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As a second-generation homeschooler, I know how important it is for both parents to be actively involved in their children's education. But, as a second-generation homeschooler, I have seen first-hand how hard it is for Dads to find the time for anything that isn't absolutely essential. The children need a house over their heads. Check. They need food on the table. Check. They need clothes on their backs. Check. The roof needs repairing. Check. The oil needs changing. Check. The neighbor needs help with his lawn mower. Check. The kids need help with homework. Checkâ€¦er, well, anyway, Mom's got it covered.
It's not like Dad sits around and does nothing all evening. In fact, that's part of the perceived problem. If Dad had nothing else to do, it would be easy to find the time to teach science or math. The fact is, Dad has other responsibilities than just going to work and coming home. Moms have been complaining for decades that their work is "never done." But who fixes the cars when they break down? Who knows where to find the shut-off valve when the water heater starts dumping water on the laundry-room floor? Who drives an hour out of his way when a family member's car breaks down out of town - two days in a row - once to retrieve said family member, and once to fix the vehicle well enough to bring it home?
Dad's role in the family: what does God have in mind?
Dad has a desire to help out with homeschooling - it's such a big part of his kids' lives, after all.
The problem: Due to having only one income in a two-income world, Dad spends a lot of time at work. When he gets home, there are things that need doing and feet that need relaxing. How can Dad be an important part of homeschooling when he doesn't have any time?
The solution: Instead of pulling your hair out trying to figure out ways to get Dad involved with the kids, get the kids involved with Dad! How is he going to spend his time in the afternoons? Now, figure out a way to let the kids help out, or watch, while Dad explains things to them. The funny thing about explaining things: sometimes you discover things you didn't even know you knew. While you're trying to come up with an explanation, the gears start turning, and you figure out why things work the way they do, etc. Ian once asked me what a pancake was. I told him it was a cake you fry in a pan instead of baking - simple enough answer, but I had never thought of it until he asked me!
Start with a personal story or anecdote - go into a how-to article.
In addition, I noticed a shortage of articles concerning homeschool dads. My husband is gone for more than twelve hours every day, so I have to think of creative ways to get him involved. Naturally, I can't expect him to find time to teach an entire subject, but my son does enjoying "showing off" what he has accomplished each day. We keep a bulletin board for art, math, etc. In addition, my husband sometimes spends an hour or two a week (sometimes on weekends) doing extra-curricular activities with my son. While still considered educational, they are not a formal part of his curriculum. I think it is important that my son realizes that his education is a priority for our entire family.
Make it enjoyable for dad. Make sure everything is done and in order when he comes home.
It is important to allow your children to see you invest time into your own projects and personal development. Allow them to observe, and answer any questions that may come up. Allow them to help, if possible.
Allow dad to teach (or expound) upon the topics that truly interest him. He won't feel as though his short evening is being wasted - or that it is even a burden. Allow him to have fun teaching by having all the materials prepared. Some dads may enjoy teaching math or one of the other core subjects, but others may find it more enjoyable to delve into something such as electronics, model building (learn to read blueprints and plans - even legos!).
Since my son has to read every day, it made sense to me at first to allow my husband to read with him on weekends. However, my husband has never been an avid reader, and I soon discovered that it was harder for him to focus on a first-grade reader than it was for my son! So that brings me to the question: exactly how can I get my husband involved? I want Jesse and Ian to explore new horizons together - to share in the joy of learning something new.
If you want to make things fun for dad (and this feeling will hopefully transfer to your children), allow him to teach things that he is naturally interested in. For instance, my husband is big into the creation/evolution debate, mechanics, and lately, home improvement. If you take a peek into your husband's past, you may find other areas that would be beneficial - for instance, building models or electronics. Computer skills. Woodshop? Engine swap? What interests did he have as a young man? You may discover things about him that you didn't even know! Woodshop! Even if he hasn't thought about these things in years, chances are, the prospect of helping his son (or his daughter) enjoy these things will brighten his day. After all, many things your husband can teach will be practical in the long run. 1040s for high-schoolers. Your husband does know how to survive in the real world, after all, and isn't the point of homeschooling to prepare your children for life?
Many people have the idea that education comprises math, science, social studies, geography, grammar, and reading. In reality, if the public schools manage to do a good job teaching just those subjects, I am impressed. But as homeschoolers, we know better. First of all, we include Bible studies as being core to our children's education. We also know that a lot of education is teaching our children to become responsible adults. Before there were schools in this country, that's what education was all about. And that's what today's society has lost. In general, parents depend so much on the school system to teach their children everything they need to know, that they forget to prepare them for life. My husband didn't even learn his colors until he started attending kindergarten. I was amazed when I heard this, but even more amazed when he told me that he was one of many children who learned their colors in school. What were their parents doing? Does it make them lazy knowing that the school system is going to do their job for them? Anyway, all this is beside the point. The point is, there is a lot more to a well-rounded education than the core subjects suggest.
Dads who aren't interested in teaching core subjects can still fulfill the role of teacher in their children's lives.
How would Dad usually spend his free time in the evenings and on weekends? Is there any way to get the kids involved and turn it into an educational experience? Would a little planning and foresight make a difference in your child's experiences with Dad?
How would Dad like to spend his free time if he could unglue himself from the entertainment industry for a an extra hour or two? Would he learn a new skill himself? Guitar? Make this a group effort.
What about errands and things that need to be done around the house? Can some real-life lessons be taught?
By incorporating the things that Dad already has to do into your curriculum, your child can learn practical skills and a few hobbies without cutting into Dad's already small amount of time.
What electives did Dad take in high school and college? Are there any that he has always wanted to explore further? A language? Journalism? Creative writing?
Mom's job can be to find ways to make the topic age-appropriate. To tie the information into other subjects - reading (find reading material relating to topic), equations relating to topic, history or science of topic, job fields relating to topic. Use the topic in story problems for smaller children. Give them something to relate to in their math, and make them think about math when exploring topic. What is this called cross-curricular training or something like that. On top of adding to the learning of the topic itself, the study of its history or real-life applications may pique your child's interest in core subject areas. They may realize that if history or science or math can be interesting for one topic, it may be worth looking into for more. Don't forget to include writing assignments on the topics. Take a good topic, and give specific ideas for using it across the curriculum for different age levels - Homeschool Enrichment pg. 36 & 37.
Look into high school and college elective courses for ideas. Look into hobbies for ideas. These could make good sidebars. Figure out ways to tie topics into regular subjects. Don't forget about teaching Bible. Dad's who are spiritual leaders in their families may find this topic a good fit, especially if they already teach Bible as a family. Unit studies - each family member can research something relating to Bible study or any other topic, for that matter. Projects can be worked on during the day with mom, and reviewed by dad.
Think of ways that dad can critique and comment and praise child's work for the day. A showcase at the end of every day or week, showing off the child's favorite studies for the week, or a progress sheet. Maybe Dad can set challenges or goals to be met, rewarded by extra time with him or another incentive, material or not - extra hour before bed on weekend, extra hour playing video games, small toy, ice cream, a round of checkers together, etc.
How did my dad get involved? Avid reader who loved to learn, always looking something up (etymology), always exclaiming how interesting something was or how it all added up! "It just makes sense when you thing about it!" Prayed aloud and read his Bible - set an example that he wanted us to follow. What kind of man/woman do you want your child to be? Now, BE that man or woman and set the example. Dad used real equations to teach me to always do the same thing to both sides of an equation. Practical examples of real-life problems and solutions.
Poll others and see how their husbands get involved. Do I tell them upfront that I'm working on an article? I'm on assignment (sort of), but they will only print it if it suits the needs of their readership. I'm looking for practical advice that they can use every day and implement this afternoon!
When you lay on your death-bed. Will you be thinking, I wish I could have beaten every installment of â€¦ or If only I could have seen every episode of â€¦? Probably not. Chances are, you will be wishing that you had found more time to spend with your kids. If television is a necessary winding-down strategy before bedtime, maybe you can watch kid-friendly, and even educational programs before the kids go to bed. Many educational programs are entertaining, even for adults. Better yet, save it completely until after they are asleep.