MOM,DAD,TEACHER: Help Me Achieve Me!

The music the teacher is playing was written by one of the students.

A Preamble: There is so much criticism and outright political abuse of our education system and teachers that this author wishes to assure prospective readers that this is NOT another one of those mindless and highly prejudiced attacks. This author has spent a good part of his life as a children and family therapy worker with considerable time in both classrooms and homes. So what is written below comes from first-hand knowledge and exposure. It’s about a lot of wonderful resources that are either misapplied or overstressed (teachers, parents and CHILDREN).

Every child is unique, and by the time they arrive for their first day of school they have added to their genetic profile their individual family imprint. Both their educational and social experiences in their elementary school years will further define their intellectual and behavioral profiles, but not exclusively. What the child’s home-life is like can either enrich and encourage that blossoming intelligence or actually discourage, even undermine it.

Regarding a child’s home-life experiences the above is not implying that if his or her intellectual development regresses that it is due to intentional acts by parents or older siblings. In most cases it results from poor encouragement or the total absence thereof. Commanding, “do your homework, now” is not encouragement. It is actually a dismissal of parental involvement.

Yes, the above comes across as overly simplified opinions that seem to ignore the complexity of family life in today’s culture. Therein resides a major cause that affects a child’s intellectual growth and maturity. How can we address it?

The Critical Venue: The life venue of a child is never standard. Like the child, it is unique and remains such despite efforts by parents and others (teachers and friends) to seek to mold a child to fit a certain pattern. The challenge is to encourage the child’s individual development while providing good behavioral and intellectual support. This is a process that begins with just the family and expands to include the array of human influence. The support that is provided by the parents is critical because it provides the child with both self-confidence and a set of rules that help the child move forward while resisting misleading distractions from outsiders. This is not an easy task for parents, particularly if there are more children in the household.

To be supportive while encouraging a child’s growing independence and self-confidence takes a lot of individual effort by the parents (sometimes older siblings too). In today’s working family environment this is even more demanding and difficult. As a result there is the spillover effect where teachers are faced with providing some of the normal parental support. This latter situation is untenable. Teachers just cannot pick up the slack despite their desire to try to help. In many instances this produces an atmosphere of mutual resentment between frustrated parents and even more frustrated teachers. Most serious, is the effect it can have upon the child’s intellectual and behavioral development.

The Family Partnership: Both parents are vital in the process of rearing a child, but the role of the mother is both emotionally and biologically stronger. Regardless, the child should feel secure in that both parents are equal and trusted resources. This is strengthened by the very manner in which the parents work as a team in the child rearing process. Yes, single parent families or families where a supportive partnership does not exist gravely reduces the effectiveness of parental support and guidance. This is not to say that many single parent families do manage well, but this is often due to outside supportive resources. The child responds behaviorally and intellectually (good or poor school performance). When stresses across the family increase there is  a parallel decrease in the child’s developmental progress. Problems, intellectual and behavioral, crop up in school; adding a new element of stress between teacher, child and parents.

  • Note: If you feel a knot growing in your stomach as you read the two paragraphs above, then you know exactly what this is all about. Be assured, that as I write and read the above, I also get knots in my stomach.  If we are parents, then to varying degrees, we have experienced some of what is cited above.

As stated above, in most families today, both parents work full-time. Regardless of their motivations to work as partners in rearing their offspring, there is both extreme daily time limitations and the simple ability of the parents to put the utmost into their relationships with their child or children after a demanding and tiring work day. If the partnership is active and strong then alternating which parent gives full attention to the child can help both alleviate fatigue stress and give full support to the child. There is no hard and fast rules here. How such a plan works depends on the unique partnership plan the parents have established. Such plans are very specific with regard to each parents work regimen and hours. They can only deal with variances in work schedules if they are a fully committed parental partnership.

A major factor that can reduce stress and increase the effectiveness of a given family plan, is the inclusion of the child. Children are very sensitive to the emotional environment around them and when they are excluded, they worry and their stress levels increase. Insuring that the child feels included has a tremendous benefit in his or her cooperativeness and strengthens their sense of membership in the family. Encouraging them to speak up on family issues, even those involving only the parents, may seem to invite distractions, but actually enriches the entire child-rearing process. We should never underestimate the observational powers of children and the often amazing and highly relevant comments and suggestions they can make. As they become participants, they more strongly feel the parents love because they are encouraged to openly express their concerns and love. It is a powerful family adhesive.  In this regard, when a parent exclaims to a child, I need you, or I need you to do this for us, the child that is an included member of the family team responds positively and cooperatively.

Creative Spark: There is a great deal of both information and speculation about the creative spark and how to detect and nurture it. Unfortunately it is quite often presented in such a way that it seems to exclude children that seem  intellectually challenged (more crudely termed: dumb).Yes, there are definite variations in a child’s intellectual strengths, but that does not rule out the creative spark. The problem is, if the child is classed by both family and teachers as”slow”, then that spark is never even looked for, much less nurtured. The bright child’s creative spark is loud and noticeable so-to-speak. Parents and teachers will not be able to ignore it. In fact, the adults often tend to downplay those sparks as being too aggressive (noisy, insistent, etc). The change then must come as a universal attention and support of this creative energy from ALL children. The creative spark is vital. It is the cognitive expressway that helps accelerate the learning process; especially in the case of special needs children. In ALL children this expressway optimizes how a child processes new information because it leads to a highly receptive cognitive area of the brain. Nurturing this expressway also empowers the child to begin to enhance their inherent curiosity and to then begin independent exploration: self-learning.

Ancient Prejudices vs Active Listening: Most parents have dreams for their children’s future and those dreams are a strong motivation to nurture the creative spark. Unfortunately many parents project some of their own “missed opportunities” into their plans for their offspring’s future.  When the child’s interests and exploratory behaviors are in conflict with those parental goals there can be direct discouragement by the parents. This discouragement is rarely negative. It is more often expressed as advocacy for the child’s future that fits the parents unfulfilled dreams. In many cases the child adheres to parental advice and follows a described course (education, sports, art, music, etc). Often this is in direct conflict with the creative spark the child has displayed. These parental influences, based upon the parents unfulfilled goals, are regarded as prejudices against a child’s expressed interests.

None of the above is intended to criticize wise counsel from parents where the child has confused on unattainable goals. Wise counsel, however, is most effective where there is active listening by the parent. This allows them to detect that creative spark, and begin to actively nurture it. In this arrangement, the child becomes the explorer with support from parents. In many cases this involves both parent and child jointly investigating the child’s expressed interests and goals. Furthermore, engaging teachers in this process further insures a growing support for the child’s successful and essentially independent development. WARNING! Some teachers and some education systems are so forcefully structured by regulations (vs theory and practice) that a new barrier presents itself. Here is where the parent is vital. They must not let a distorted system discourage their child’s potential.

The Learning and Inspiration Team: Ideally the process of nurturing and supporting a child’s intellectual and behavioral development is accomplished by what can be regarded as a learning and inspiration team. The team’s key members are the child, the parents and the teachers. Because it is a team, there is no independent actions, even by the child. All are focused on fulfilling the child’s potential and creative spark. Unfortunately, now, these teams rarely exists for a variety of combinations of the problems presented above.

Change is vital and despite the best efforts of the parents in advocating for and supporting their offspring, the education system simply cannot work as a fully committed team member. This is because of the aforementioned regulatory misdirection of the education process. Committed parents often resort to “home-schooling” which has strong benefits from a nurturing standpoint, but deprives the child of the social contacts essential for full development. Additionally, most parents, despite dedication, do not have the total experience necessary to fully ensure the support of their offspring’s creative spark. Similarly, the education system, seeking standardization, rarely on its own will meet the desired level of support and nurturing.

A balanced compromise by the team that acknowledges the necessary rigidity of the educational system, while preserving the overall goals of the team, can produce a successful nurturing of the child’s intellectual  and behavioral development. Engaging the teachers within this compromise structure can be effective and highly supported by the teacher. This is particularly true where the parents and the teachers arrive at a common goal in which they share joint responsibilities. In those cases where this is put in place, the entire attitude and performance of the child is both astounding and mutually rewarding. This is true especially in the case of special needs children. Suddenly the adversarial relationship between parents, teachers and the child disappears. So does the stress on all the team members. Unfortunately this is not a common practice, but where it happens an entire school is both inspired and enhanced. The concentration by the team to fully support the independent development of the child keeps the child an active team member and enforces active listening and wise counseling by all parties. Yes, even the child will actively listen and give astounding wise counseling to the adult team members.

At last, elementary education of a child ceases to be an ordeal for all parties and instead becomes an environment of mutual progress and reward. The future has become more secure and humankind all the richer.

There are many ways to sing the praises of the joyful benefits of a unity of child, parents and teacher in nurturing our future, but the following video link says it simply and from the heart to all who seek to ….!



To all those youngsters I had the pleasure and honor of working with. Each of them “raised me up beyond all I could be.

Explore posts in the same categories: Education, Humankind and Exploration, Imagination, self-discovery, Urge to Know

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3 Comments on “MOM,DAD,TEACHER: Help Me Achieve Me!”

  1. FANTASTIC POST…I have subscribed to your posts …Eliza Keating

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