It’s hard to know where a parent’s work ends in supporting children’s academic achievement. Witness the helicopter parent next door who’s got Kumon on speed dial and watches the classroom webcam like it’s House of Cards. We sense that she’s gone too far in her vicarious quest for success, but can’t pinpoint exactly where she crossed the line between supportive parent and obsessive micromomager.
But it’s abundantly clear where a parent’s educational work starts–at birth. Long before children enter school, parents are their first teachers, consciously or unconsciously laying the pre-literacy groundwork that will undergird all future learning. Yet we tend to spend disproportionate time pondering what other people–teachers, policymakers, enrichment programs–owe our kids. Surely we’d benefit from giving ourselves the same kind of scrutiny. Do the math: we’re with our kids more than any teacher.