With the current economic downturn which indicated that 80% of jobs lost were held by men, it is not surprising that at least some homeschooling families are embracing the lifestyle of dad as the primary educator. One census showed the number of full time, stay-at-home male educators was more than 140,000 in 1998. There are certainly many more homeschooling dads now. As this article is being written by a woman, I cannot profess to have the male perspective on this subject, but I do think that its important to look at ways that fathers, even if not full time educators, can actively engage in the homeschooling lifestyle of the family. Here are some suggestions:
- Sharing an educational philosophy/approach with spouse It is so important for parents to be emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually committed to a homeschooling lifestyle. If one parent is indifferent, or worse, unsupportive of a certain method of homeschooling, it creates difficulties for the whole family. Even a father that is gone from home all week needs to be in fundamental agreement with the homeschooling methods and philosophy used to homeschool his children. Both parents are teachers either directly or indirectly and it is important that the children experience a feeling of parental agreement even if the mother does all of the formal teaching. The father can read articles or even books that may be relevant to the methodology or philosophy of his homeschooling family.
- Monthly reviews/presentations Another way that a father can feel more a part of homeschooling is to be part of a periodic review or presentation of the material that has been recently covered in homeschooling. This could actually be a festive occasion with a chance for some singing, poetry reciting, and of course academic work presented to dad and reviewed by dad. Not only does dad get a chance to hear and review the work, the children also have a chance to review and prepare for the presentation.
- Sharing ideas informally at meals and on weekend field trips and projects Most fathers are still able to share a daily evening meal with his children and have time with them on the weekends. This can be a great time for discussion of ideas, to ask questions, and to plan weekend field trips that the whole family can enjoy. Dad's input should be sought out in areas. It can lead to interesting weekend projects together with the children. It's important that families create these sharing times and embrace the opportunity to learn together.
- Family read aloud An often cherished tradition is a family read aloud in which dad can choose a great book and read aloud each night before bed. Some dads really get into this, taking on different voices for different characters. Of course this can also be a time for spiritual renewal and reading aloud from whatever sacred texts or special books are important to your family.
- Homeschool teaching For fathers that are able to do so, it is a wonderful experience for children to learn academic subjects directly from the male role model. There are going to be some areas where dad's expertise and knowledge can be directly shared in an organized teaching format. This may have to involve some juggling of what may be your "normal" school times but you'll find it well worth the opportunity to work with dad. Another option is having dad teach a portion of a subject that is relevant to his expertise or interest. Areas of science are excellent for this type of teaching since experiments or focus areas can be carved out of a larger subject for dad to teach. Some teaching opportunities may come up at specific times of the year. For example, if you prepare your own taxes, tax time might be a good time for dad to teach a lesson on the taxation system.
Everyone in our time-sensitive society should practice slowing down to enjoy the fruits of our labor, even while we are laboring! Fathers can feel more in sync with the family if they take the time for sharing and reviewing and by participating in informal discussions with the family that form the heart of learning and living together as a homeschooling family. To read articles written by and specifically devoted to homeschooling fathers, visit www.homeschooldads.com.
Jennifer K. Gray is the Director of Operations for LessonPathways.com. Lesson Pathways is an innovative online curriculum created entirely from INTERNET RESOURCES, making it easy for educators to use educational resources and links, with limited pre-planning time!
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