The number of home school moms who are actively involved in the daily academic routine of their kids is disproportionately higher than the number of homeschool dads who are involved in the same activities on a daily basis. Shocking revelation? Not really. If you’ve ever been to a homeschooling convention or participated in a home school cooperative, you’ve probably noticed that the parent more frequently in attendance is a mom. Although our culture’s position on this is changing, for our generation, men were raised to assume the roles of provider for and protector of the family, and this is good. However, unless the dad works at home, he is physically absent for most of the day making a living for his family while the homeschool mom stays home to take care of the kids.
I couldn’t find any hard statistics to support my premise, but we all know that in the United States, the modern homeschooling movement has been primarily carried by the women. Now don’t get excited…that’s not to say that our supportive husbands have not been bolstering us, encouraging us, and equipping us behind the scenes. In fact, I would suggest that within the Christian homeschooling community, most men believe that as head of the household, the education of their children is ultimately and finally their responsibility. I read a homeschooling Dad’s comment once that he was “just as responsible, just not as available.” As such, it takes a creative Dad to overcome the demands of a busy career to impart knowledge and wisdom to his children on a regular basis.
Classical scholars reject the traditional educational paradigm which states that learning begins and ends with the “school” day. Learning can happen at any time of the day or night, weekends included, in any circumstances (It’s really important to drive home this point when the kids are young or they might resent instruction on the weekends when they get older.) This is where Dad needs to be creative with instruction and take every chance he gets. (I know you’re tired, Dad, after a long day of work, but if you are alert to teaching opportunities, your brief interludes can yield multiple results!)
My husband, David, manages to creatively squeeze instruction into normal conversations with the kids by seeing every topic as a springboard for further review and learning. For instance, last week, I took notes during our morning Bible time reading the book of 1 Kings at the kitchen table just to show you how he covered more meaningful content in 45 minutes than I sometimes do in a day!
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Here’s the scoop. Although King David wanted to build Yahweh a house, the Lord told David no; his son, Solomon, would build the Temple in Jerusalem. The passage in 1 Kings goes into a lot of detail about the construction, and when we came across the measurement “cubit,” we checked the footnote to see how that converted to inches. Well, it turns out that a cubit is 18 inches in length, so David told our 13 year old to go to the whiteboard and perfom some “real-live” math. Connor groaned, but he knew what was coming because he’s used to our mantra that “all of life is learning.” He began calculating, and soon shared with us the dimensions of the Temple in length, width, and height. Well, that wasn’t too bad…after all these were linear dimensions and straight multiplication. Connor sat back down. But then, we read the next section which described the circumference of the pillars. Uh oh. Connor knew what was coming. David launched into a mathematical discussion of pi and the Greek philosophy behind their fascination with this unique number, and soon Connor was recalling the formula for circumference and calculating the pillar measurement.
During the course of our reading that morning, David used Socratic Dialogue (ask leading questions…don’t tell them the answer) to explore the following additional areas of learning that came straight out of the text:
- Literary analysis – David likes to closely read the text, so we talked about construction of the passage and how the writer made a general statement then went on to particularize that statement with details
- Religion – The writer mentions 2 pagans: Solomon’s Egyptian wife and King Hiram of Tyre who provided the cypress wood for construction of the Temple, so we briefly talked about the possible pagan influence especially the cows used in the Temple “bath” (the basin filled with water for offerings.) This bath was sitting on 12 oxen sculptures. Cows were worshipped in Egypt and Tyre as fertility gods. Remember the golden calf of the Exodus?
- History – Bronze is used in the Temple utensils, so we had a quick history on dating the text through the observance of weapons and tools (Bronze Age versus Iron Age)
Now none of that teaching was preplanned. My husband does it ALL the time. (The kids are always on the spot when Dad is home.) He just pays attention to what’s going on at the moment and uses what he already knows to lead a discussion. Sometimes he explains, but more often, he asks questions then explains. Dad can use all of life to teach and participate in the home school…whether he is playing racquetball with the kids, changing a tire, cutting firewood, or reading Scripture. All it takes is a Dad who is a lifelong learner and alert to the possibilities for learning.
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Dad’s involvement is only one of the 7 essential elements of a classical Christian homeschool. Learn more by clicking on the link.