If we are not getting dad involved in homeschooling we are missing out on great opportunities to teach our children. If your family is like most homeschool families, one parent is primarily responsible for the day-to-day homeschooling duties and the other is the primary wage-earner. In most cases the mother is in charge of the day-to-day education tasks, so we write from that perspective. Regardless, finding ways to involve both parents in the education of your children is a great way to get the most of your homeschooling experience.
1. Make Sure to Schedule for "Dad Time"
Identify times when dad is home and try to free that time up, as much as possible for dad-directed learning time. Make sure to give dad time to get settled at home before "sicking" the children on him. It may also be good to make sure he is fed and has had some positive interactions with mom first. Mom can also help make "dad time" successful by preparing anything that dad may need in working with the kids and that there is a clean space for them to learn. Moms should be careful to make this a special time and not use dad as a threat or negative motivator throughout the day. Dad could arrange to talk with the kids on special interest topics, things he's doing at work, or hobbies. Make it a time for dad to do what he thinks is important for the kids.
2. Let Dad-Directed Learning Be Directed By Dad
We probably all agree that dads tend to do things differently than moms. Accept this and make it a part of your plans. When letting dad take the lead, make sure to let him take the lead. Moms and dads nurture in different ways--it can be tempting to want to step in and help, but it will be good for everyone to let "dad time" evolve naturally. This will not only give mom a break, but dad may be able to do something mom wasn't able to. He may connect with a child that was struggling with mom that particular day. Dad may offer a different perspective or way of thinking about things and will help children to consider other options or possibilities. Dad might be a little tougher than mom and encourage the kids to do more or better than mom would be inclined to expect, (probably out of exhaustion). If dad can compensate for mom's weaknesses, and the other way around, they can be a great team.
3. Get Dad Involved in Your Family's Educational Philosophy
Dad's way of thinking about education is probably different from mom's. If we don't incorporate dad's philosophy we are missing a great chance to augment our children's education. Include dad's interests and knowledge in the curriculum as well as things he thinks are important for kids to learn. The more that everyone is "onboard" and united in the educational process the more success you will have. Dad will be more interested and excited about homeschooling if his ideas and suggestions are valued. Get Dad involved in choosing curriculum and in helping mom and the kids set educational goals. Find the educational value in dad's interests and incorporate them in the day-to-day. If dad likes soccer, include some math questions about lengths of soccer fields; if dad is a computer programmer, include some discussion of computers or calculation in your history lessons; if dad loves the outdoors, include nature study in your science lesson. Integrating dad's interests into your curriculum with help the dad and the children see your commitment to getting dad involved in the learning process.
Remember that while it may not always seem like it, it is a privilege to be with your children and to spend so much time with them--a privilege not enjoyed by your partner. It is important to work together to ensure that children are getting the benefit of learning from both parents.