Valley Voices

Teachers are not our co-parents, so step up, Moms and Dads

Teaching children to be kind and cooperative in class is the parents’ job, not the teachers’ responsibility, writes parenting columnist Jill Simonian.
Teaching children to be kind and cooperative in class is the parents’ job, not the teachers’ responsibility, writes parenting columnist Jill Simonian.

Back to school has brought excitement and earlier bedtimes to my house – it’s also brought me concern about changes happening now in education. Based on recent conversations (both friendly and for my work), orientations and afternoon reports from my own kids, it’s becoming alarmingly evident that so many of us parents are requiring our teachers to act as our co-parents in the classroom.

This school year, a variety of California school districts are implementing new programs that mandate classrooms take breaks throughout the day for students to “breathe,” among other things.

While I fully respect, appreciate and agree with much of the focused research driving this (Stanford University’s fascinating “Challenge Success” program being one of many), I can’t help but wonder why these programs are suddenly becoming so popular.

Then, right in the middle of my own kids’ Back to School Night weeks ago, it hit me: We must not be doing our job at home as parents.

I’m not a teacher, but I assume things must be significantly desperate if educators are grasping at new programs to keep our kids’ attention and behavior in check several times per day.

Based on the recent uptick of these kinds of initiatives, it seems we are failing to raise our kids with fortitude, confidence and age-appropriate self-regulatory skills to handle a day at school without requiring over-the-top wellness exercises.

If I’m right, we should be embarrassed. (By the way, I write this as someone who does count on taking restorative breaths to keep my work creative and productive throughout the day.)

I appreciate and value the positive advocacy and tactical push for these life skills in the classroom, but teaching these skills falls on us, as parents. An educator’s job should not have to include ongoing talks about kindness, age-appropriate behavior and/or how to manage stress when they’re under very serious, gun – involving limited state funding to teach academics.

How dare we dump this task on our overextended teachers’ piled-high plates and expect them to coach life skills as part of curriculum, as though they are our personal, appointed co-parents.

And if you don’t think that some of them commiserate and wonder why so many kids show up to school confused, angry, downright mean and/or out of control, think again.

If a child has ongoing behavior issues at school, we’d better look alive, step up and solve it at home with the same urgent attention we give to updating our Facebook and Instagram.

Give the morning pep talks, ask about what went wrong yesterday and how they’ll make it better today, brainstorm one small thing they can do every day to make their teacher’s day easier, give them a daily goal to focus on and work toward (and feel good about doing).

And, don’t forget the downtime – not every afternoon needs to be filled with art class, dance class, cooking class, soccer and beyond. Research shows that self-regulatory behavior is rooted in having downtime, too. (Yes, I’m including myself in this call to action.)

Teachers are our friends, supporters, most expert resources and cheerleaders. They are there for us when we need guidance, extra help, insight or a “try this at home” trick. But they are not, nor do they have enough time to be, our co-parents every single day.

Jill Simonian was born and raised in Fresno and was graduated from Sanger High School. She is creator of TheFabMom.com. Her book for first-time moms, 'The FAB Mom's Guide: How to Get Over the Bump & Bounce Back Fast After Baby' is available now. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @jillsimonian.

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