Granoff’s teaching experience unexpectedly pays off in parenthood

March 21, 2020 — by Vicky Bai
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Granoff’s knowledge of child psychology helps him teach his child basic lessons and improve his methods of teaching.

As English 10 and AP Lang teacher Matt Granoff coaches for the speech and debate team after school in his classroom, he gently holds his 3-year-old daughter on his lap and keeps an extra eye on her. Some students questioned why Granoff brought his daughter to school, but for Granoff, there was no other option. 

Being the primary parent since his wife, a medical doctor, works long hours, Granoff struggles to manage his time between his two priorities: teaching and parenting. In cases where the family’s usual babysitter cannot make it, he has no other choice but to bring his daughter, Verity, to school.

“It’s stressful. My wife is a medical trainee doctor at Stanford, which is an intense part of her career right now, and my daughter needs a lot of attention, so it’s difficult to schedule things,” Granoff said. “It makes everything logistical so much harder and everything gets trickier.” 

Prior to becoming a parent, Granoff did not set expectations of how being a teacher would affect his parenting, but unexpectedly, his teaching experience has already given him an insight into child psychology. 

“I have insight on how learning works for kids because of a child psychology course I took and general knowledge that I need to have as a teacher,” Granoff said. “There are some things that are fairly common knowledge like the way object permanence works.” 

Object permanence is the idea that children realize that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen. By playing various games like peek-a-boo, he teaches her the lesson that things continue to exist even if you do not see them. 

“Object permanence is what makes peek-a-boo so fun,” Granoff said. “The child will be surprised when what is behind the hands still exists even if the child cannot see what is behind the hands.” 

Since becoming a parent, Granoff has become increasingly aware of psychological facts regarding how children’s brains process at different levels depending on age.

Aside from learning psychological theories for both his child and his students, Granoff finds he has a stronger understanding of empathy and better appreciation for his students. 

“Having a kid has given me opportunities to consciously put my empathy into practice where I would otherwise get frustrated with behavior,” Granoff said. “My kid is a lot more frustrating than students can ever hope to be. I always try to find a balance between being empathetic to students and agreeing with students.” 

However, Granoff ultimately believes that although he has a clearer understanding of children, he aims for empathy in his teaching and parenting style.

 “It is my job as a parent and a teacher to guide these children,” Granoff said. “Even though teaching and parenting can be exhausting, both are rewarding in the end.”

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