If you are like “the average” homeschooling family, one parent is largely responsible for the day-to-day schooling while the other is the primary wage earner.
Most often Mom is the one at home overseeing the education while Dad is working outside the home. I don’t think this particular arrangement is ideal, but it is the situation many homeschoolers find ourselves in.
Dads (and mothers who are the primary wage earners) can and should be involved in the family homeschool.
It’s vitally important for children to have both parents active in their learning.
We are like many homeschooling families with Mom at home and Dad at work. But just because Dad’s not home during the day doesn’t mean he isn’t engaged in our children’s education.
With some creative approaches to learning and simple time management we’ve found ways for Dad to play a significant part in homeschool life.
1. Make time for Dad.
Identify the times that Dad is home and set aside those hours, as much as possible, for Dad-directed learning.
What does this look like?
It will be different for each family, depending on the ages of your children and work schedules. Essentially though, you want to make the time that Dad is home as open as possible for the learning he wishes to do with the children.
I have all day with the kids. That is my time to do what I think is important for their education – library visits, projects, field trips and a small amount of structured learning.
Photo by Renee Tougas
When my husband comes home from a day at work it’s his turn to do what he thinks is important with the kids. My role in this is to structure our days to make this happen.
In short, I aim (though not always succeed) to finish the things I want to accomplish with them before Dad gets home–this includes “schoolish” activities and home care.
2. Let Dad do as Dad does.
You may think from what I just said that Dad comes home, opens up the books and starts reading. Hardly!
It will be no surprise to learn that Dad does things differently than mom.
What my husband wants to share with our children, his interest in computer programming, for example, is not contrary to what I’m helping them learn during the day–but it is different. That’s the beauty of team teaching.
The overarching learning goals you have as a family should be shared by both parents. But how Dad and Mom go about facilitating the learning will be unique.
Photo by Renee Tougas
One of the things I loved most in my recent reading of Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning was the importance the authors place on inspiration.
Let Dad teach the things he is inspired about.
- Does Dad like remote controlled vehicles? Encourage him in building one with the kids.
- Does Dad like playing music? Spend evenings learning how to play music together.
- Does Dad like the outdoors? Plan a weekend hike and read adventure stories.
3. Support Dad-Directed Learning.
If you are the mother at home while Dad is working you have the privilege of spending a lot of time with your children, something not afforded to your partner. Additionally, you have the ability to direct your family’s day to accomplish what is important to you.
As much as possible you should incorporate Dad’s educational values into your everyday.
You can do this in a variety of ways:
Look for ways to add Dad’s interests to the curriculum.
An easy way to do this is to read books together that support what Dad is doing with the kids. For us that means reading outdoor adventure stories and learning about nature.
Look for the educational value in Dad’s interests.
Almost every hobby, sport or activity teaches us something. Does Dad really like sports? Do some math studies around statistics or study the geography of team home towns.
Get excited about it.
Children are well aware when people just “go along with it” instead of embracing ideas. Don’t grumble about supporting Dad’s interest in water buffalo migration–start planning a virtual African safari. Being enthusiastic will endear the hearts of your children and the heart of your husband.
Those of us who nurture all day can sometimes be too nurturing (or maybe that’s just me). I am learning how to step back, trust my husband and go with it. He has an ability to encourage our children to grow and stretch in ways I don’t. I am sometimes amazed at the things they do together, physically or intellectually–things I didn’t think my kiddos were ready for.
Photo by Renee Tougas
Learning time with Dad is a gift we give our children. All we need to do is choose to make the time and support our spouse’s interests.
How do you encourage Dad to be involved in your homeschool?