Parents as Teachers

Anthropologists who study parenting across different cultures have distinguished two common themes related to parenting goals.

In some cultures, parents view themselves as guardians of their children’s physical, social and emotional selves.  They place a high priority on safety and meeting their children’s physical needs linking their values to the survival of their child.  Their role as parents is deemed to be successful if the child reaches adulthood and is able to achieve economic independence within appropriate societal norms and roles.

Other cultures consider parental roles as related to the teaching and learning of skills necessary for achieving educational success in academic settings.  These parents are also naturally concerned with their children’s physical safety, however their expectation of children reaching adulthood is high and their priorities are more likely to be placed on the acquisition of skills requiring language.

Obviously, these two categories are painted with a broad brush, but considering the two options may lead a parent to ask herself the following question:  Do I see myself as my child’s teacher?  Why or why not?

Do you think about what kinds of things you’d like to teach your child?

Do you capture “teachable” moments throughout the day?

Do you consciously name things, emotions, ideas and actions for your child?

Do you ask open ended questions and attempt to engage your child in ongoing conversations?

Do you purposely provide your child with new and interesting experiences that he or she would not otherwise encounter?


Do you expect that your child will naturally learn language and skills simply by observing people in the environment?

Do you consider school to be the place to learn new things?

Chances are, if you are reading this, you think of yourself as your child’s first and primary teacher.  Have you consciously set that as a goal for yourself?

What other goals do you consider to be of value to you as a parent?

Please share in the comments below.

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