How do you get fathers involved with home education?
by Beverley Paine, July 2017
I start by celebrating how simply being the other present parent in a child's life (hmm, why am I avoiding that word 'dad' - because the nature of families are changing, as is the nature of work - it's getting way more complicated than that old mum homeschools dads works model, but the issue remains the same, that of the other parent feeling either left out or not knowing how to be more hands on).
Celebrating by acknowledging what learning is already and naturally happening by having this other person doing whatever it is this other person does starts to rewire the way we look at what we mean and want from 'education'.
For working parents, the money earned is a huge benefit and is used by everyone to pursue their interests, hobbies, passions, provide materials and resources and opportunities. And it helps to provide the environment in which learning takes place. This is worth celebrating and is a very real and important way working parents contribute to home educating the children. Some of us trade income for time, living a frugal low income life forgoing a set of experiences that money makes more accessible, using that time to seek out low cost alternatives, although we have to be careful not to let the stress of not being able to cover everyday costs each week derail the joy of learning.
Most people have a hobby and simply being around them means children are exposed to a range of skills and knowledge: throughout life people learn a vast amount, especially practical stuff, by copying and mimicking and it's a quiet, mostly unsung effective learning mechanism. Educator and psychologist Alan Thomas used the term 'informal learning' and identified it as a strong factor in home educating success. Kids 'pick up' how to do stuff from their parents even if they aren't doing or practicing those things themselves - sure they won't get excellent at them without having a go, but they still get some idea and will definitely pick up on the values and attitudes present, what works and doesn't work in situations, etc.
Add to that all the things that a person consciously does to help with family and everyday life: playing ball, helping fix things, maintaining stuff in working order, running errands, cooking dinners, the washing, shopping, organising excursions and holidays, whatever... This is all demonstrations of the 'curriculum' in action.
Having identified and celebrated how simply being present in a child's life and sharing that with the person identified as not being as involved in the home educating, we can then move on to identifying some of the things he or she can do to fill any perceived gaps. For me, once I'd reached this stage I had realised that my kids dad, although not doing what I had so desperately wanted for about a decade (help with planning and the overview of our children's education, mostly because I felt insecure and needed reassurance homeschooling was 'okay') he was actually already very hands on, teaching our children a whole heap of things I hadn't previously valued as education (in other words, the whole exercise was part of my deschooling process).
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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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