Exploring A Parents' Work: Childhood Enlarged

My husband finished up his track & field coaching season this past weekend, culminating with the state competition in Eugene, Oregon. I've always been impressed with the caliber of my husband's coaching--he's been able to consistently coach amateur athletes to impressive levels of performance for roughly fifteen years now.

  My husband and daughter with this year's conference coaching award

My husband and daughter with this year's conference coaching award

Now that this track season is officially over, my children will be thrilled that my husband is arriving home earlier, and I'm relieved to know a whole summer of family time is around the corner. But even though track season is a challenging time for my family, I'm truly grateful for the experiences it gives my children.

Children learn so much from exploring their parents' work. Through visits and hands-on experiences, they gain far more than knowledge about a single career niche.

When I was a child, my dad started a business focused on manufacturing electronic parts. Because it was a home-based business, I was frequently able to observe and explore his workspace. He taught me about the machines and showed me how to assemble parts and circuit boards. Over the years, I learned about manufacturing, robotics, assembly work, shipping, employment, and entrepreneurship. And I watched his business grow into an extremely successful enterprise that now supports hundreds of families and non-profit ministries.

My husband's work as a teacher and coach is altogether different from my dad's career niche, yet our children can observe and benefit in equally rich ways. When we attend practices and meets, my children get to interact with fantastic teens who take them under their wing, converse with them, and teach them new games and songs.

  My son and a student athlete watching the district meet

My son and a student athlete watching the district meet

  Hanging out with another athlete (who happens to be a German exchange student)

Hanging out with another athlete (who happens to be a German exchange student)

Besides gleefully interacting with the athletes, my children are starting to understand the value of consistent practice, the joys of belonging to a team, and the thrill of cheering others on. And of course they're beginning to learn the physical skills of track and field as well, having fun in the process.

  Prepared to race a student athlete on the field

Prepared to race a student athlete on the field

  My son learning to use starting blocks

My son learning to use starting blocks

So while I'm grateful when my husband's busy coaching seasons come to a close, I also appreciate all of the ways that his work contributes to our family and to our children's lives as well as to the lives of his athletes.

Did you have frequent opportunities to explore your parents' work? What do you think your children (or students) are gaining from observing and participating in your work?