For most families it is the mum who does most of the homeschooling – Dad is off to work every day outside of the home. But Dad’s do need to be involved – they need to be part of the discipleship process. It isn’t that Dad does the spiritual stuff and mum does the knowledge stuff – mum and dad both need to be involved in educating, teaching, training the whole child. So how to get Dad involved?
There are three ways we can help Dad be involved:
- Get him to do the things he is good at! The things he is passionate about. The things he knows so very well. Peter is a Vet, a pilot, he is interested and knowledgeable about God’s creation, he loves God and has studied the Bible – these are the things he is good at.
- Remove the pressure to teach, instead encourage them to share their life, their passions, their knowledge in a conversation (no lesson plans needed!!)
- Be flexible with his schedule. Since learning can happen any time then it is a good thing to find yourself talking about science over breakfast – if this is how it happens with ‘Dad” then that is a good thing. Don’t restrict him to your learning schedule.
I remember in our second year of homeschooling we were doing a Five in a Row unit based on The Glorious Flight and it seemed like an obvious choice to have Peter teach about flight. He has been flying since he was a kid, he flies almost every day. Like I said, seems like something he could do. But it put so much pressure on him – he did not want to do it. I must admit I was frustrated with him – I wasn’t asking him to do anything hard!! As we talked about it we realised we were each seeing things differently. I was envisaging him simply talking about the principles of flight, showing the kids the plane and the bits that make it fly and maybe even taking them for a joy ride. He on the other hand saw me preparing lessons and thought that I wanted him to prepare a lesson, use various resources and be very scientific – be like a school lesson. This is how I came up with the above three points. He didn’t need to prepare a lesson he knew his stuff! He just needed to be available to the kids to share this with them. They ended up having a great time learning about flight and they remember it to this day.
There have been many memorable lessons he has been able to give the kids simply because he knows things and he makes himself available to share those things with the kids when he can.
- Telling directions from the stars, how an eclipse happens, how seasons and phases of the moon happen
- Issues of Creation vs Evolution
- Issues of conflicting worldviews in various spheres of life
- Biology – we’ve seen the inside workings of a chook, rat and a guinea pig, a heart, brain, bones, ovaries, teeth all because he has been able to either do an autopsy here at home or has bought parts home.
- Geography – we have a globe sitting in the dining room so he can talk about the world whenever the topic comes up
- Bible – whenever he is home he is able to share his love for God and His Word
There is one other area though that Dads teach that they may not even be aware of – and that is in the issues of character: how they respond to people and circumstances will be observed, and copied by their children. This will happen regardless of our intentionality but as Mums we can use Dad as an example whether Dad is around or not. Don’t use the issues of character that Dad is working on – that would be uncovering your husband – but there are plenty of good character issues he lives by – elevate those, teach into those, let them know that Dad is a role model and they can watch and copy his choices.
We need to get away from the idea that we are a teacher, teaching certain topics at certain times. We are instead Mum and Dad setting out to teach and train our children so that they are well prepared for whatever lies ahead of them. One of the best things for us both (Mum and Dad) to pass onto our kids are the things that we ourselves are passionate about, things we believe in, things we are skilled at. These things should make up a large proportion of our education plan.
Here are some photos of the latest lesson Pete taught our kids – biology – the heart. He had managed to get a bull’s heart from out in the field one day so we had the opportunity to see how the heart works.