As a parent who recently started teaching again after having kids, I thought it may be of interest to know what goes on behind the school doors. You probably have a pretty good idea what your child is like after parenting them day in and day out, but what may surprise you, is that your little student acts a bit different in the classroom or around their peers. Read on to see what I observed as a mom, who also happens to be a Primary Teacher Librarian, that made me feel more content and validated as a parent.
STUDENTS TELL TEACHERS EVERYTHING…OR AT LEAST A LOT
But don’t worry, we don’t believe everything they tell us. When I asked a group of students if their parents ever read books, one boy replied “my dad does not read at all…actually I don’t even think he knows how to read”. Children share with their teachers copious amounts of information, some helpful, some not and some just downright hilarious. I think most teachers take it with a grain of salt, knowing that the truth may be stretched a bit every so often.
THERE ARE NO FILTERS
Along the same lines, kids really have no filter, especially the younger ones. What they are thinking usually comes out of their mouths. As teachers, we do our best to train them to keep some of their thoughts inside their head, but many times they just HAVE something they need share. I feel for my son’s teacher, as he struggles with keeping any word in his brain. Absolutely everything comes out!
And many times, what kids are thinking relates to appearance. If a teacher changes their hairstyle or wears something the kids haven’t seen, they are bound to hear about it. Like the one time a little Kindergarten girl exclaimed when she saw me “Mrs. Wright, what are you wearing?!? You look like you should be working at a restaurant!!”. That day I happened to be dressed in black pants and a white button down shirt. When I actually saw myself in the mirror later that day, I realized the girl spoke the truth, as all I was missing was an apron.
CHILDREN RIDE THE EMOTION TRAIN
If you are a parent, this one isn’t new. However, in observing it time and time again, I did realize something. We could learn from the kids on this one. They move from one feeling to the next pretty quickly. One minute a child can be as happy as can be and the next minute crying because something didn’t go their way. If you can distract them though, they can return back to happy in no time. In schools, you often see kids get easily frustrated when they don’t know how to do something properly or angry when their friends do something that disappoints them. However, they don’t stay with one feeling for long amounts of time. They bounce back. Think about a time in your adult life when you moved from a feeling as quickly. We tend to hold onto things a lot longer than we need to.
STUDENTS LEARN DIFFERENTLY
One of the first thing they teach new educators is that children learn in different ways. Some kids are visual, some are tactile, while others may learn best through movement. As a parent, I have definitely seen two different learning styles between my kids. One is very logical and while the other is spatial. While it extremely hard for the classroom teacher to teach every lesson taking into account all the learning types, the best ones recognize this and teach to a variety of them day in and day out. Parents can be proactive in sharing with their educators what works for their child and advocate for the learning approach that they have seen the most success from.
MOMS (AND DADS) GET THE HARDEST VERSION OF THEIR CHILD
I think the most eye opening thing I observed and evaluated as a teacher who also happens to be a parent was the shift that happens when a child’s parent picks them up. As soon as their mother or father arrives, there is almost an immediate change from a capable student to a whiny, needy individual. From asking for food to questioning and complaining about their schedule, the little humans turned into people I no longer recognized. Seriously, this was something universal I saw day in and day out from some of the sweetest and nicest kids. And in those moments, I started to realize that my own kids weren’t the only ones who did this. As parents, we often get the hardest and worst versions of our kids. Someone once told me, your kids keep it together all day and then when they see the comfort of your familiar face, they tend to act more “childish” so to speak.
OTHER KIDS ARE WAY EASIER TO CARE FOR THAN YOUR OWN
And finally, I struggled to figure out if I could return to teaching after having kids. I wondered if I still had the energy or the ability to do a good job, when my own kids barely listened and did the things I said. But low and behold, there is truth behind the fact children act differently when their parents are not around. They are less needy and way more obedient. They really do treat their teachers different from any other adult in their life. So as a parent you can know even if your child is being a mini jerk to you, more likely than not, they are not being a mini jerk at school. And if they are, good news, you will be the lucky one hearing about it first. Oh the joys of parenting.