Embracing The Home Educator Split Personality

in Home Edders2 months ago

It is very common for people "to wear many hats." Since our lives are complex, our roles and responsibilities in other people's lives are equally complex.

For example, my wife is ...

  • my wife
  • my children's mother
  • her Mom and Dad's daughter.

My wife is a attentive listener, a caring friend, a college graduate, a kind neighbor, an encourager, the woman I want to keep dating (even though we are already married). And she is also a home school educator.

These different hats (the roles and responsibilities we all have) do not always fit into nice, neat compartments. Often times they overlap.

Life is too messy and challenging to fit into nice, neat compartments.

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When Worlds Collide


My mom has been a kindergarten teacher for most of her professional career. She retired a couple of years ago after serving for more than 40 years in the public school system. She taught first and second grade for a total of three years, but then quickly moved back to her kindergarten roots.

When I was about to enter kindergarten (and that was a long time ago), I walked up to my Mom and proudly announced that I wanted her to be my teacher. Mom quickly responded, "I can either be your kindergarten teacher or your mommy." I opted for her to be my mother.

When I was in 5th grade, Mom substitute taught for my class. Before landing a new full time job (you guessed it, as a kindergarten teacher), she taught various grade levels.

I can still vividly remember parts of that day. While studying the states and their capitals, my class would compete in a gauntlet style quiz. If you got the answer correct before your opponent, you moved on to the next classmate. The goal was to move around the entire class.

I was zooming along until I reached Travis. He was the toughest competitor in my class, but I had regularly beaten him. My Mom called out the state, and we both quickly responded with the correct capital. I was excited because I had won. My Mom declared Travis the winner.

Being teacher overruled being Mom in that moment. She wore two hats, but not at the same time. I am guessing that she did not want to show any signs of favoritism.

Home Educators and the Home Educated Have Split Personalities

Home educators do not have the same benefit. The line between educator and parent quickly blurs because our classroom is our home and our students are also the same kiddos who sleep under our roof at night.

Think about these questions related to our children's education:

  • Are we acting as a parent or as a teacher?
  • Are we acting as a parent or as a principle, counselor, etc?
  • Can we act in two different educational roles at at the same time?
  • What are the pros and cons of embracing two or more roles?
  • Does life need to be nice and neat or should we allow the line to blur?

And our kiddos will also experience some of the same confusion.

  • Did Mom just get upset at me or was that the "teacher" speaking?
  • Did Dad discipline me or was I treated the same way a traditional "principle" would act?
  • Is my "teacher" encouraging me/pushing me more or less than a non-relative educator would?

Wearing these multiple hats, both as the educator and the educated, is not inherently bad. But it is important to remember that some of us are able to handle this tension better than others.

As a parent and an educator, you need to give yourself freedom to work through some of these challenges. It is also important to let your children find balance as well. Be an encourager and guide as your kiddos embrace their split educational personality.

Fidgety Children


Academics were important to me, even as a young child. I wanted to show my value through my knowledge. I rarely acted up. Those handful of times my name was written on the board for poor behavior really wreaked my day.

One day after school, I was climbing the walls at home, so much so that my Mom asked me what was wrong. I replied, "I have been good at school all day, and now I just need to get out some energy."

During traditional school hours, I was a calm, attentive child - one part of my personality. But at home I needed to "go crazy" - another part of my personality.

I lived in a world where I could be different people in different places. The same is not true for our homes schooled kiddos.

Moldable Spirits


In a more recent example, I walked into our home school room to find one of my daughters struggling with school. Of all of my kiddos, she has the hardest time focusing on school work. Honestly, she has the hardest time focusing on anything that requires effort. This little lady is as sharp as a tack, but she wastes a lot of energy avoiding work instead of doing work.

When I saw what was happening, I needed to step in. I reminded my daughter that she has to listen to her "teacher" (who just also happens to be her mom). She needs to show respect and obey, regardless or whether she is speaking to her mom or her teacher.

For a moment, the lines blurred a bit. As principle I wanted her to respect her teacher. As Dad, I wanted to encourage her with a hug and remind her that my wife and I love her.

Final Thoughts

This post is less about fixing a problem and more about realizing the tension that homes educators and our kiddos live with a daily basis.

Below are some guiding principles to consider:

  1. Life is challenging. Embrace the mess. Lean into the tension.
  2. When possible, set boundaries/guidelines that help you and your children successfully live out these multiple roles .
  3. Regardless of the hat you wear at any given moment, show love, kindness, and patience to those you interact with. The role you are fulfilling should not change how you treat people.

I want to hear from you.

  1. Do you struggle with "wearing many hats"?
  2. Do you kiddos struggle with you being both educator and parent?
  3. What steps can you take to ease this tension.

Thanks for stopping by!

@SumatraNate

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Your text has brought back memories. I am a teacher and my mother was a teacher for over twenty years. In fact, she was my first grade teacher and one of the main inspirations for my professional performance.
My mother was one of the best teachers I ever knew, and I still remember when I was in line for my reading lesson. Even though I had learned to read at home, and she knew it better than anyone else, she never exempted me from the line or the lesson. She wore her teacher's hat. To the eye of a child, it is difficult to tell the difference.
Many years later I remember her teaching and I think she still teaches me lessons from her loving memory. She is dead, but she is still alive in me, and in the way I interact with my students.
Thank you for sharing your experiences and reflections

@adncabrera - Thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience. I am glad to hear that you mom was a great role model and that she inspired you to become a teacher.

It can be confusing at times, especially for kiddos. I think it is important to acknowledge that your mom was teaching you long before you were in 1st grade, and not just reading.

Have a blessed day!

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Wow! Thanks!

Can't say I've ever had that problem as I don't distinguish between being a parent and a teacher, they're all part of the same job as far as I'm concerned :)

I completely agree with you. That is why our family is passionate about homeschooling. We firmly believe that parents should be teachers/role models/mentors in their children lives.

Thank for contributing to the conversation.

This is an interesting concept. I can't say I ever really made a division when homeschooling, because parents are still the teachers of their children in many ways, even if they're attending a school. With the example you give of your mother being a teacher and having to take on that route with you in school, that makes sense because she's teaching other children as well. Hence the line that needs drawn in order to not be seen as favouring her own child.

I guess if your creating a fairly formal school environment at home, then there would be more of a distinction between the roles of parent and teacher/principal. I wonder now if this is what is referred to as school at home, rather than homeschooling towards the unschooling side. I think we were somewhere in the middle.

So interesting to be reading about the numerous different approaches.

@minismallholding - I have been pondering on your comment since I first read it.

I think it is safe to say that who we (the parents) were as children and our educational experience could impact how we choose to home educate. Take the past and now add who we are today and then mix in a handful of kids and you have an equation with lots of variable.

The lens in which I view life is definitely impacted by the past, but fortunately it is not completely controlled by the past.

I appreciate your distinction about how formal the school environment people are setting up in their homes.

I feel we are in the middle as well. We use pre-written curriculum for core subject and have expectations about certain work being done each day. But we appreciate that our time is flexible. We also find life lesson outside of our curriculum. Even today, my wife and kiddos are at an apple orchid with some other homeschooling families.

I really appreciate your engagement. Thanks for stopping by!

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A great thought provoker and conversation starter! I've featured your post in the @HomeEdders weekly curation.

Curated by @minismallholding on behalf of @HomeEdders.


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This was such a great read. It also brung back memories for me. When I was in grade school, my mother used to sub teach. I remember one day I was acting out (4th grade) and being very loud and I didn’t care because “my mom” was the sub and there was “no way” I was getting in trouble that day. Well I learned a tough lesson. My mom didn’t separate her roles that day. She literally disciplined me with her words, wrote my name on the board and told me just because I’m her daughter doesn’t mean I get to slide. She did all this in front of the entire class just as if we were at home.

My husband and I never separate our roles while at home. Our children know we are both mom and dad, teacher and principal. Sometimes I say “kids” and sometimes I call them “students”. We pretty much bounce back and forth between our roles but it doesn’t cause confusion. I think it all depends on the foundation and atmosphere that is set at the beginning and what is agreed upon between the parents. We are meant to be teachers!

Thanks for such a nice read :)