I have been a dad much longer than I've been a teacher. Although, from the moment my first child was born, and even while she was in utero, I was a teacher. But in the technical sense I have been a parent nearly 3 times as long as I've been a qualifies early childhood teacher. So how do the roles compare and compliment each other? Does being one make you better at being the other? Have I changed my parenting style since training to be & practicing as a teacher? I will try to give a relatively brief account of my experiences and my slant on the relationship between fatherhood and teacherhood. I know I said I will try to be brief, but I am a very verbose person so I will therefore break this reflection down into several parts. Perhaps one for each day of this week. We'll see how it goes anyway.
Since I have begun with such a long introduction my first offering will deal with how my life changed in so many ways when I discovered my wife was pregnant. I stated in my intro that I was a teacher to my daughter while she was in utero. I believe this is so for a few reasons. Firstly, although a mother & child begin bonding almost instantly, a father & child can bond very early on too. This was during the mid 90's and my favourite song of the time was Wonderwall by Oasis. I would sing this to my wife's belly several times a day from as early as 2-3 months into the pregnancy. Later, during her infancy I would to sing it softly to my daughter to calm her down, get her off to sleep or simply to be with her. To this day she has an undeniable attraction to the song, even though it was before her time & no other Oasis song appeals to her. Yes this was parental bonding and attachment, but I feel it was also teaching as I provided my daughter with an opportunity to experience the presence of another significant person in her life apart from her mother.
The bonding & teaching continued as significant milestone approached & were achieved. I spent many hours curled up on the lounge or bed with my baby in my arms. As I usually came home from my work in the mid-late morning we would often have our midday nap together. I never really saw these moments as anything more than precious moments for the both of us. Yet my studies opened up a whole new perspective to me. I now realise that I was teaching my baby much more than I ever knew.
I repeated this process with my son a couple of years later, except his song was Beautiful Boy by John Lennon. I also fell into the second child syndrome where everything is still special, just not big a deal for 'experienced' parents. Therefore, while we still celebrated the milestones, it was the little everyday things that we let pass unheralded (or at least less heralded that with our daughter). We have since come to regret this, as I suppose most parents do. I was still a teacher to him, but probably a less effective one than I could have been. Luckily he hasn't suffered from it in our opinion. Maybe I'm just being hard on myself, but that is what reflection is all about. Something else that highlights the Teacher that was, & still is, in the Dad.
Hopefully part 2 will be posted tomorrow.