Last week we talked about different homeschool models and how they work for a variety of families. This week I want to focus on how the non-primary teaching parent can support the family’s homeschool program. We will discuss in terms of the mother as the primary teacher, but this is only for discussion purposes, dads of course are often homeschool teachers as well and we highly value their contributions.
While each parent wants to feel valued and appreciated; this is especially true for the primary homeschool parent. This parent’s contribution to the family can sometimes be overlooked and undervalued, but these parents make numerous sacrifices to stay at home with their children and teach them daily. Their love and devotion to their children should be acknowledged and respected. Learning your spouses love language is crucial to helping your family stay strong.
Homeschooling isn’t easily and will be stressful at times. While spending the majority of your day with your child can be very rewarding, it can also become overwhelming if you’re never given a break. Thus it is important to carve out some time when you can help your children’s mom feel extra loved. “When your spouse’s emotional love tank is full and he(or she) feels secure in your love, the whole world looks bright and your spouse will move out to reach his (or her) highest potential in life” (Chapman, p.34).
Have at least one date night a month
Find a trusted sitter and spend some alone time with mom. It is very important for homeschool families not to revolve around their school lives or the lives of their children. Enjoying date night once a month can help you both cultivate your love. Enjoying yourselves together is important to maintain a relationship that continues to grow and build. W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, and Jeffrey Dew, a faculty fellow of the project who teaches at Utah State University conducted a study were they reported that “couples who engage in novel activities that are fun, active or otherwise arousing – from hiking to dancing to travel to card games – enjoy higher levels of relationship quality. (Gibson, 2012)”
Include dad in educational decisions
Could you use more support? Do you want your husband to believe in homeschool as much as you do? Do you want him to know how much your children are thriving? Make sure dad knows what your children are learning. Wayne S. Walker a minister and homeschool dad writes in his article, Advice for Homeschool Dads, “it might be good for Mom and Dad to sit down, look over the curriculum choices, and select what they, together, feel is the best choice” (Walker, 2011). Choosing a curriculum together may not be ideal for your family, but finding a way to include dad is in the best interest of your homeschool. Some states require parents to share a portfolio with the state, but even if your state doesn’t require a homeschool portfolio review, giving dad an opportunity to know what each child is learning is just as important as parent teacher conferences are in a public school setting. You can have formal scheduled talks about your kids progress or you can casually discuss your children’s learning once a week or once a month. No parent should feel completely left out of your families homeschool lives.
Present what the children are learning
All kids need to practice public speaking, one way to get them started is to have presentation night for dad. This is a great opportunity for dad to see what your kids are learning and for dad to compliment and provide constructive criticism. You can also display work from your child proudly in your home. This will allow dad to view their assignments and it will help your kid know that you’re proud of their work.
Read a books with the kids
When my kids were first introduced to chapter books they read the Box Car Children with their dad at night before bed. Reading together is not complicated; especially if you pick the books before hand. This is also a great way for dad to have alone time with each child. Sometimes struggling readers may even do better with help from the other parent because no two people learn the same way and the other parent may be able to unlock a love for reading that you can’t. When our daughters were babies, my husband was working on his MBA. I was usually exhausted from caring for our twins and I needed his help. He had to study and spend time with our girls at the same time, in order to do both, he would read his papers and books to our girls, they listened just as intently as if he were reciting nursery rhymes to them. Brigham Young University published tips for dads on their website. One of the tips states, “Fathers reading to children is one of the very best ways to reverse the academic ambivalence we’re seeing in young boys” (BYU) So dads reading to their kid can even help them achieve more success in school.
Game night with dad
Kids love games. They love the excitement and competition. Game night with dad will help dad bond with the kids and have fun at the same time. The games doesn’t have to be educational, it just needs to one that they can all enjoy together.
Go hiking or camping
While not all dads are outdoorsmen hiking and camping can be a great way for dads to bond with their children. Children usually develop a close bond with the primary homeschool parent but going out together will give dad a chance to take the lead, share outdoor safety information, and make new parent-child memories. Being outdoors is also a great time to review school work and do science projects.
Watch a movie and discuss it with dad
Children want to know that they matter in their parents lives. Movie nights are perfect opportunities to hang out together and talk. Talking about the movie is free conversation material. You can use this as an opportunity to point out things related to their schoolwork in the movie or TV show.
Let dad teach a subject or lead out in an activity
In our home, dad helps our daughters practice their music lessons. Dad takes them to their music lessons and makes sure they practice during the week. If the non-primary parent is more knowledgeable about a subject, allow that parent to share with knowledge with the children.
Write letters to dad
Kids often want to show and tell their parents how much they love them. A letter is a way to do both. Kids can practice their handwriting by writing a letter to their dad. It could be a thank you letter or about what they like in school, their hobbies, or anything that the chid wants to tell his or her dad. Who knows, dad may cherish the letters for years to come.
Encourage dad to share one of his hobbies with the kids
Dads have many talents ands kids often want to get to know us better. Dads can spend time doing something they really enjoy with their kids, this is a good way for kids to know more about their dads likes and dislikes which can strengthen their friendship. My husband enjoys working on his cars, and my daughters enjoy learning about the different car parts by spending time with him in the garage. In an article on parenting.com the author writes:
“Let’s face it: If you ask your child point-blank “What’s new?” or “How do you feel about such and such?” you are often going to get a shrug or a grunt. But it is in those quiet moments when you are both working toward the same goal that thoughts and connections will rise to the surface. (Levine)
Reader Response: Feel free to share other ways dad can help support your homeschool family?
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— Cleverly Changing (@Cleverlychangin) November 25, 2015