Q&A Friday: How is Dad involved in your family’s homeschool?

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

I know of a few stay-at-home homeschooling fathers, dads who take on the majority of official teaching duties or co-teach throughout the day with their spouses. It always warms my heart to hear of fathers devoting their time to families in this way. But for the most part, it still seems like the majority of teaching responsibilities in a homeschool often resides with mothers.

Occasionally I hear dissatisfaction or questions about this from moms/wives:

“How can I get my husband more involved with our days at home?”

“How can I get my children to view my spouse as an active participant in our homeschool–even though he spends most of his day away at work?”

In our home, Steve typically leaves before breakfast and returns before dinner, spending most of his day at the office for his job with Love146.

He doesn’t have any scheduled teaching duties at home, but he is excellent at providing inspiration for our lifestyle of learning–answering kids’ questions that arise during evenings and weekends, sharing about his work and the mission behind it.

This involvement definitely benefits our homeschooling life. His overall support is far more important to me than, say, doing a math worksheet at the kitchen table with kids. In this way we’ve found what works best for us.

Here’s my question to you today:

How does it work in your home? Is your husband involved in teaching? Does he manage specific subjects? Do you wish he could be more involved? Have you found a balance that works for your family?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.

Comments

  1. My husband teaches math. I hate math so this works out rather well

  2. My husband isn’t involved at all. He helps out by working hard and providing for us so I can stay home with the kidlets (my goal in life!)
    Leslie’s latest post: My Favorite Autumn Decor

  3. My husband has a “class” Monday night with our kids, about 1/2 hour each. He does history with our son and gives him schedule of assignments to complete during the week, and he is doing a Spanish class with our daughter. These are easy subjects for him to teach and it really helps me out. Plus, he gets to stay in touch with what is going on in our homeschool. I work as his assistant in making needed copies and ordering curriculum when needed. Then during his class time, I run errands or read a book. Works out great for everyone.

  4. - putting away dishes and laundry which helps to keep me sane
    - playing/running with the kids at night for Daddy time
    - Daddy Math with my 3rd grader to reinforce math facts because he needed extra help. We just started this. We’re trying to have him do 10 min. of flash cards/speed drills after dinner with Dad because he needed some extra work.
    - I agree with Leslie-just by working hard all day he helps because I don’t have to worry about it and can focus on being home
    CharityHawkins@TheHomeschoolExperiment.com‘s latest post: Ridiculously Simple Autumn Leaf Art

  5. My husband wears many hats but they don’t fall under ‘academic’ so much as ‘practical’. He researches and learns on his own time and shares those findings with our kids with things like woodwork, survival training, and generally outdoors things (even has taught them how to ride a bike and how to play tennis!). He plays rough-house with them (PE, right?), and takes them on walks in every kind of weather, almost daily.
    He is also the go-to Bible man if someone has a question, and a night-time kisser, hugger, and bed-tucker-inner. All things perhaps not ‘school’ related in the normal sense, but all wonderful things to model and learn from.
    Sarah M
    Sarah M’s latest post: Visual Monday: Knitting

  6. I’ve enjoyed reading the comments, because I think that perhaps I have downplayed the role my husband has in homeschooling. He, too, is our go-to Bible guy, but also can answer any questions about geography or history. This year our 9th grade daughter is taking on some heavy literature. I have enjoyed listening to him impart his wisdom, for sure! However, he is still not sure what grade they’re each in, hahaha.
    Kara’s latest post: Peace of Mind a.k.a Calgon Moments

  7. We’re in our 14th year of homeschooling, so my husband’s involvement has changed over the years. When the kids were small he used our list of ‘free reads’ to choose read-alouds for bedtime. One year he did our geography readings with two of the kids and drew huge maps that were hung on our kitchen wall and added to as they read through their books. He is in charge of things like art (he’s an ‘artist at heart’ who has to work an office job to pay the bills :), woodworking, gardening, and field trips. He now helps the kids with their math since I never had a problem in math as a student but have a difficult time explaining concepts.

    He has always been very supportive but short on time, so we didn’t worry too much about getting him more involved in the actual teaching- he’s our cheerleader and biggest supporter, which is invaluable. I think, though, that the biggest contribution he makes is his interest- he asks questions, initiates conversations, reads what the kids are reading so that they can discuss the books, and so much more. The kids know that Dad is genuinely interested in their education and they know they can always ask questions or for help finding out more about something that interests them- something their slightly frazzled mom doesn’t always have time for :)

  8. My partner is very involved as I work full-time and his small business is seasonal. I create big picture planning, bring resources into the home and we meet weekly to talk about details and ideas. A lot of our focused homeschooling is done right after dinner so we’re both there tag teaming the kids, but he’s doing the day to day creative life learning and he does an excellent job of it!
    Hillary’s latest post: Why I Chose Midwives (Video)

  9. This is a great topic.

    I help out where my gifts are. I grade all the math (which is about 60% of the grading load) and teach it to the older kids. I also teach logic and religion. We split teaching science – I teach physics and astronomy, my wife teaches the rest. I’m involved in the decision-making, and disciplining of our students.

    I also wrote a homeschool planner, because neither of us liked the ones available.

  10. My husband is very involved emotionally. He may be at work all day (at a very demanding job), but the minute he walks in the door, he asks the girls to tell him what they learned that day and answers new questions they might have, etc. He is also a great sounding board for me, because he and I will sit down together and I’ll describe what we’ve been doing, and he offers feedback and support, suggestions and questions. And we email each other education links from the news all the time. He is a software developer, so as the girls grow, he is going to contribute in a much more substantial, concrete way as the girls get older and they are ready to begin getting involved in technology. When they reach that stage, he will be teaching them all about computer hardware and software, building computers, building Websites, how to use the Web, etc. He also wants to be very involved in their advanced math/science/technology education later on, as well as lots of practical life things he’s good at/we think is important, like car repair and maintenance, etc. So he contributes a lot now (our girls are 5 and 2), but he has real plans to share his gifts as the girls grow and the need for more involvement from him emerges. Honestly, I’m just doing kindergarten/”pre-school” right now and feel like I have it covered. But since we are largely inspired by unschooling, my husband’s involvement is a natural part of the girls’ day-to-day learning experiences (trips in our community and museums, etc.–all of that my husband does as much as I do.)

  11. I must admit, I have one of the most supportive husbands in the world. He is always asking “what can I do?” And sometimes, that is all I need. As far as the actual “homeschool” part of our lives, he does:

    -our weekly Bible verse
    -our daily Bible readings
    -and reads them a story before bed

    When he comes home from work, usually around 5, it is his time with the kids while I get dinner ready. That is when he asks detailed questions about their day and looks over their school work. If I am ever behind, he jumps right in after dinner and helps with whatever I need. Usually math lessons or listening as the kids read.

    He is also a great soundboard. If I am ever want to bounce some ideas around or want to talk about where are kids are at or what they need to be working on, I have his undivided attention.

    All in all, his is available for anything I need to help this be a sucessful journey for our family!
    Melissa’s latest post: Pajama Day!

  12. My husband is definitely an equal partner in what we’re learning! I think I’m REALLY blessed. Specifically, since we’re life learners, it’s not a matter of subjects so much as that our daughter picks up on new interests and shares her own interests with both of us depending on what it is, you know?

    In particular, though, he’s AMAZING at finding a book or movie on any topic Sarah’s interested in. We call him “homeschool A/V guy” because he’s so good at it, actually!
    Joan’s latest post: Screen learning: Some of our recent movie finds

  13. My husband owns his own business as a diesel technician and is a great source of information on math and physical science. He works really hard and comes home covered in grease and oil so I can stay home with our two and homeschool the 6 year old. He does occasional math sheets and is always patient with our son’s many questions about anything with wheels, gears and motors. He makes sure to accompany most of our field trips and he reads to the kids every single night. Although, I would sometimes appreciate if he taught some language arts or history, but I also realize he is doing everything that he can and that I am blessed to have an active and supportive husband and dad to my children. It’s what works for us even though my husband has a physical labor job. Did I mention he also makes sure he’s home in time to attend our son’s soccer practices? He’s great :o)

  14. Kathleen K says:

    My husband’s role has changed over the 10 years we’ve been homeschooling and will continue to evolve as our family grows. He is the sole financial supporter for the family, so I am selective in how we use his “at-home” time. (The boys and I work hard during the day to get as many chores done so Dad doesn’t have to.) He is very supportive and listens when I need to bounce ideas off him, his feedback is excellent. He teaches Bible in the evenings. He strives to spend some one-on-one time with each of our 3 boys, if not daily, then every weekend. (Some days are just too rushed and too short.) He helps with math when my explanations don’t make sense.

    I could go on and on, but I need to get a tissue. I’m so blessed by this man, and thankful the Lord saw fit to put us together!

  15. My husband works so I can stay home and teach :)

    In the past, he has done weekly science experiments with the kids, but now they take science at our weekly co-op. He asks about what the kids learned every night at dinner, has the kids work with him on home care tasks, is a willing participant in occasional weekend field trips.

    He trusts me to research and choose what we learn and how, but is available for me to bounce ideas off him when needed.

    I think what he does is just right. His paid job keeps a lot of his time tied up, but living life with us in an intentional way keeps him an active participant in what we’re doing at home.

    • I should say my husband also manages his expectations as far as housework goes, and helps when things I would normally do get pushed aside for schooling. In our family, this looks much different than if I were a SAHM to kids in the school system.

  16. Both my husband and I are athletic, but he shines in this department. I love that he will play endless amounts of tennis, basketball, baseball, or soccer. Take them on bike rides, runs, or swim four hours in the freezing cold public pool.

  17. My homeschooling sister, sisters in law, and I wrote a post about this very topic earlier this spring for our NextGen Homeschool blog (we are four formerly homeschooled moms now homeschooling our “next generation”): http://nextgenhomeschool.com/2012/03/13/ask-a-nextgen-homeschooler-what-role-does-dad-play/

    My husband and two sisters in law were all homeschooled by their father while mom worked, which was pretty unique back then. Today all four of us share our current homeschooling load with our husbands in various ways, but are still the primary teachers ourselves.
    Renee Gotcher’s latest post: Starting a Homeschool Co-Op: Girls Book Club, Day One

  18. I forgot to share the link from my sister-in-law’s post about what it was like to be homeschooled by her father:
    http://nextgenhomeschool.com/2011/10/17/what-role-can-dads-play-in-the-homeschool/
    Renee Gotcher’s latest post: Starting a Homeschool Co-Op: Girls Book Club, Day One

  19. We are new homeschooling, my kids are still little, age 3 and 4.5. Currently I spend about 1 hour every evening doing school work with the kids. My husband leaves most of the formal teaching to me but he does still play a major role in their education.

    He is teaching them tool use, he does a variety of fun projects, such as making fossils out of plaster and then letting them break them apart with hammers. He has a much stronger science background than I do, and he answers some of my 4 year old science questions that I struggle to answer adequately at a 4 year old level. Such as how does electricity work, how does glue make things stick together….. Every evening he has video time with the boys. They watch old home videos, along with various things on YouTube. He will often find a You Tube video for them on topics they ask about. Such as how is string cheese made?, What sound does a (bunny, giraffe, fox….) make?

    He has big plans for them for the future. He owns rental property and wants to get the boys houses to fix up and take care of (when they are a bit older).

    Once I get them reading, writing and doing basic math, he plans on having them apply those skills to a variety of real life situation.

  20. We are still a few years out from homeschooling, but even with a toddler we can both see that my husband is a pretty gifted teacher and he happens to be incredibly smart. He also happens to be really enthusiastic about the idea of homeschool so my et is once we start he will want his hand all over the process. Well as much as he can working full time.

  21. My husband did almost half the teaching. He died over the summer, so now I have to make up for his participation. There are some classes I just can’t teach. :(

  22. I’m really blessed. My husband has offered to change his day off from Friday (when we’re usually at co-op) to Thursday. He said he would teach anything I wanted him to. Since we do Waldorf-inspired homeschooling, I’m going to use the first three days of the week for a three-day main lesson cycle, and then have him do spelling tests, piano lessons, and recorder on Thursday, and beyond that he can do anything he wants. He’s a big history fan, so I’m hoping he does something with that. He also wants to take some field trips. This leaves me free to plan, do any marketing, write, and blog!
    Annette’s latest post: Autumn Spice Dough and Seasons of Joy

  23. Raven, I am so sorry to hear about your husband. I can only begin to imagine the emotions and challenges you are facing. How old are your children?

    My husband also does about half of our home schooling – mainly upper level math and science plus a lot of grading and other admin. There is no way I could do this well by myself. Our older five have graduated, and we have four home schooled and one in public school.

  24. I have several adult children and one homeschooled 9 yo. My husband and I worked well together–he was great at social science/humanity subjects, and I am a mathy person myself.

  25. My husband doesn’t have any ongoing official involvement. He asks the girls at dinner what they did during schooltime in the morning. Sometimes I will prep him about a big accomplishment or what we covered, so he can lead that conversation a bit better. He is great about reading books with the kids in the evening. I recently asked if he would mind doing a few geography lessons soon. I’m not confident about how to start what I’m wanting to do, and I thought it would be a fun time for him and our daughter (making maps of our house, neighborhood, town). He thought that would be fun too so he’s going to do it, but it’s not an ongoing role.
    Kelliie’s latest post: A fly on the wall

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