The African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child" is a universal quote that shows the importance of enlisting help from multiple sources when it comes to bringing up kids. While parents are often the primary caregivers, other adults such as teachers can also play a pivotal role in helping children to grow and develop.
A 2004 study from the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research found that U.S. kids spent 7.5 more hours each week in an academic environment than they had 20 years before. With more time spent at school, teachers are left to take over the majority of a child's day. While this doesn't mean that there's a complete role reversal or that teachers are the new "parents," it can mean that the teacher's role -- relative to the parent's role -- is slowly growing, as the academic day and week are extended.
According to the 2011 American Time Use Survey from the U.S. Department of Labor, the average amount of time that stay-at-home mothers spend physically caring for young children age 6 and under through tasks such as providing meals or bathing is 3.7 hours per weekday. While this number may seem somewhat low, keep in mind that it doesn't reflect time spent engaging in leisure activities with kids.
While the primary part that a teacher plays is in the academic development of a child, some also take on additional roles in bringing up a child. Some teachers may act as an adviser or mentor to a child, helping him discover his interests or possible career aspirations. Other teachers may play a more parental role, helping children to work out personal problems. Although it isn't entirely uncommon for teachers to play a more personal role in a child's life, educational professionals must realize that they are not the parents and should create clear boundaries that the child understands. These typically include rules set forth by a school district as well as ethical and legal boundaries such as avoiding any physical contact and keeping all meetings at the school.
While the teacher acts as the primary educator, that doesn't mean that the parent doesn't have a role in the learning process. Many parents choose to conduct an array of at-home activities with their children as they grow and develop. For example, a mom may finger paint with her toddler, work on writing the alphabet with her preschooler, do a science experiment in the kitchen with her grade schooler or do a math project with her teen. Aside from the educational aspect, parents act as the primary caregivers. This includes almost everything from feeding and bathing to emotional discussions or help dealing with the challenges of growing up. Parents also set expectations for the child's behaviors and attitudes and create a home environment that is full of support.
- University of Michigan: U.S. Children and Teens Spend More Time on Academics
- U.S. Department of Labor: Charts From the American Time Use Survey
- U.S. Department of Labor: Charts by Topic: Care of Household Children
- St. Paul Network of Education Action Teams: Roles & Responsibilities of Parents
- Northern Illinois University: Connecting With Students While Maintaining Ethical Boundaries
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images