Should a teacher ever teach a class his or her child is taking in public school?

My husband and I both teach in a small country school, and both of our children have attended that school since Kindergarten. We did have the option to send them to a different school in order to avoid any conflict of interest, but it's so much harder for transport and child care when you have kids in one school and parents in the other. Plus we genuinely believed our school was the right fit for them. We loved having the kids at school with us. Some years we really didn't see them much because they were in completely different areas of the school, but being so close meant we were able to sign our kids out instantly if the school was closing due to snow or bushfires, we could take them home if they were sick, and if we had a bit of work to do after hours we could set the kids up with a movie or a computer and have them with us and occupied.

We have both taught our own children in one capacity or another. Each of us at different times have been responsible for teachers' release schedules, so I would take every class in the school for music throughout the week or my husband would do the same with technology. One year, my husband was team teaching a class and had my our son every afternoon. Both kids have been in my choirs and instrumental groups. They are, quite honestly, just another student in your classroom at that point in time. If anything, we are very careful to avoid perceived favouritism and may overlook our own kids for an award or praise (but always let them know afterward how proud we are or what a great job they did).

The other side of it is the kids' perspective. Ours were always fine with it and it's all they've ever known. It was actually strange for my son to go to high school last year and suddenly be away from any family members. It did mean that they have sometimes had a more comfortable manner in our classes than other teachers, though. My son was excellent at calling us Mr Foster or Mrs Foster all through school until he got to about 6th grade, then suddenly he started calling me ‘mum' in practices. He played a couple of (simple, funny, and harmless) practical jokes on me that other students probably wouldn't have tried and that he wouldn't likely have tried with a different teacher. Their friends see a different side of them sometimes, they're apparently model students in their regular classes but with mum and dad they let their cheeky side show.

In older years especially, some students or teachers may feel uncomfortable about having family at school (my husband was a teacher's kid in high school, and it wasn't great). If your parent is fairly well liked, perceived as fair, and doesn't fill certain roles, you're probably fine. My father in law was the chaplain, though, so the stigma of ‘chaplain's son' was different to ‘teacher's kid.' Parents may be concerned that a student that doesn't like them may take it out on their own child. Kids might feel that they are only seen as the child of their teacher parent and could find it difficult to create an independent identity. Other teachers at school may have concerns about grading and critiquing the child of one of their colleagues (though in my experience, we're all professionals and expect each other to act accordingly).

My experience with other kids, though, is that they often don't put two and two together. The number of times that my kids' peers were shocked that I was their mother AND that I was married to Mr Foster... I honestly can't count. At the start of every year there are a few who haven't worked it out, and it's like their world view is shattered when they find out!


I can't really answer this from experience in high school (ages 12-19) but I can from experience with primary school (ages 5-12) with experience having a mother as a teacher and experience teaching my own child.

It depends on that particular school, the particular child and their personality, the teacher/parent of the child and their personality and what the school community is like.

I know of two schools that would handle the issue of a child running up to give their mum a hug while she hands out certificates to students at assembly, very differently.

As a student at the same school as my mum I enjoyed it and was taught that certain things regarding school were to be kept confidential which I did. However, it caused problems for my mum when being asked which teacher she would prefer I was taught by, the teacher who was obviously not chosen was very ofended and not placated by excuses.

As a mother it can be lovely to see your child at school. You can get better insights to how they are performing and where they need help. Teaching my own child has made me really appreciate how well behaved and nice they can be. However it is really difficult if you observe others being unkind or bullying them. You have to think about whether you can behave professionally if this happens. In order to try and be a good teacher I would help the other students and help my child last which wasn't fair to my child. When I tried to compensate at home they would be too tired to learn properly sometimes. At one time when my child was really hurt and just wanted a hug I was unable to give it to them because of my duties. I felt terrible.

Their friends and friends' parents may treat you differently which can be positive or negative.

As a teacher I was extra embarrassed if my child was naughty in public places such as the supermarket.

A teacher's child may feel unfair pressure to be good. In some schools I have seen teachers' children given preferential treatment while I one case I think a child was picked on by a staff member and their Mum was not in a position to be able to stop it.


I taught my daughter in an advanced chemistry class when she was in 10th grade. I gave her a choice of either being in my class or that of another teacher, and she decided to be in my class.

It took about two weeks for her to feel comfortable, but once she was, everything was fine. All the other students knew, of course, and she called me Mom. Fortunately, she was an excellent student, so we didn't have any conflicts about her studies.

A few years later I taught my nephew. He initially tried to get by without doing all his work, but after I failed him in the lab portion, he shaped up. (When I asked him what his mother was going to say about the failure, he said she'd be mad. I replied, "Yes, but not at me!" He turned his work around very quickly. Actually, he just needed to actually do the work.)
It happens.  Sometimes it can be a problem and sometimes it's not problem at all.

I know in my school we have a series of policies in place in order to ensure this kind of situation has the best possible outcome.

Such as - generally teachers aren't timetabled onto classes their own children are enrolled in.

If you do end up teaching your own child then you pass on marking or assessment for your child onto a different teacher to ensure impartiality.

You tend to pass discipline issues on as well - as much for your sake as for theirs.

Generally it is a situation that schools will try to avoid but if that is impossible then there are ways to manage it.
I am in a school where there is only one possible set of teachers per grade level. A year ago, one of the sixth grade students had his mom as his English teacher. There were no problems with this set-up.

 I know the mother and son both enjoyed the bonding time of "working" together, and it reinforced the idea that the teacher was also a parent in life, and that all 50 of the kids were her (school) children.

Growing up, I also went to school with a girl who was enrolled in her mother's P.E. class. There were other P.E. classes and P.E. teachers if scheduling were a concern, but only one class offered with this special flavor of P.E, and her mother was the teacher. It was perfectly fine having the daughter in the same class with her mom, and if anything it made the teacher sweeter and more humanized.

Overall, I don't think it is a bad thing. I think it can have a beneficial impact on the teacher, their child, and the whole class. It was once quite natural for students to learn from their parents, and parent-child relationships are a part of the larger community that students are learning about. And, for the son or daughter, one year of having your mom/dad as a teacher isn't a horrible thing.

I also know two people who have had 6 years of parent-teaching, because their parent was their school's only Latin teacher! They survived, and if anything was different from their experience, they talked about the added pressure of performing to a high standard. This wasn't just a teacher, it was also your parent who knew that you didn't do your homework! And if you were getting a B or C in the class, you were getting a low grade in the family profession - yikes!

In case you were wondering, I have also been at schools with the principal's son or daughter attending the school. In one of the two instances, this worked out fine and the daughter graduated a fantastic young lady, after four years with her dad as principal.
 
The principal didn't interfere with teacher grades, and didn't pressure teachers to treat the daughter differently. He remained hands-off, except for the fact that he ran the school.

 I think he may have  scheduled his daughter into the "good teacher's" classes at the start of the school yeae, but this wasn't saying much because he kept a great teaching staff on hand. He took extra pride in recruiting the great teaching staff, because he knew that his daughter was coming to his school soon. In this way, all 2,000 students benefitted indirectly from the personal care he had for his daughter's education.

In the second instance, having a principal with a child attending the school was a mess, but that was more because the principal was a terrible parent and her parenting techniques were now occurring for her son both at home and at school. If the son doesn't get consequences at home, and you actively reward him for bad behavior,  then it probably isn't a good idea for him to also attend the school you run, and to change his academic grades from Failing to Passing, so he continues to see a pattern that foolish actions result in no  negative consequences. That child barely passed anything, even with principal intervention.  And no wonder, he would do nothing in class, disrespect teachers after school and run away, and then she would pick him up and take him straight to basketball practice. Lesson learned? No. After a year, the principal moved him to another school, where he was allowed to learn accountability and allowed to fail if no work was shown.

So overall, I've seen majority positive experiences. I would highly recommend having children in their parents' classes, all things considered. I've known about 10 kids in this situation, and 9 of them went well.

The troubles, if they emerge, come in more with an already unhealthy parent-child dynamic, not from the added factor that the parent is now also the teacher.


Oh, I also know a kid whose parents were both famed math teachers at a private school. He attended that school growing up, survived having his parents as teachers, and became ... A math teacher as well. Fifteen years later, that private school now has all three of them (father, mother, and son) teaching, and they coach sports and win awards and it is a net positive for the school. You might just breed future teachers this way.

In general, it is not a good idea.

Even if the teacher is completely impartial, he or she will be perceived as favoring their own kid, or as being harder on their own kid. Selective perception will guarantee this:

  • those who believe the teacher favors his child will interpret even the most ordinary positive attention of the teacher as favoritism.
  • those inclined to look for harshness will do the same for negative attention.

The problem becomes acute in small schools, where it may not be possible to provide a teacher's kid with a different teacher. If your mom is the only English IV teacher on the staff, and you are a senior, you will have to take English from your mom.


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