we are in this pandemic, the job that parents have been doing deserves recognition and applause. It isn’t easy being a parent any time but especially when it has all the expectations that we currently include in being an adequate parent today.
Take a look at what you have been doing and rate yourself honestly. Let’s start with educator. Yes, this can be a full time job. Not only a full time job but one that trained teachers have spent several years learning how to do and now, today, you are being expected to be your child’s teacher.
You have always been expected to be your child’s teacher — and you have been doing it. This is why we call parents their child’s “first teacher,” because you are. You have always been your child first teacher in the earliest years of a child’s life. You are the one who teaches them about going to bed at the right time and to eat the correct food. You teach your child about smiling, saying thank you, to be polite, how to play with the dog, to not throw food, to follow the book you read to him, to pick up toys, to say “hi,” to change clothes and a lot of other things.
But now there are some additional responsibilities. As you approach the years when your child will be going to kindergarten and the early grades of school, we add what children should know and who should help teach it. You are now officially their teacher.
Fortunately, the schools recognize your importance to teaching your children. The schools are reaching out to you to give you help with what a child should know in kindergarten or any grade after that. With each year the responsibilities become greater. You probably question whether you can do it but you can. You really have been doing it now for over a year.
Have you taught your child as well as when your child is in regular school? That is a tough question. You don’t have the teacher’s training. You do not have as much time at this job of teaching as your child’s teacher has.
But don’t negate the good of what you have been doing. Without your help your child would be further behind. Just think about what your child has been taught by you.
Just by reading books your child is laying the foundation to become a reader. When you explore the bushes outside and find the insects your child is learning new things. The counting you do each day from books or even at dinner time are all increasing the math skills your child is learning.
Hopefully, the books you are reading together are increasing your child’s knowledge and reading skills. See how many words you can wait for your child to read rather than for you to read them. Even skipping words like “the” that begins many of the sentences you read together may be a new word he now knows.
Learning is everywhere. Even if schools begin to be in session it will take your help in getting your child caught up with what he should know by now. So do not just stop being a teacher. Your child needs your help to catch up.
Next week we will discuss other ways you should be proud of what you are doing to teach your child to make up for what is slowly happening today in school. Keep up the good work you are doing and the many things you are teaching your child. Make sure you give your child a hearty hug for what he or she is doing.
Letting your child know how pleased you are with his progress is really worth your time and effort.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. For more information, email to email@example.com or call 360-681-2250.