Mama Bears and Teachers

Think back for a moment to your child’s first and most influential teacher. The one your child connected with early on. That caring person who made a difference. Was that teacher a day care provider? A preschool teacher? A kindergarten teacher?

The answer is…none of the above. Your child’s very first teacher is you. As the parent – a mama bear, papa bear or primary caregiver – you are and always will be your child’s first and most important teacher.  You guide, coach, train, teach, instruct, nurture and yes sometimes yell (we’re human) at your child on what to do, how to do it and how not to do it, everyday. Ten years ago, I answered this question by naming my daughter’s preschool teacher.  I find that most parents I work with – those who want to give their kids the best education they can – also name an “outside” person. For most of us, it’s a learned concept.

It takes three things to get your child a quality education:  great teachers, parent involvement and high expectations from both. And the most important teacher in that equation is youYou are your child’s most significant “teacher” and the part you play in your child’s learning – informal (what happens at home) and formal (in school) – is huge. Bigger than we realize. It’s why the education gap exists in our country. It’s why state test scores will only improve so much. (Diane Ravitch has a lot to say on this concept in her book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System.) It’s why our international neighbors outsmart us as they become more westernized. What you say and do at home or at school to support and advocate for your child’s learning can make or break their education.

This website and future book, The Parent Backpack, shows parents that their role in sculpting a child’s young mind and supporting their education, particularly in those early elementary years – the years that often predict how successful a child will be – is crucial. Did you know that the average 8-year-old spends 1,170 hours a year in school and 3,500 waking hours at home? Parent involvement is the backbone of successful students. Over 7o studies prove this which led to educator and researcher Anne Henderson and her partners’ book, Beyond the Bake Sale.

But how, when and what exactly does “involvement” look like?  Isn’t it the teachers job to do the teaching?  How does a parent connect to their kid’s learning without driving teachers crazy? The Parent Backpack offers perspective and insight on learning and education, from a parent point of view. It equips moms and dads with the skills and strategies needed to support, advocate for, guide and coach kids from kindergarten through grade five so they succeed.

It’s the tool kit I wish I had 10 years ago when my two daughters started school. It’s for any parent who thrived on “What to Expect…” guidebooks during the baby and toddler years: the parents whose nightstand now sits empty with no resource to help them navigate their way through bureaucratic, complex and tangled education systems. It’s for you – mama bear and papa bear – your child’s most important teacher.


  1. Great info! Wish you were around before my kids went to college! I’m sure you’ll help so many with this blog!

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