I’ve mentioned before that I am not going it alone here. Not only is my husband a very active participant, I like for my son to play a part in choosing his education.
But let’s start with Daddy. I read an article recently that was titled something to the effect of: Homeschool Dads – More Than Just a Principal. At times it can seem that way because I am so frequently consulting with him on matters of curriculum choices and costs (though he has taken a “no expense spared” approach to the children’s education, so sometimes he can be less than helpful on that front). His most active role is as a teacher. Currently he is not teaching in our classroom setting (that could be changing), but that doesn’t make him any less of a teacher. Part of the reason we homeschool is so that our children have a firm grasp of how to live life when they’re in the world on their own. This means Daddy spends a lot of time teaching the basics. He teaches how to bathe, and brush teeth, and eat the right foods, among many other things. We also consider the time when we sit down for dinner, and Daddy tells us about his day, a learning moment. And a very fun one at that. Another very important job of Daddy’s is as reinforcer. He spends a lot of time asking questions about Bugsy’s day. When he comes home from work, especially at dinner, Bug recounts his day. Daddy pushes for lots of details. He gently corrects mistakes and consults with me to make sure there is no confusion (because with a four year old, sometimes things get lost in translation). On a constant basis Daddy reiterates everything Bug is telling him, and everything I have told Daddy that we’re working on. For example, this week we’ve been working on learning to tell time, so Daddy regularly asks Bug what time it is. This holds well with my philosophy (borrowed from someone else) that “in repetition there is learning.”
As far as Bug’s participation, being his teacher is a delicate balance. In some areas I take a strong leadership role. For the most part I am in charge of the timeline and getting us started each day. There are times when I guide his focus to keep him on track. There are also times when I do have to push him to do some of his less enjoyable tasks. But at this stage I prefer to give him choices. I find that letting him choose which activity we do keeps him more engaged. I also try to make sure that every learning activity is something enjoyable for him. I’m not naive enough to think that he will always love every aspect of school, even now he doesn’t love learning to write, but while he is young, especially, I want as much as possible to be fun in order to develop an early love of learning. And going forward I can always to my best to attempt to make things fun. This is part of the reason I have ordered such a hands-on kindergarten curriculum, holding with my other philosophy that children learn best through play.
Along with this we also all enjoy learning new things together. I make a point of showing Bug my enthusiasm when he asks a question and I don’t know the answer. It’s always fun to find the right resources and find the right answer together. And because we have a great deal of Usborne (I have a fabulous consultant, feel free to shop) books, we usually have a fun book to give us the information we’re looking for.
Moving forward, I would like to add that outside influences have been frustrating for us personally. For starters, Bug has a very particular learning style. He is a very meticulous person, and so far operates best under strict consistency. There are many times when others have attempted to teach him something and it almost entirely conflicts with the way we have been teaching. This causes Bug so much confusion that we almost have to start over. We also have issues with people underestimating his abilities, or rushing to give him answers. We’re working to get everyone on the same page, and make very opportunity one to learn something, because we believe everyone in his life has something wonderful and educational to offer him. This is a difficult task because we have a large family, and don’t exactly have everything worked out ourselves yet (we’re all new to this). But it can be done, and will be great for the kids. It’s all very exciting really.
So don’t be afraid to get your whole family involved in all of the learning. And don’t feel like you’ll be completely alone in the world of homeschool if it’s something you’re considering. In so many ways it can bring everyone closer together.
On a lighter note, I learned today that it is apparently homeschool teacher appreciation week. So my sweet husband has delivered a glass of wine and piece of chocolate to my end table as a gift. See? Not alone here.