Try these ideas to help Dad feel more involved. (And if your husband is has reluctantly agreed to homeschool, these ideas can help him better understand what happens while he’s at work.)
Friday Folders: Children can show their work to their dads once a week, which might be preferable and less overwhelming than every evening. Have children choose a special folder and decorate it with Friday Folder written on it. During the week, every time the child has a particularly well-written or well-drawn paper, s/he can tuck the sample into the folder. The folder highlights their work, so Dad can look through it and get a good feel for the week. Be sure to think creatively, too. It’s not just a folder for worksheets — children can put: photographs, narration pages, book reports, drawings and even collected leaves or seashells in it. (Think portfolio.)
Photographs: If Dad is a visual learner, he might prefer to see what is being done rather than read about it. Consider a digital camera your homeschooling friend. You can take pictures of everything from the steps in a science experiment (or a culinary one); snap photos of field trips and park days; or just capture those highs and lows of the homeschooling journey. Make sure to capture the good, the bad and the ugly of your week. Be an objective photographer.
Blogs: (If you have one, you can skip this tip.) If you don’t, consider making one. If privacy is a concern (and it should be), consider making a special one for his eyes only. You can create blogs for a select audience and even have by-permission-only blogs. Consider your husband your audience, so keep the posts short and sweet. Write just the highlights and lowlights of the week. (If you want to write one for your extended family but are considered about privacy issues, you can choose nicknames for your children, use their middle names, and avoid using specific details, such as your city or full name. You can also do permission-only blogs.)
Bulletin Boards: If you’ve got the room, a nice long bit of corkboard can be a good display for what your homeschoolers are learning. The children can take turns decorating it. You can get materials from online searches or free educational resources websites.
Field Trips: Going to the aquarium to complete a unit study on sea creatures? Heading out to the newspaper office to see how a newspaper is put together? Ask Dad to come along with you. Perhaps he’s been waiting to be invited or has not considered being part of the schooling experience. If he can’t take the day off (and in today’s economy, not many can), then consider doing your school outing during the weekend. Yes, there will be more people at the location, but the benefits of having Dad there will outweigh the crowd issues.
Family Park Day: Most homeschooling support groups have at least one family park day a year. Make an extra effort to attend it. Dad might feel a little awkward, but so will all the other dads there. It can be a bonding experience.
Sneak Attacks: To borrow the idea of strewing (leaving materials out for curious hands to pick up and read), you might consider leaving out articles about homeschooling or bookmarking pages in a book then placing them where your husband might pick them up and read it. For example, you can leave out an article about homeschooling on the kitchen table, so Dad can read it while he has his morning coffee. You can even put books in the bathroom for Dad to read. (Shhh, I won’t tell.)
Underappreciated in the movies and on television, fathers don’t have to be neglected in their homeschooling families. Many homeschooling families would not be able to choose this educational method if not for the financial support of the fathers. Be sure to let your husband know what a blessing he is…and is giving…the family through his support of homeschooling.
Veronica Maria has a degree in journalism and worked with words for years before she became a full-time mom. She writes about homeschooling at her blog, Pixilated School Notes, and freelances as a writer and an editor. Her most-beloved works-in-progress, though, are her three children.
photo by Kaptain Kobold
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