Sunday, April 26, 2009

Not a teacher

I went to school (college, that is) and studied in one fairly specific field. It happened fairly quickly that I made the choice. One minute I was sitting at home, looking through a college course book, having every intention of going for my Bachelors Degree in English. Because I liked to write. The next minute it occurred to me that merely liking to write did not very often land lucrative, much less adequate, jobs. And I did not, under any circumstances, have the schtuff in me to be a teacher. My mom was a teacher. I had a pretty good idea what it took to be a teacher. I was not a teacher. You need some special schtuff to teach.

Upon further examination of the college course book, I saw some information about their secretarial science associate of arts program. And for some reason (God’s divine providence!), I thought that sounded pretty interesting. I chose well. Working in a law firm has been simply the greatest career for me. I love the organizing, the typing, the logic and the reason. I do not believe I should have gone on to be a lawyer. I did consider the question carefully many years ago. But I truly believe this particular career was what God had designed into my heart and mind for these past 8 years or more.

Now, because I did not go to college and obtain a Bachelors Degree in Education, there have been many times where, as a parent, I feel a little in the dark when it comes to child development. I have several friends who are/were teachers. I am always slightly envious of the years they spent in classrooms studying behavior and learning techniques which they can now apply to their children. And I look at my own childhood - my mom did not need to worry about sending us to preschool because she was our only teacher until the day we walked into kindergarten with our big crayola crayons.

I have read and gleaned all the information possible about what Reagan should be doing, could be doing or might be doing soon. Honestly, she has met or exceeded every developmental mark along the way.

So why do I still feel like its not enough?

I know my mom (a teacher! remember?) would tell me that I am a great mom, that I am not failing my daughter in any way, and that Reagan is a very smart little girl. And I do believe, to some degree, all of those statements. But as evidenced by some sincere confessions from my friends, there are times when every mom is afraid she is not doing enough or that her child is falling behind.

I do feel more hopeful about being able to be a little more intentional about teaching and developmental playing as I look at being a stay-at-home mom. We are involved in a free program called “Parents as Teachers” through our county where a lady comes to our home once a month, gives us handouts on games we can play and techniques to try, and then observes Reagan as she tries various activities.

Brian has remarked a couple of times that the PAT program seems a little unnecessary. It does take a little bit of a time commitment. There are times when the lessons or information is not as helpful. And sometimes I complain about the interruption into my normal routine. But as I sat and thought about it last night, I knew I wanted to continue. Because truth be told, I want the help. I want someone to tell me “This month, you should start to teach your child that there are words for emotions - not just actions.” I’ve actually found it really reassuring at times because the literature says I should not expect Reagan to just all of a sudden learn her colors. It tells me how she starts to learn her colors (using one or two colors to describe all colors) and then gives little fun games that can help her continue to learn. These are things I do not just know.

I’m not so ashamed to admit that I appreciate the help I have received from this program. In a way, its helped me to not compare my daughter’s development to other kids around her. I am able to be more focused on her and what works for her, and to not feel as competitive. I find myself noting the ways and environments in which she thrives and learns the best. I listen carefully when she talks and make mental notes of what she is grasping. I watch for signs of comprehension and application. I study.

It would appear that I am, actually, becoming a teacher. But more and more, I’m becoming a student. And that’s actually been a pretty fun “job” too.

No comments: