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August 2, 2013

Teaching Your OWN Child in School

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Have you ever considered teaching your own child in a school setting?  Have you wondered about the pros and cons?  We recently discussed teaching your own child in school on my HeidiSongs Facebook page and it was a very interesting conversation, with many teacher-moms (sorry, no dads spoke up!) that gave their input into this situation.  It was fascinating to hear about their experiences, and since I do not know of any research on teaching your own child in school, I thought it might be good to publish a blog post on the topic.

Personally, I could have taught any of my three daughters in my own class, but at the time, I was teaching the afternoon Kindergarten, which is what happens when you are the low teacher on the totem pole!  I needed my daughters to be in the morning class for day care reasons.  So my own children attended my school, but they were not in my class.  (In CA, we usually teach EITHER the AM or the PM class… but not both.  The unions don’t allow you to teach TWO classes in one day… thank God!)

Exhausting as it was, I look back on these times as the happiest in my life!  The twins are the two on the left and middle, and my oldest is on the right.  The only thing that could have made my twins more different would have been if one had been male and the other female!  They were entirely different, right from birth.


Here’s a little background information on me, for those of you that are interested!  My oldest daughter, Katie, was born 14 months prior to the arrival of our next two daughters, who are fraternal twins!  And yes, the first pregnancy was a blessing that my husband and I planned, and the second one was a blessing that God planned- most especially the twin part, LOL! 

Looking back, having three children so close in age was an adventure in diapers, formula, and exhaustion.  I often felt like I was running a small and very exclusive preschool!  I had left my first born with a sitter and went back to teaching when she was eight months old- totally heartbroken– but I knew that we had to pay the bills.  Then I found out that I was pregnant again, but with TWINS!  I had to leave my teaching job and stay home (aw, darn!) due to the high risk pregnancy.  I was so glad to be back with my daughter!  But later, I finally had to go back to teaching full time when the twins were 21 months old, and I thought my heart would break in two.  At the time, between working and mothering, it felt like it would never end (the exhaustion part!), but time flies when you are having fun, and somehow they all grew up in the blink of an eye.  The girls are all adults now, and are ages 23, 22, and 22 at the time of this post.

This is my hubby Greg, who was also part Jungle Gym when the girls were small!

The decision to teach your own child in school is an entirely personal and individual one.  I totally respect the decisions of those that did it or want to try it, and with the right personalities in place, I am sure it can be quite successful!  You can read all about the experiences of those that have done it below.  The great majority of the experiences of the teachers that have tried teaching their own child (or relative, such as niece, nephew, or grandchild) are overwhelmingly positive- and that was truly a surprise to me!

Here are some other reasons why I chose not to teach my own children in school (There was plenty of teaching going on at home, after all!)  I could have had them in my own physical classroom, but on the morning teacher’s class list. However, I envisioned “jealousy issues” with whomever got to be “with mommy” all morning, so again, I decided against it.  I also thought that it would be easier for me to concentrate on my job rather than on my child, especially since “mommy time” was at a premium at my house!  I simply couldn’t envision one of the three girls letting go of my leg, and learning to separate from mom is an important part of being in school.  (I won’t say which of my daughters probably would not have let go, but my girls certainly know who!)

The twins learned to be good about sharing, even their birthday parties and birthday cakes!

The teacher I chose for my daughters, the morning teacher in the room next door, had a “reputation” for being “the best teacher in the school” anyway.  So, I just went with it!  I think that this decision kind of hurt the feelings of the team mate that I shared my classroom with (the one that taught the morning class, God rest her soul!) and I always felt bad about that!  This is one of the problems that can arise from having your own children attend your own school, I know.  I’m sure that this is probably why some administrators forbid teachers from working at the same school that their children attend- so that THEY (the administrators!) don’t have to deal with it!  In fact, at the time, there were schools in my very own district that did not allow teacher’s children to transfer in to attend their own schools; they could only attend there if they lived within the attendance boundaries.  Some of the teachers at other schools found it very unfair that I was allowed to have my children with me at my school, while they were not!   I really didn’t blame them for being upset, but when the transfer was granted, I had no idea that I was being granted a “special privilege” that others did not get.  Oh, the politics of the workplace… you can try to avoid it, but can you ever REALLY?

And how did it all work out for us?  Two out of three of my girls blossomed in my colleague’s kindergarten classroom.  But having the twins together in the same room was a terrible idea for my girls!  They have always been very competitive.  One twin, always happy at home, became very sad and withdrawn at school, but the teacher (my colleague) was afraid to tell me… until report cards came out on the last day of school.  I later found out that the other twin was telling the rest of the children that she was a WITCH- and so the other children were afraid to play with her!!!!!  (Where in the WORLD did THAT come from???? O M G!!!!  No wonder she was so upset!)

Family is a HUGE part of my life, and I don’t know what I would have done during those years without my parents help!  They often took our girls for an evening, weekend, or even a whole week (or more!) so that Greg and I could get away and have some time alone.  God bless them!

Needless to say, I split them into two separate classrooms the following year and every year after that, where they both blossomed into the wonderful, happy students that they were meant to be.  Each child was intelligent and happy in her own right; they just needed to be seen as individuals and be separated from each other.  I suppose I could have avoided that by just keeping one of them with me- but I was too nervous about the consequences of that!

When all is said and done, I think that it is quite possible that the pros and cons of teaching your own child at school and having your child in a colleague’s class are probably about equal.  Here is how I see it:

Pros of Teaching Your Own Child in School:
1.  You get to see your child in a way denied many parents, such as if you were homeschooling them.
2.  You can ensure that your child gets a FABULOUS education!
3.  It can be a wonderful challenge!
4.  You get to see first hand what your child knows and how he or she is progressing.
5.  Having your child at your own school makes drop off and pick up a breeze!
6.  It may be just as much trouble dealing with a colleague as your child’s teacher as it would be having your child in your own class.
7.  If your child has any issues, such as ADHD or learning disabilities, you will likely be the first to suspect that there is a problem and you won’t have to wait for someone to tell you.

Cons of Teaching Your Own Child in School
1.  You may find it distracting if your child is constantly wanting your attention.
2.  You may find it difficult to be fair to your child in comparison to the others; some teachers found that they were either too hard on their own child or too easy.  Most thought they were erring on the side of being too hard on their own child as far as discipline is concerned.
3.  Assessments can be tricky; you may need to have someone else come in and assess your child in order for testing to be fair.
4.  Parents of other students may have concerns about favoritism.
5.  Your school administration may not allow it.
6.  Disciplining your OWN child is sometimes MUCH more difficult than disciplining other people’s children!  So thinking about each child’s personality before making this decision is a must!

My mom, “Grandma Lu ” sews, and made the girls wonderful dresses that they loved!  Being a “Super Grandma,” she also saved the scraps and made each of them a quilt out of the left over pieces and gave it to each of them for their high school graduations, along with a photo album of them wearing the dresses.  Now THAT’s great planning!  What a keepsake!

Below is the question that I posted on my Facebook page.  If you have any experiences or comments to add, I would love to hear from you!  Please leave your comments below. 

Have any of you ever taught your own son or daughter in your own Kinder, Pre-K, or First Grade class?  
If so, tell us how it went!

Donna Wadzeck:  Yep, my oldest was in my kinder class.

Leina Larsen Cobar:  Yes, I had 2/3 of my boys for preschool. Loved it!

Keely Havener Keane:  I had all three of my own children in my first grade class. I loved it!!!

Belinda Ward Gimpel: I teach pre k and my granddaughter can be in my class next year. Still thinking about that decision.

Heidi Howard:  Yes! I taught both my daughters their kindergarten year! It was wonderfully challenging!

Donna Wadzeck: It was fine with my daughter; she did fine.  She asked me only once, “Mommy, why are you so hard on me?”  “I replied that with her being the teacher’s daughter she had to set an example for the others.  (Keep in mind this was Catholic School 25 years ago….my youngest would have been a totally different story though, so I’m glad there was another kinder teacher by the time she got there!)

HeidiSongs Interesting!
Jennifer Dietz Lawson: Yes I taught my own daughter in K. I loved it and the kids knew she was my daughter…but I did not give her any special privileges.  She also called me by Mrs. Lawson. I am teaching my son this year.

Peggy Zepponi:  I know people who have and loved it.

Emily Alberi:  Yes my daughter was in my preschool class last year. It went great.

Jennifer Helmick Morgan:   I’m having my Kate next year — I teach at a private school where there is one class per grade.  Kate’s a good girl,it will be fine. It’s my younger one, Tess who will be the challenge. Most of the teachers have had their kids and say you get to see them in a way denied many parents.

Lizabeth Joy Allen:  Yes, my daughter was in my kindergarten class last year.

Michelle Wiggins:  Wow! My youngest son was in my Pre-K class, and it was AWFUL!! I really, really wish that he was in another class! He had an AWFUL year, and so did I!! =-(

Holly E. DaRold Azevedo:  I taught my daughter in first. Great experience.

Kay Barningham Fjeld:  I had one son in Pre-school and then the other in Special Ed….. It worked out great for all of us. I had  a lot of kids calling me mom!  The oldest has now graduated and his friends still call me mom.

Robin Howell:  My assistant had her daughter in Pre-K with us. It was not great. The daughter demanded a lot of attention from her mom and there were times her mom did not give the attention necessary to other students as she was focused on her daughter. It was also hard on me as I felt as I was between a rock and a hard place between mother and daughter. I did not have my children in my class as I knew I would be too hard on them and have a hard time separating school and home.

Chris Kurtz:  I hope to have my grandson a year from now.

HeidiSongs:  I would think that there could be an equal amount of problems with your children in a colleague’s class and your children in your own class.

HeidiSongs:  Sometimes it can be tricky to teach the child of a colleague when things don’t go as expected.  I never had big problems with my colleagues, but I know of others that had them.

HeidiSongs: It’s definitely an individual decision.

Michelle Wiggins:  Am I the ONLY teacher who had a bad experience teaching their own child?

HeidiSongs:  Michelle Wiggins, can you tell us what was bad about it?

Michelle Wiggins:  My son was a very young 4 year old, and just didn’t understand other kids getting my attention. I guess he wanted me all to himself. He spent MANY, MANY days crying, instead of learning and having fun! =-(. Of course, now he is in High School and said he LOVED preschool, but I remember TONS of sad days!! =-(

HeidiSongs:  Was there no way to move him to another room mid year, Michelle?

Michelle Wiggins:  Heidi, no, I could not move him mid-year. I was the only pre-k 5 day teacher. The other pre-k teachers taught 3 days, and I really had no where for him to go on those other 2 days if I would have switched him. I guess he could have gone to a day care, but, at that point I taught in a private school and was making $7.50 an hour! It wouldn’t have been worth it for me to even teach if my whole paycheck had to go to day care!!  We just sucked it up, and then I got a job in a public school…YEAH!!  Not much more money, but definitely more than $7.50 an hour!! =-)

Lisa Vela:  My daughter will be in my K class. I am the only K teacher at her school ( Catholic) so we both have no choice! We’re looking forward to it:)

Larena Hahn Kern:  I don’t have any kids of my own, but next year my niece, who is like my own, will be in my class! To add to it, my co-teacher is my sister…This should be interesting!

Lynette Carel:  Yes, I taught my twin girls in Kindergarten. It was amazing and challenging at the same time. In the beginning parents voiced concerns that there would be “favoritism” that was reassured after observing my class and realizing that I was fair with all. My daughters weren’t prepared for mommy as teacher though… I’m more structured and disciplined and they were used to me hugging and kissing on them all the time. That was 5 years ago and they still tell me I was their favorite teacher, LOL!  Plus, they loved that I got to see first hand what they knew and how they progressed.

Melissa Poindexter Hall:  I taught not my own child, but my niece and two grandkids.  The hardest was the one grandchild that lives with me.  I was harder on him than the others, and had to keep reminding myself to stop- he is a normal student.  Thank goodness my next door neighbor was awesome at reminding me in kind way!  Plus she would pull him in her room to play.  He asked me the other day if I was going to be his teacher again.  I said not this year.  He said, “But I love you and will miss you,” which tells me no damage done…thank goodness…

Lorie Marchant:  I taught my son in kindergarten and it was wonderful!!

Laura Weinand:  My son who is currently 3 will be in my K class in a couple years as I’m the only K teacher in the whole district. I’m nervous because he knows how to push all of my buttons! I would prefer to just be “mom” to him so that we don’t bring school issues home.

Maribel Gervais:  I would think it would be very difficult to have your child in your class. I know I wouldn’t enjoy it. You have to wear 2 hats: mom and teacher and sometimes children can’t see the difference, plus you also have to be very fair with grades. How about assessments?

Saisha Medeiros:  I taught both my girls in my preschool but now that I am teaching K/1 I have asked she be in a different class. My youngest is feisty and too smart for her own good.

Nadine Novotny Fink:  I had my daughter in first grade – loved it!  She called me “Mrs. Mommy”!!  She also got her dad for 8th grade! (Small Christian school!!)

Kelley Deener Sgroi:  This is very interesting to me. At my daughter’s school, in Illinois, I was told they can’t hire me as a teacher, or an aide, because my daughter goes to school there. Supposedly, the district has a very strict policy about this.

Marci Wilson:  I want to have my daughter in my K class a year from now!  Will see if it happens!

Suzanne Trush-Cusick:  Yes I had my son in Kindergarten as a student. It was great!  I was his mom in the car going to school, but once we were at school, I was the teacher. He never called me Mom.  My principal was very agreeable, and I told the parents at curriculum night.  At the end of the year some of the students still didn’t believe he was my son!!  If there was something that needed to be worked on, I told him in school that I would be contacting his father- and when he got home my husband would talk with him!  It was a great experience- I learned a lot- and would do it all over again!!

Adrienne Choma Sodemann: I only taught them in Sunday school. My older sister was in my mom’s first grade class though.  They stopped allowing it by the time I rolled around.  Wish she could have been my teacher!

LeeAnn Bowman Lytie:  Both of my kids said that they did NOT want to be in my class for Kindergarten.  Someone asked my daughter why and her five year old answer was, “Because sometimes I dont listen to Mom and you always have to listen to your teacher!”

Lois Tschaepe  I will be teaching not my own children, but my triplet grandsons.

HeidiSongs:  Hooray for Lois Tschaepe, Super Grandma!

Kris Droster Carbone:  I had my son in kindergarten. I was hired in late September to co-teach in an effort to reduce class size. He was already enrolled in the class that I joined. He was 1 of 31 students. We had no problems.

HeidiSongs:  Maribel Gervais has a good point about assessments. You might need to have someone else do them for you.

Ces Cox: I tried to have my now 9 year old with me for pre-k, but was told no. He ended up in the class next to me with a teacher who is much better at routine. It was better for us to not have him in my room, but I was very glad to have him nearby. I wouldn’t want my kids at a school site other than my own (homeschool not included! My middle two homeschool with my mother) unless they were not a compatible grade level for the site. My 4 year old is only going to pre-k in August because I am very comfortable with his teacher.

Carrie Dudding Feldman:  I have taught both of mine in my kindergarten class. It was really fun having them and watching them learn!

Mimi Gilbert Fisher:  I am teaching my daughter in kinder this next year! I am so excited! She already told her friends “You have to listen to my mom because she’s tough!”

Cindy Tuisku:  I taught one of my sons in preschool and one in kindergarten. It was wonderful!!

Pamela Herd: I taught my own grand daughter and it was the best year ever!

Kymmie Smith:  I don’t have children but I am a fabulous auntie. I’ve taught two nieces and a nephew. All kinder.

Krista Bodeen Sanders:  I have not had either of my children but have had my niece and nephew and that was awesome!  I would have handled oldest child, but I think that my youngest would be more successful with another teacher. Each child is different.

Arlette Davis: I teach first grade in a Catholic school and have taught my two daughters and my son. This past year I had my youngest daughter and it was a wonderful experience.  Actually, all 3 children were a joy to have in class.

Mary Jamieson Samelson:  I did not have my daughter in my class, but she was at the same school with me. I cannot imagine having my child in my class. I think it is extremely challenging to not prefer some children over others as it is and I would not want to have that added burden. It worked out great having my daughter at my school – but she was a good student and not at all difficult. Some of my colleagues have had their children (or grand children) at our school and that did not go work out well. Unless you have a child that is easy going and does well it could be quite difficult for both of you.

Mindy Thatcher Sumens:  I taught my daughter in K and LOVED it!  My son starts next year, however, and I may be passing that opportunity to someone else. They have very different personalities and he will do better with someone else!

Debbi Gelstin:  I taught my son in kindergarten (he is now a senior)— it was great!  Two years later, my daughter had someone else!  I agree with the person whom said each child has different personalities; you just have to decided child by child, year by year!!!!!

Jess Lowe:  I am supposed to teach my son in kindergarten this year. I’m looking forward to it. (As long as I’m not forced to switch grade levels again!)

HeidiSongs There are definitely pros and cons in the situation, no question. Thanks for all of the great input, everyone!

Are there any more comments that our readers would like to add?  We would love to hear them!  Thanks for sharing!

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