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How to be your own child's teacher?

Updated: Oct 26, 2021

Being a parent and a teacher to our children are often seen as two separate role responsibilities. We sometimes see a lot of responsibility placed on ourselves when given this role as being the parent. Who's to say we need to be their teacher’s too? Don't we have schools for that and educators to run that gig? Honestly speaking, being a first-time parent to my 2 year old son, I literally had no clue where to start. I struggled with the whole mum thing.

I personally felt really overwhelmed with everything and I was so lost in all the parenting and motherhood books out there that with time ticking faster than ever before. My first year in being parent, gosh when I look back, it was a bittersweet affair. On one hand I had this beautiful baby boy who I absolutely loved more than anything and on the other hand I was always tired; Can you relate?

While trying to manage all of this, admittedly, I lost myself in the process. I was on maternity leave with my corporate job and paused my English tutoring business for a little bit so I could heal my body after giving birth and also find myself again. My brain missed the stimulation it used to have outside of baby life and I didn't know how to channel complex things into simple forms or strategies in being intentional with my son.

I would be on pilot mode for weeks on end. Getting through the 3-hour feed times and broken sleep patterns that almost lasted 2 years was the hardest I had to go through. It was only 4 months ago that my son started sleeping through the night. I was working full time, running an online teaching business and also trying to run a home, be a mum, be a wife all at the same time. I was always exhausted, and that’s when I started to see my mental and physical health decline.

Although I have helped hundreds of students achieve incredible English communication results, for some reason, I felt as though I failed in teaching my son the fundamentals of language and speech. It wasn't until a few months ago, my husband and I started to focus on his speech and language journey. I looked back all the months I had been communicating to him and nothing was sticking. He wouldn't say a word. Not one.

What I am about to tell you was something that made me truly realise that we are the best teachers for our children and I'll tell you why. Firstly, we know our children more than anyone. We know what sticks, what doesn't. We also know their strengths and weaknesses. Seeking professional help seemed like the logical thing to do when I started to worry about my son's speech development. He had never called me mum intentionally nor did he do any babbling. Without going into too much detail, my son was assessed on his speech and language and failed the tests that the Pediatrician had given us. I felt defeated as a parent at this point in time. As if everything I had been doing up until then wasn't good enough.

What I learnt from this is to never ever feel bad or discouraged about what you thought was okay rather look at previous and current processes and work towards improving them. Understand the root cause of the problems and try and identify the struggle points.

For me, I knew my son had weaknesses in some areas, but he also had incredible strengths in others. Remember, every child is different and learns differently too. By paying close attention to his way of processing and learning existing and new things, it helped me pay more attention to areas that I could improve in.

I focused on him in a different way. I started to look out for things that I knew he was struggling with and made conscious decisions to proactively improve them. Simple things such as patiently asking questions and leaving clues for him to visually see and attempt to understand what I wanted him to do actually helped him to learn and pay attention to any new learning cue.

Children are fascinating and even though we can get lost with all the information out there, you should remember that being a parent automatically qualifies you to being their teacher too. My husband and I have spent a lot of money on doctor appointments and specialists to find out that the answers to their questions, weren't really helping us but more guiding our own understanding on how to actually be a better teacher to our son. It's not until you go through the process and discover potential red flags that make you rethink everything you may have thought previously to be okay.

What this calls for is an opportunity to re-pivot and work towards helping your child and being more attentive to all their attributes. Remember, you are more in control of your child's learning and development than ever before. Don't lose heart, instead, be still and try and listen and pay attention to the areas that you can support your child with. You know what they are more than anyone else.

Cass xo

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