For most homeschooling families I know, it's the mama who's in the day-to-day trenches, juggling homeschooling with housework and diaper changes and attitude adjustments--sometimes the kids' and sometimes her own. At any rate, one may wonder where Dad fits in when he's usually gone to work all day. Well, here are the ways my husband (affectionately called "Husband") is involved in our homeschool.
1. Husband is Head of the Home
First and foremost, as a Christian family, we follow God's design for marriage and family. Simply put, Husband is the leader. While he may delegate much of our home life duties to me, I operate knowing that he is the head, even in our homeschool. So, tough decisions need to flow through him. Huge changes in our curriculum? He should know about it. If one of the children is struggling with a concept, I seek his guidance on it. If I'm dealing with the same character issue, day in and day out, I ask for his help. At the end of the day, God gave these children to us, and Husband's opinion is not only highly valuable, it is vey much needed.
2. Mix Work with School
Lately, my husband's job has afforded him the opportunity to work more from home. On those days, he'll set his computer up at the table right in the midst of note books and flash cards and he works side by side with us. Although he is busily taking care of his work duties, just having his presence in the home during the school day is always a blessing. Plus sometimes, he'll surprise us with donuts before he starts his work day (yummy breakfast!) or he'll get pizza on his lunch break. . .can't beat that!
3. Talk About Homeschooling Regularly
Besides asking the kids what they did in school or how their day was, Husband and I regularly discuss the kids' progress in their schoolwork. After using public schools for 3 years, we are entering our 5th year of homeschooling. We have gotten used to "how we do school" and are realizing the truth in the adage "homeschooling is a way of life." That being the case, we discuss our children as whole individuals (spiritually, mentally, educationally, etc) throughout the course of normal conversation. So school is not some separate topic that my Husband is not aware of.
4. Let Him Influence Your Schedule
In my head, I'd like to think I run a well-oiled machine in my schooling schedule. (A mama can try, right?) Of course, we certainly have our share of toddler meltdowns, babies up at night, and older kids who are slow-moving in the mornings. But, generally, we have a natural ebb and flow to our days. Husband knows that and he is really good about supporting the daily goals I've put in place.
However, when my husband is able to take some time off of work, we adjust our schedule to coincide with the precious time we have to spend together as a family. Even if we don't take an actual vacation, but just take a day trip to a town a few cities away, it is worth the day of missed school work. There are also times when Husband just senses that we need a break, even if he's at work. He'll call and say, "Babe, no school today." I've learned that if he can see that we need a break, then we must really need one. So, I take it without stressing and without any guilt. And you know what? It's always been beneficial in the long run because burn-out never looks good on a me.
5. Daddy Teacher
Just because Mom is the primary teacher doesn't mean a few subjects can't be saved for Dad. In our home, my husband teaches 100% of our children's Physical Education. It is so freeing to not have to think about Math and how to teach catching and jumping-jacks, too! He has a list of various sports drills the kids practice each day, and then on the weekends, he takes them to a field behind our house for class. They have a stretching and warm-up routine, and they learn all sorts of sports fundamentals: track, soccer, and baseball, plus basketball and football for the boys. This is right up my husband's alley, as he played football in college and has a minor in coaching. So, brainstorm with your husband on what he feels comfortable teaching, something that he would enjoy. My kids get a kick out of Daddy being their coach!
6. Include His Ideas
I try to incorporate my husband ideas. Sometimes he has ideas that just work for the kids or that I may not think of. After all, he is their father and knows them just as well as I do. In our very first year of homeschooling, I was teaching the kids Ancient History and we were talking about how farmers would use a "shaduf" to water their crops. He sat in on the lesson and got up and made a make-shift shaduf using some pencils and an eraser. Once I was finished talking about it, he showed the kids how his shaduf worked. They loved it! Five years later, we all still remember him doing that.
Lately, my husband has added a twist to our math and our catechism. In Math, once a week, the kids are required to choose a problem and explain how they solved it in written form (literally writing out the words). The problem must be one they previously got wrong and have since corrected. They get to choose which one they will write about. Also, we are learning catechism as a family so the children have a firm foundation in our doctrinal beliefs. However, Husband said in addition to memorizing the answers, the children must also be able to put those answers in their own words, according to their understanding/ability. As you can see, Husband is not one for rote memorization alone. He wants the kids to be able to explain concepts for themselves. This has been great in stretching the children's thinking and encourages them to pay closer attention to instruction and discussions.
These are just some of the ways my husband is directly involved in our homeschooling. I'm sure there are others and I'd love to hear them! How do you include your husband in your homeschool?