Published: Jan 08, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Jan 08, 2013 06:12 PM
In October I sat in a circle with six other people who teach and love my granddaughter, Ayanna.
During our parent-teacher conference we shared the answers to a survey we had all filled out for each child. We asked questions like, Give an example of a time when you have seen Ayanna feel empowered at school? and What do you need in order for your school relationship with Ayanna to be stronger?
Sitting in the circle and listening to my granddaughters teachers share examples of her improved letter-writing skills and plant-identification mastery filled me with hope and gratitude. Each of these teachers knows that Ayanna wants to help with breakfast set-up every day and that it is really hard for her to sit down in her seat and listen to instructions. They have seen her grow from a 2year old toddler into someone who paints every morning before school starts.
This is what my granddaughter deserves. Its what all of our children deserve.
Resist the status quo that tells us that if we dont have $1,500 a month to send our children to an independent day school then we dont deserve what those schools have to offer.
All children should have a school garden and visit the science museum on a regular basis. All children should have a teacher who knows their unique skills and challenges and has the ability to help them discover new interests and talents. All children should be exposed to math, language, art, and science as tools for life exploration. All children should be able to run and play outside every day.
What it takes to make that happen in an educational climate that sometimes feels hostile to both kids and parents is the belief that each of us can become teachers. Teaching is a profession and a craft that requires years of education and practice. It is also the desire and ability to share your expertise with other people. Use that desire and ability to teach your kids, and your neighbors kids. While we may not know everything about a topic, the things you do know are valuable and worth sharing with our children.
During my journey of becoming a formal teacher in my granddaughters life Ive accumulated a list of must haves that I would like to share. Teaching is very hard work; dont do it alone.
Developing a community of people who want to teach is necessary for your sanity and the sustainability of any program you develop. The key to not getting burned out is sharing skills and talents that are important to you. Teach things you are good at and that you enjoy.
With the help of your community of teachers, develop a curriculum for your kids. Create enough flexibility in the curriculum so you can tailor it to what your children are excited about. Build time for daily, weekly, and monthly reflection.
Part of the learning process for both you and your children is taking the time to talk about what you did and letting yourself acknowledge how successful or terrible things turned out.
We can teach our own children, and we can do it with very little money. It requires a lot of planning and flexibility. You need to have a sense of humor and not be afraid to make mistakes along the way.
Remember that you should be learning just as much from the kids as they are learning from you.