What it really means to me to be a homeschooling dad.
by Robin Paine
Homeschooling to me used to mean that whenever I got home from work the kids were always there. If I had a day off they were there. I really didn’t have a lot to do with their education, but since leaving full time work due to injury I get more of a feel of what it really means to be a homeschooling dad.
Initially I thought I had to sit down with the kids doing endless, boring book work, but I am beginning to realise this isn’t what education really means. Education is really just living and doing. The best way to learn something is by doing it. If you need help find someone who can already do it, who can help and is sympathetic to your needs.
My kids come to me all the time asking for help with this project or that, or simply asking questions about all manner of things. I do my best to help them. I do recognise that I am not always sympathetic or tolerant, especially when I am busy with my own work. I think it is important to involve the children with the things that I am doing as well as taking an interest in what they are doing.
I have recently employed Roger to help me with various paid handyman jobs in the local area. I believe paying him an hourly wage helps him to value the work he does.
Thomas and I are slowly building a petrol-driven go-cart, and I have helped him build his cubby house. At the moment we are all busy building a workshop and games room, and the children are learning to competently use power tools and carpentry skills. All the kids help with landscaping and gardening jobs, and take an interest in my hobby, which is alternative power systems.
Their level of general knowledge surprises most people we meet. I attribute this to their wider learning experiences and their ability to involve themselves in discussion with people all ages.
I like homeschooling because it is flexible and allows me to be with my kids more, not just first thing in the morning and last thing at night. This has allowed us to be more than just parent and children, but real friends.
A later interview with Robin, 2007
Are you happy with how your children turned out?
Yes, definitely. I enjoy the closeness and familiarity that I have with my kids, now aged 20, 24 and 26. I feel our relationship is one of friendship, rather than parent to child and vice versa. I find that I can learn as much, probably more, from them as they can from me.
Is there anything you would change about how you home educated your children?
I feel like I could have involved them more in my day-to-day life and hence spent more time with them when they were growing instead of rushing around doing everything myself. In spite of this I am amazed at the range of skills they picked up, especially their ‘give it a go’ attitude – everything is worth a try. This is something I didn’t consciously teach them.
How involved were you in the day-to-day actual homeschooling of your children?
Very little; Beverley was the organiser and main instigator of homeschooling activities. She planned everything and I was happy to help out when asked, especially doing science experiments and projects such as building models, electronics, etc. We did a lot of leisure activities together as a family and the children helped out occasionally with our building and gardening projects.
What advice would you give to homeschooling dads just starting out on this adventure?
Keep an open mind. Understand that everything your child does is educational. Don’t lecture; work from where the child is at, build on what he understands and use language and concepts he can grasp easily at whatever stage he is at. Don’t assume you can’t learn from your children. Really listen to them and be genuinely interested in what they are doing. Try not to take over but be a helper. You can’t teach anyone anything but you can help them learn.
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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