Homeschooling can seem like a daunting journey, especially for those who are new to the concept. We are unsure of where to start, overwhelmed by the notion of taking on our children’s education, and feel as if we are not enough. May we offer encouragement for families unsure of the adventure called homeschooling.
Joining us today is Rod Lampard, a fellow homeschooler and blogger. As a stay at home father, he is with us today to share his perspective on being the primary teacher to his homeschooled children. We pray this encourages all fathers wishing to take an active role in their children’s education.
Placed together, the words mum and home are more familiar terms than dad and home. Homeschooling mums are often on the frontline. Fathers appear more on the peripheral. As a result, fathers who find themselves homeschooling, or fathers who want to help homeschool, may be left with a sense of uncertainty about their role.
Gender role stereotypes reinforced by patriarchy aside, post-modern portrayals of fatherhood, from Al Bundy to Homer Simpson, have created an image of dads as indifferent. They’re depicted as irresponsible, discontent with life and constantly inconvenienced by their families.
These are only caricatures, but they push a narrative of defeat, despair and disempowerment.
Attitudes towards dads that are built on these caricatures can take away from the empowerment a father can add to the homeschooling journey.
Even without the discouragement of popular attitudes towards fatherhood, working out what dad’s role is in the overall task of homeschooling can be difficult.
One good place to start is prayer. Ask for understanding and discernment. Work out what role might best fit the season your family is in. Homeschooling allows a great deal of flexibility in the daily grind. There is plenty of room for a dad to bring his talents to the table and teach his kids. Not only does he have an opportunity to encourage, he has the opportunity to hand down an inheritance that will surpass both dollar and time.
Here are seven ways a homeschooling dad can develop his role in the homeschool journey:
Lead like Jesus:
Take an interest in who is learning what. Pray with your homeschoolers. Take the initiative; be teachable and learn along with your children. Homeschooling is as much about goals and grind, as it is about building relationships and expanding knowledge. Make your kids laugh. If the day is being obviously rough on mum, help her take a break and retake the high ground.
Bring the rain:
If time is limited due to work, take up a creative, research and development role. Think outside the box, plant then water ideas. Weekend activities might be a better option. For example: Create loopy lunches, write crazy poetry, make some shaving cream art, or gummy bear toothpick construction. All of these would tick boxes in parts of the curriculum.
Teach from what you know:
Reach to expand the gifts, natural talents and interests of your kids. Utilize your own interests and create shared ones. Speak from your field of expertise and work out some way of passing that knowledge on. For example: a passion for history, technology, politics, theology, science, or computer games such as Kerbal Space Program, Age of Empires, Sim City or Stranded Deep.
Teach by example:
Parents teach by word, deed and attitude. Whilst marriage building is not recommended as being the sole reason dads participate in the homeschool process, it is a potential benefit. Working alongside each other and by sharing the duty of care, husband and wife can teach by example.
Aim to bless, not impress:
Do what you can with what you’ve got. Dads can empower homeschooling by helping to keep things grounded. When lag or a fog settles in over the day, a loving, but firm course correction is sometimes needed. Offer a different perspective or kickstart momentum by creatively engaging in solutions.
Bring the day to life. Find something to wonder at and invite your kids to wonder with you. What can be the better part of our homeschool day for us, is when I break out my “dad” music, a current newspaper or theology text that I’ve been reading. Be spontaneous. Seize the moment. Look for opportunities for lessons. Watch a documentary together and discuss it afterwards. Ignite a discussion about sport, art, music or movies. Include what you liked as a teenager. Discuss athletic talent, the ins and outs of a game, musical instruments, lyrics, acting, story lines or technique.
Review, review, review:
Sit down from time to time and strategize. Look back over where the kids are at. Seek to be on the same page as one another. Openly discuss concerns. Be realistic. Identify strengths and weaknesses, including a cost to benefit rethink of homeschool resources, objectives, and furniture or room layout.
Homeschooling is about life. It’s about empowering holistic education. Homeschooling requires teamwork. It recognizes that every parent is at once a teacher and a student. Dads in their own uniqueness bring an edge to the homeschooling task that cannot be replicated; may we have the strength to stand, taking up both role and task, with honour, perseverance, mercy, joy and gratitude.
‘Let frugality and industry be our virtues, if they are not of any others. And above all cares of this life, let our ardent anxiety be to mould the minds and manners of our children. Let us teach them not only to do virtuously, but to excel.’
– (John Adams, 29th June, 1774 The Letters of John and Abigail Adams)
Rod Lampard, July 25th 2015
You can follow Rod Lampard at Gratia Veritas Lumen, where he writes about Christian theology, art, politics, society, and a little home schooling. If you’d like to stay connected, don’t forget to follow on Twitter and Instagram.