Our family is fairly traditional in that Dad works a 9-5 job, and Mom takes care of the kids and the housework, including the homeschool teaching. This works for us most of the time. Being a homeschool teacher is a job, as well, requiring many hours of focus and attention on a consistent basis. Homeschooling is also a lifestyle, so for us it’s important to find ways to include Dad in our learning, even if he is not able to be in our classroom during our morning school time. We have found ways to use Dad’s strengths to help keep the house running smooth and to share the teaching load.
We have a strong family habit of Dad reading aloud bedtime stories at the end of the day. He is awesome at including different voices and I think he secretly enjoys it more than the kids. Reading chapter books for 30 minutes for 365 days a years adds up to a lot of stories! So he shares the teaching load by reading our school readalouds at bedtime. He adds his own favorite stories in between as well. I can focus on the more academic books in the morning (and sometimes I’ll admit to even using audiobooks to cheat on that), and the kids can enjoy Dad’s gift of reading aloud in the evening.
Share the Household Chores
I struggle with executive function, and by the end of the work day my brain does not have energy to manage a 3-course meal for dinner. I prefer to cook in casseroles. But Dad is adventurous in the kitchen and has grown tired of the same one-dish dinners, so slowly over time he has taken over most of the dinner duty, including the weekly shopping. At first, this was hard to accept that he didn’t like the same 10 dinners every month but now we all have new favorites thanks to his adventurous cooking.
Use His Strengths
Learning doesn’t have to happen only during school hours. Have Dad plan time to share his interests with the kids. This year one of the kids signed up for Visual Programming as a 4-H project. Dad has a career in Computer Technology and made time each week in the evening to work through the activity book. He also helped him code his final project, a input-driven game in Scratch. You can play the game HERE.
When we went on a road trip to Ohio, Dad discovered the National Aerospace Museum was there and we added it to our stop. I hadn’t known that he was so interested in planes, but it was a joy to watch him share his excitement and knowledge with the boys as they all took in the variety of aircraft on display. When we returned home, he encouraged the boys to keep learning about war planes and this continues to be a a shared interest.
Invite Dad to Join Adventures
When we take an especially fun adventure, we ask Dad to join us. Being able to plan ahead for an activity can give Dad time to adjust his work schedule or take a vacation day. Some adventures are just better as a family, so visiting a museum a few hours away on a free homeschool day is a great excuse for a family road trip. We appreciate the flexibility of homeschooling that we can take trips when it fits our family schedule and take advantage of cheaper travel rates. For local outings, Dad has adjusted his lunch break to meet us at the theater to watch a student performance. Being able to include Dad in these experiences makes our family life richer.
Let Dad be Dad
Each parent brings a different teaching and parenting style to the family. Dads may not always do things the way us Moms wish they were done, but it gets done. It’s important that we let Dad be Dad and share his own interests with our kids. Allowing them to have their own shared memories and adventures is important. I have special memories of adventures with my Dad as a kid, he taught me to be the navigator on a trip to camp because it was just the two of us and Mom wasn’t there to help so I had to be promoted.
My family growing up never had any interest in military vehicles, but after our trip to Ohio, it’s a part of our family now. Every year Dad takes the boys camping with some other Dads and boys. It’s a weekend they look forward to all year. The stories they tell when they come home make me glad I wasn’t there to say no. But everyone comes home alive and smiling and that’s what is most important.
Dad may not be able to be there for every minute of learning, but there are still ways he can support you as a homeschool Mom by sharing the load at home. He can be a part of the learning with a little bit of planning. And most of all, as a family you can make memories together no matter what.