Over in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group, Sabrina S. says, “I’m considering taking a new position that would leave me as the lead teacher in my daughter’s class. I’m curious who has taught their own children and would love to hear your thoughts and advice.”
If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know that your heart is pulled in different directions. You want to be an effective teacher yet you love your child and question if it would work teaching them every day. Other “parent-teachers” chime in to how they handled it, what worked and what didn’t.
It Was Awesome! Here’s Why…
There are lots of reasons having your child in your classroom is a great thing! For one, you know exactly what and how they are learning. As Jennifer R. points out, “I have a specific philosophy on education and am glad my children get that. I think I would have a hard time seeing my children in a more traditional classroom.”
Being your kids’ teacher is a great bonding experience. Kerri B. taught her son in third grade and said, “It was our special time together. Since he’s my middle child, we both enjoyed the year, bonding in that way.”
But how do you make it a good experience for all? Carol L. had a rule, “When the bell rang in the morning, they were just like any other kid in school.” On the other hand, Jennifer R. adds, “I don’t pretend that I’m not their mom while at school. I, of course, try to treat them the same as other students but I also give them mom love when needed.”
Factor In: Age & Personality
Of course, it takes more than just a willing spirit. It depends on the child, as well as the parent. As Peggy M. points out, “I had my grandson in class and it was great! I think it depends on personalities and how well the child will listen to you. I couldn’t have taught my youngest daughter; we both would have been miserable.”
Age is important, too. While kindergarteners might LOVE having mom or dad as their teacher, teenagers might have a different opinion. “I taught at my children’s high school, but I requested not having them in my room. I felt they needed their space,” says Maria G.
Finding Middle Ground: Favoritism vs. Being “Too Hard”
Most teacher-parents are hyper-aware of favoritism. They’d never want to be accused of showing special attention to their child. But how far is too far?
“I did tend to be a bit harder on my son because I had other students accuse me of favoring him. But if he had a problem with it, we talked about it after school,” says Kerri B.
“I taught my daughter in kindergarten. My biggest fault was expecting her to know things, always be ready, etc. I learned very fast how unfair I was being, so we had a secret signal—when she felt I was leaning more on her she would give me a thumbs up, and I got it. We ended up having a wonderful year full of special memories together,” says Carol H.
“I had a friend in elementary school whose dad was our teacher. He was SO hard on her to avoid accusations of being too easy on her. But I know some people can do it just fine!” says Toya R.
But Aren’t Kids Always WORSE for Their Parents?
Many teacher-parents worry about their child’s behavior, since kids tend to be more comfortable to “be themselves” around mom or dad. As Jennifer R. accurately points out, “While most children reserve their difficult moments for their parents, my kids have them during the school day with me.”
Then there’s always the inevitable we-don’t-want-to-share moments. “Both of my kids struggled initially with sharing their mom with other children, but they got used to it,” adds Jennifer.
“My mom was my teacher. I thought I could get away with anything…until I got my grades. She gave me what I deserved! For the rest of the year, I got As. Learned my lesson,” jokes Paige N.
What About Parent-Teacher Meetings?
Sometimes situations arise and you need to step aside. “There was a social issue in class that was particularly hard because as the teacher I could see the situation differently. But as a parent I was hurt and sad for my child,” says Jennifer R. “I knew I needed to step out of the equation and let my team teacher deal with it—with the other parents and my husband. It’s hard, but I try to stay out of social situations as much as possible and let the students solve their own problems.”
Even with the challenges, Jennifer adds, “I feel incredibly lucky to spend my workday with my children. I can’t imagine my children being anywhere else!”