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?
It has literally taken me years to figure out that I need to make time for “the father person” to teach!!! Instead of saying “Why aren’t you helping with school?” I try and make sure they are totally free when he gets home… Man do they learn a lot!!! Car maintenance, home maintenance, computer maintenance… yes the poor man does a lot of maintenance – but his kids sure are learning how to be handy!!!
.-= se7en’s last blog: The Week that Was – 2.45 =-.
Such an important topic Renee!
I just shared an example of how my kids learn with their dad over at Steady Mom: http://www.steadymom.com/2010/04/the-link-between-enthusiasm-and-learning.html
One of my biggest challenges over the past few years is letting dad parent in general and realizing he will never do it *my* nor does he need to. We often joke at how different it must be for the kids when they have a mom day verse a dad day. Together we meld together, but as individual separate parents we interact so differently!
I’m much more likely to take out activities and read and he’s much more likely to be hands (aka playful wrestling) and imaginative. Outdoors I sit back more and he is right their jumping over streams, encouraging the kids to lift up logs and skipping rocks.
He’s also started taking our 5 year old on easy work days (he’s a stone mason) and my son comes home telling me about all the work he did and my husband confirms that he’s pretty good! I love that!
.-= hillary’s last blog: flowers13: @nailmusic Western Digital–brand of ehd =-.
This is a great post and a great practice. My husband and I have “trialed” several different methods for him to get involved with the homeschooling (we have 9 children – all of them are in 4th grade!).
We found that it doesn’t work so well for him to be directly involved in the “curriculum” – he just wasn’t that into it and finding the right times wasn’t working. We had tried to have him do the math at one point and the science at another.
What has worked wonderfully is letting him to whatever he wants to do to “enhance” the subjects that I need extra help with. He has totally catapulted our kids way past their curriculum math, making math a breezy concept for them! I can’t even get them through their math books fast enough to keep up.
For the rest of the subjects, I keep him updated on where we are and on any extra “help” I need and he adds, fluffs, compliments, and strengthens what we are working on.
As you noted, he doesn’t do it in the “way” that I would, but…I have learned to give that up and totally appreciate the value and education that he has to offer to the kids. We are a team and the kids are the winners because of it!
“he doesn’t do it in the “way” that I would, but…I have learned to give that up and totally appreciate the value and education that he has to offer to the kids. We are a team and the kids are the winners because of it!”
Exactly! 🙂 Love the way you said that – the kids are the winners!
.-= Kara Fleck’s last blog: Parenting Preschoolers: A Starting Place for Social Graces =-.
Two things the dad in our household does that really help out are to read aloud to my daughter (and sometimes my son, while I’m spending one-on-one reading time with the youngest) every single night. They always have a chapter book they’re working through together.
Another thing I love is when he asks at dinner for everyone to share something new they learned that day. If they’ve fooled around and wasted time, it kind of shows! But on a good day, we’ve had some great discussions.
.-= Hannah’s last blog: This Wasn’t Supposed to Be About Bacon =-.
I love this post! We’re in a unique situation in that I work from home and homeschool AND my husband is a stay-at-home dad. So structured learning with mom is actually a small part of their day, while they have the benefit of learning from dad the rest of the time.
One thing I love about my husband’s approach is he never “dumbs down” an idea, whether he’s talking to our 5yo or our 2yo. He always takes the time to explain what he’s doing to them, never impatiently answering, “Just fixing this” or whatever it is he’s doing. No, they don’t always understand what he’s talking about, and sometimes they ask him to explain it more (which he does), but I love to listen to them talk about the what, why and how of a house or yard project in grown-up terms.
Mandi, I find this so true in our own home as well.
Like I said in the post, we are rather traditional in our schedules but I can relate about how Dad relates to the kids. Damien challenges them with concepts, words and physical situations even. I don’t think I dumb things down for them but I probably don’t stretch them as much as he does in certain areas.
Interestingly, when I think about this it is hard to separate actual ‘ideas or knowledge’ that their dad has taught them from learning that has occured as a natural part of our life because of who my husband and I are. For example, we speak/learn French because my husband and his extended family in Africa do; my kids play sports – and I help out – because my husband’s love of sports has opened these doors to our children – and he actively encourages this; we learn about other cultures because our family is multicultural and it seems natural to want to learn more about the people we love in this way; this year I send my son to his dad for any math help b/c I don’t have the time (or choose to make the time) to relearn more advanced math concepts whereas it is part of my husband’s daily life as a math/science teacher… I guess I haven’ t wanted my husband to be too involved in schoolish stuff, per se, more just share who he is with the kids and I think that has happened in a nice way.
This is a neat post. I’m glad my husband is so involved with my kids. They learn so much just from being around him when he is doing “stuff”
oh, what a terrific topic!
I hope a lot of homeschooling fathers read this, too – it seems that there are some dads who just “leave it to mom” because they just don’t know what their role is or could be … what an encouraging post for dads and for moms! 🙂
.-= Kara Fleck’s last blog: Parenting Preschoolers: A Starting Place for Social Graces =-.
Great post Renee!
I am always amazed at how much my kids learn from my husband. Often I feel like I “play school” with them, but they learn from daddy!
.-= Jill Foley’s last blog: #202 – Today’s Forecast =-.
I love this! We have taken the approach to encourage Dad to help here, but Dad is unsure many times how. So we have Sports Sundays. From that, our son learned his multiplies of 7 from the football scores!! They have had fun discussions and even the girls have really enjoyed the time. I love my time to do those household things that never just disappear!
What about a spouse who’s not completely on board with homeschooling? Our area’s schools are terrible enough that my husband is allowing me to homeschool them, something I firmly believed in doing anyway. But he still keeps talking about “when they start ‘real’ school…” We are both certified teachers with Masters degrees, (and he’s working on his Doctorate) so it’s not a reflection on his faith in my abilitiy to teach well. And itellectually he knows that a classroom situation is less than ideal for learning. He still seems stuck on the idea that homeschooled kids are somehow “weird” and are being denied a “normal” childhood. No matter how much evidence I have shown him that “normal” isn’t good enough, he is stubbornly resistent. Any ides for getting him on board with what could turn out to be a wonderful and enriching experience for our children?
I love this post. It has always been a family decision in our house to homeschool and while my husband is the primary wage earner he is also an important part of our school. He gets the title of Principal, which I love! I can look to him for hard decisions and know he will really weigh the pros and cons and is not as emotionally attached to the way we have always done things to give me an honest opinion of changes or new curr, etc.
He also has always taught at least one subject for our kids. When we first started out he taught our oldest math because that was something they both enjoyed. As more children got to school age and that became more daily work I took over the primary teaching of math and he began teaching science. We now have four kids school age and this allows him to teach all the children together in one topic. He is a hands on dad in so many ways and it is only natural that he is in our school routine too.
Thanks for reminding us all that homeschooling is about so much more than books and lessons that WE plan and do!