Ten Ways to Include Dad in Your Homeschool DayApril Elstrom
As with many homeschool families, my husband is our primary financial provider, our principal, and our biggest cheer leader. It would be impossible for us to homeschool without his unwavering support; however, he is rarely able to be involved in our school day. It’s understandable, with the hours he works, that he occasionally forgets what grade our children are in, and doesn’t recall the curriculum they’re using. At least he remembers their ages and birth dates.
I know we aren’t the only family in this situation. So, here are ten ideas to include Dad in your homeschool. Some of these ideas come from our own homeschool experiences, and some are borrowed from friends. Hopefully you’ll find a few ideas that will work for you.
Ten Ways to Include Dad in Your Homeschool
Annual Review – Make a date with your husband to review your finished school year and plan for the next year. Whether you can set aside a whole day for this, or need to break it into several evenings, it’s important to work through this with your husband. How did the school year go? What successes have you had? Were there struggles that need to be addressed? What goals do you have for the new year? Do you need to make curriculum changes? Dad may not do the daily teaching in your homeschool, but he should be part of the planning process.
Problem Solving – Your homeschool year has been moving along nicely, and then you hit a snag. One subject isn’t working, your schedule is rushed, or attitude issues arise that are creating stress each day. Our first reaction is usually to run to our homeschool friends to vent and seek advice and encouragement. Instead, we should confide in our husband and listen to his suggestions. Sometimes his solutions will feel wrong, but trust him. He knows your family better than anyone else, and his insight is valuable.
Grading – I’ve missed out on this particular gem. My children have told me that another family we know has Dad do all the grading each evening. I’ve had my husband help me catch up on math grading when I’m extremely behind, but he hasn’t helped with it on a regular basis. If Mom is busy getting supper ready or supervising after dinner chores, Dad can help out by grading assignments. What better way to keep Dad aware of his children’s progress, their grades, their curriculum than to have him grade their work each week?
Pop Quizzes – My husband loves to quiz our children on their math facts. He has always asked them to do mental math while we’re riding along in the car. He starts off simple for the younger children, and asks increasingly hard questions to challenge the older children. If you let your husband know what you’re studying, he can quiz children on parts of a flower, or the solar system during dinner. You may have to provide some facts for him to quiz them on, but it’s a great way to involve him in your day and reinforce important facts from your children’s lessons – but, remember to keep it light and fun.
Readalouds – I’m not very good at reading aloud to my children once they are ready for chapter books. Every year I tell myself I’m going to improve, making reading books aloud to the children a higher priority, but nothing really changes. If you’re similarly challenged, why not ask your husband to read aloud in the evenings? It can be challenging to begin (as we discover every Advent season), but it’s rewarding. This can be a special bonding time for the family before bed each night.
Show and Tell – At least once a week my husband will quiz the children on their schoolwork. He’ll ask them to share one thing from each subject they’ve learned that day (or that week) in their school. Often this starts with blank stares and shrugs, but soon someone thinks of something to share, then everyone else begins to join in. If you make this a regular event, the children will begin to save lessons they’re proud of or favorite projects to share with Dad. If he expresses interest in their school day, they’ll be eager to tell him about it.
Field Trips – Most husbands aren’t able to join in for homeschool group field trips during the week. If your husband isn’t able to take time off for homeschool group field trips, try to plan some weekend field trips for the family, and maybe invite a few friends. If you know your husband has certain weekdays off during the month, you can even attempt to put together a homeschool group field trip on one of his days off. Not only will he enjoy being with the family for the field trip, the kids will enjoy having Dad share it with them. It also means less stress for Mom to have Dad along to help. That’s an all-around win!
Experiments – Out of all my homeschool failures, this might be my worst. I like the idea of experiments, and I recognize their value, but it’s difficult to focus on a science experiment with toddlers and preschoolers hanging onto you. I might be making excuses for myself, but I still think it’s a great idea to let Dad handle the science experiments. This will require planning ahead, and setting your schedule for the week around your husband’s availability, but it can work. If lesson three has an experiment, you may need to divide the lesson in half, do the experiment the night before, or do it after studying the lesson.
Tutoring – Similar to passing science experiments on to your husband, you may find yourself needing to pass an entire subject to him. It’s not uncommon in our house for a math problem (usually geometry or chemistry) to be set aside for my husband’s help in the evening. He has a math degree, after all, and he can help them with problems that leave me totally confused. Most of our math textbooks for upper grades now have solution manuals, so I don’t have to do this as frequently, but my husband has tutored all three of our oldest children in chemistry.
Presentations – Many different curricula include a large project at the end of a unit. Plan a special evening for your children to show off their big projects to their Dad, as well as their grandparents, if they live nearby. Give your children an audience for all their hard work, and let Dad encourage them with his praise! Dad will also benefit from seeing the results of your homeschool efforts, and recognizing all that his children are learning.
How do you involve Dad in your homeschool experiences?