When we made the decision to homeschool our kids several years ago, I remember having all kinds of ideals and expectations about the way our days would be spent. My mind and heart were filled with dreams of early morning breakfasts in our pajamas followed by fun filled bible devotions. Next we’d head to our evenly spaced colorful floor mats for circle time where we’d sing songs and learn about the days of the week and read a sweet story about the seasons. Then our days would be filled with art projects, healthy snacks, creative lessons and exciting field trips….all while maintaining good attitudes, a clean house (because of course the children would help clean up) and actions reflecting love for one another at all times. Then once Dad came home, we’d all greet him cheerfully and spend our evenings learning together as a family before ending our days with prayers and a good night’s sleep for everyone.
These were all good things, but then we actually began homeschooling and quickly learned that homeschooling is messy…and I’m thankful. The chaos and reality of our days spent at home learning together is where the character qualities we desire for us and our children, are built. Dads have such a huge role in this.
If we truly want to embrace this lifestyle of learning, then we need to remember that Dads can and should be very much a part of the homeschooling journey. And if you’re like my family, as many are, Dad is away from home much of the day, working. He comes home around dinner time, spends a few hours with the family and then it’s bedtime. Some Dads work from home while others often travel. Some are in and out of the house throughout the day, some parents share the wage earning and there are those whose spouses are in the military protecting our freedoms. Whatever your family dynamic, shared family homeschooling is possible and so rewarding! All that’s required is prayer, creativity and a surrender of our own ideals for what ever God’s perfect plan is for our families.
Here are a few ways we include and are sharing the homeschooling journey with Dad:
Let him do it his way: If I were to ask my husband to engage in teaching a Language Arts or History lesson from MY lesson plan, with the curriculum we’re using, I would quickly see his eyes glaze over. I know this because, sadly, I’ve asked my sweet husband to do this. I’ve learned that he has a gift for teaching his sons things in ways that I can’t. He engages them differently for a reason…a beautiful reason. God made him that way. So, instead of trying to direct our husbands to teach or connect in a certain way….encourage him by letting him do it his way. Moms and Dads should agree on the overarching learning goals for their children, but uniquely teaching them according to their skills, interests and giftings is all part of the beauty of homeschooling.
HIGH-LOW and Show and Tell: Learning doesn’t stop at a certain time of the day. It’s ongoing. No matter what kind of day we’ve had at home, our second wind kicks in at the anticipation of Dad’s arrival. My boys get so excited to see their Daddy, to share their day with him after missing him all day. We make it a priority to eat together as many nights of the week as possible, even if that means rearranging things to make that happen. My husband will often announce “HIGH-LOW”. This means, “tell me about your day by describing the highest and lowest points of your day”. This will often lead to “Show and Tell” time from each of our boys. Both of these are great opportunities for Dads to hear what’s on their kids’ hearts and learn about the things they learned that day.
Weekend Learning: Weekends (or any larger amounts of “off-time”) are an excellent time to allow Dads to lead the way with the activities and educational opportunities. I love to see my kids revel in the outdoor projects my husband comes up with. He includes them in all the general yard and home maintenance along with the many building/carpentry projects around our house. My husband is a great cook and really enjoys cooking outdoors especially and loves teaching his sons all about the cooking process.
What are his favorite subjects?: Consider what subject areas your husband enjoys and then look for ways to let him fulfill his interests while teaching the kids at the same time. For instance, my husband loves Science, History and Geography. So, when we are working on these subjects, I make sure to get great books at the library that he can read to the kids. Netflix is also a great place for History and Science related content. Often, we save great videos that fit in with our lessons for time spent with Dad in the evenings or on weekends. And I make sure there is never a shortage of the basics on hand for cool science experiments we can all do together.
Outdoor Adventure Club: My husband has a fierce love for the outdoors which he loves to share with myself and our boys. I consider, as does he, ANY outdoor activity a part of learning. Two summers ago we decided to make a conscious effort to begin exploring new places consistently, in addition to all of our favorite spots. This was exciting for our boys and always made for lots of real-life learning. Since then, anytime we get outside to recreate, we call it the Outdoor Adventure Club.
Family Nights: Every night at our house is family night, but there are some nights that we make plans ahead of time to include a more structured evening. Two of our favorite family night activities are playing games together and having fun family devotions. Having games on hand and even finding some fun new ones online that can be recreated are a great way to extend learning and enjoy time together. And our favorite Bible devotions come from the Family Nights Tool Chest series. There are many books in this series, made for all ages. We love them because they are action packed, based on object lessons and there’s minimal preparation involved.
Pray and Communicate: When we first started homeschooling, a wise and seasoned homeschooling mother shared with me how her husband and her took a mini retreat every year for the sole purpose of talking and praying through the personal and educational goals of their kids. I know how difficult it can be to get away with your husband. But, I took this to heart. For us, this means we make specific time as we can to talk about and pray for each one of our sons with regard to their education, their character and the young men God created them to be. It helps us to be united and on the same page for the sake of our children and our marriage.
The gift of time given to a Dad to enjoy his family and embrace his God-given role as leader and teacher is priceless. How do you honor you husbands and share the teaching role with them?