Let's think about parents as teachers. A typical parent might frown, fondly recalling his or her own absolutely perfect first or second grade teacher and think, "I can't teach like Mrs. Grabell."

The comparison comes too late! You may not feel like a teacher, but after having one-syllable conversations with your child all day, you have taught, taught, taught. You are a one-room schoolteacher, with that room being your kitchen, dining room, den, or car. Your role is also little different than that of the classroom teacher, who sometimes desperately flees to the coffee lounge after a day of one-syllable interaction with six-year-olds. The teacher teaches reading words, addition, and subtraction. You have taught your child to speak, along with numbering things and counting. You have taught values, beliefs, and skills. Your child, at 5, has a spoken vocabulary of hundreds of words.

"Debby, go get another spoon for the table." See, you have already been instrumental in teaching words, pronunciations, and tasks described by words. You have taught all these words with difficult inflections, pronunciations, and meanings. You have taught how to put words together to communicate, a multi-step task. A classroom teacher shows your child how to work with words on paper. But you can also help with that. The transition from spoken words to written words is less difficult to learn than the initial language skills you have introduced to your child.

You have already been teaching for 5 years when your child reaches school age. Whether you choose to homeschool or send your child to school, you are  well-prepared and well-qualified to teach and/or reinforce school lessons.

Parents teach with words, gestures and expressions, as well as by acceptance or rejection of the child's behavior. From birth, you, grandparents, and others have taught the child hundreds of thousands of speech patterns, ideas, facts, concepts, values, behaviors, and skills. However, a parent carries the earliest and greatest teaching burden.

Following a mother to the grocery store with her child, we catalog the values, attitudes, and skills that are taught. Driving there, she fastens the child in the car seat. "Oh, let's make you safe." Safety is an important concept, a value. En route, she hums. The child learns that shopping is an enjoyable experience. "See the truck! Can you say tr-u-ck?" mom asks.This introduces the Tr blend and teaches language and word development. Pause. "Good. You tried," she says. "Very good. You are a smart boy." Her attitude suggests that learning is a good thing.

"Oh, red light! We stop!" Another safety lesson. "My, the parking lot is full. We'll have to walk a long way. Good thing it isn't raining." Here, Mom teaches capacity, distance, and weather.

She straps her little one in the shopping cart. Safety again. "So, is this the visit where you buy something?" (Once every five trips to the store, the child gets a nickel to spend. That way he isn't begging every visit.) "Or is it only four?" She holds up four fingers, counting days and numbers. "Next time you get to spend." Next is a positional word.

The child is also working on memory. He had one more visit to go until the fifth trip. Mom reassures, "Well, you can look today. Let's go to cereal first. What was it we decided to buy?" That's another memory exercise. "Oh, here we are at cereals, and jam is right across the aisle." This is practice in categorizing. "Should we get the big box? Oh, there's the orange box. Does it feel full?"

You just never stop teaching. But here's a caution--two things you must remember. One is that there will be days when you and your child are tired at the same time, or catching a cold at the same time or being grouchy at the same time. There will be times that you will not be patient or attentive. Second, know when to turn teaching off, or you will find yourself saying to your husband or wife, "Oh, did you have a long trip home? Did you make one or two stops?"

Plan a quiet time for yourself, a time to listen to music or sit on the porch thinking. Maybe do this when your child naps. It will help recharge your battery and patience.

And when your child is ready for pagework, School Zone materials sequence skills carefully, easy before difficult. We give simple and consistent directions you can repeat. We give examples you can lead your child through, and we put just soooo much on a page. We give the child white space and a friendly character to keep her company as the activity is completed.

Aren't you glad you met us?