While dads may seem like they are in the sidelines of their children’s education, their involvement in homeschooling is crucial.
Often the role of the parent in a homeschool child’s life is that of teacher and we overlook that kids need a different kind of connection. Research shows that kids grow up more grounded, emotionally intelligent, and show higher executive functioning when they play with their parents and unstructured play.
“Beliefs are very active. They imply an agenda. This is right and this is wrong. The gravity or active quality of our assumptions often blind us to what is actually going on, this present moment. We often miss or misunderstand what the child is experiencing, expressing, and needing. We see only our agenda, and whether or not our darlings are meeting our expectations, conforming to our image of what they should or should not be.” – Joseph Chilton Pearce
Dads can have a big impact in their kids’ homeschool life by:
- Establishing a connection trough Play
- Getting involved in special projects
- Owning the weekends
The immense importance of playing with your kids
“There is no authority, no fixed rules. The child and the adult are moving targets, growing, learning, changing everyday. To respond appropriately in such a dynamic and changing relationship, both must be sensitive observers. What was appropriate yesterday, or even a few moments ago, may be completely inappropriate now, this living moment. To give such complete attention requires discipline, deep respect, care and affection.” – From Magical Parent Magical Child.
We have been told that playing is learning. When we visit a preschool for our little ones we are told about “play based learning” and “the child plays these games and doesn’t realize he’s learning”. So often we take upon ourselves to use PLAY as an “education” for our kids.
We often show our kids what we believe to be the “right” way or best way to do something, often, though we mean well, we are squashing what our kids want to show us and share with us. Usually when kids want to show us something, it is because they are proud of themselves and as such, they think we will be proud of them too.
Tips for playing with your kids
Acknowledge ingenuity and originality
Try not to lead the games, let him take the lead. Do your best to not enhance or better a game your child comes up with until you’ve listened and played a few times his way. Then offer alternatives. The point is to strengthen the relationship and to make clear that you can listen to him without judgement.
If you are a father or mother who wants his son or daughter to be able to talk to him about big things in the future, you have to start here, in the play zone, with the little things.
Cooking is playing
Small children love to chop, mix, and just generally be involved in the cooking process. As they grow, 6 or 7 year olds will love to make whipped cream, raw chocolate truffles, chocolate sauce, waffles, salads, etc.
If actual cooking is not an option, pretend cooking and restaurant role-play never fails. The possibilities in the realm of pretend play are endless…In my experience every time we went to Costco and came back with a nice sturdy box, that day we would be playing restaurant, or car. Fancy cakes can be created out of play dough and displayed and bought at a pretend bakery.
Playing dolls is easier than you think
Whether your kid is into LOL Dolls, Barbies, or whichever doll is In at the time, at the very least they need a house. If you or someone decided one day that it would be nice to give your daughter a fancy doll house, you scratched a great creative project from their childhood experience: that of building their dolls a house. A great material to use is foam board and very thin nails which can be pushed in with their finger, as well as masking or painter’s tape. If they are good with hot glue, they can use that for part of the structure too. The foam board house can have as many levels, and rooms as they like. They can decide if there will be a garage, patio, stairs, as well as the entire design. This is a great project for parents to get involved with because it is actually really fun. Of course, there may be many different reiterations and different designs. As kids get more handy they may decide to make a better house.
Another thing dolls need in their house is play dough food, which dries overnight. They need furniture, beds, a restaurant. Sky is the limit.
This activity is not exclusive to girls.
Kids LOVE treasure hunts. This should be a post in itself because there are certain treasure hunts that are incredibly successful with kids and the age spans from 4 yr olds and up. Suffice to say that you can start with hiding gems, trinkets, stickers, etc. for the little ones to go at it. Or writing clues that will take the kids to the next hidden clue or bounty. Treasure hunts are fun with just one kid or a few kids involved. We used Treasure Hunts as an incentive for our daughter to learn to read by writing very simple clues and leading her to treats and small gifts. Our daughter loved the treasure hunt and asked to do two and three treasure hunts per day, which resulted in quite a lot of reading. Full disclosure: she went off the treasure hunts when she realized the treasure came at a price.
These are of course best outside. You can find some really neat rocks and even little fossils at a rock store. Sometimes they may have a bin with various types and colored stones and you can fill up a little bag for just a few dollars. What I like to do is chose the rocks that do not have any artificial dies on them so they look more genuine finds. I also get some little fossils, and little geodes. This is a great activity for a birthday party or a homeschool group event. You can buddy the treasure at the park or around the backyard. You could embed clues in trees and encourage the kids to come up with a map based on clues, or patterns.
Really anything goes. Anything that builds a trusted and continuing connection. Sometimes toys are not available or needed. There is all kinds of games to play with just your hands, like making a puppet theater with shadows, playing hand slam, playing clapping games, and for us, we love Mr. Finger who walks around, talks and has a personality. Shortly after we added Mrs. Finger.
Slumber Party Night
This is where you all put on PJs, watch a movie together and the kids come up with the treats and snack supply for the evening. They can get very carried away with this opportunity to get mom or dad to eat treats and specially-crafted snacks. We make organic homemade pop-corn with coconut oil and butter which is delicious and wholesome to counter the sugary snacks… Make sure you get up and dance to some of the songs, or at the very least dance to the song during the credits.
These are just some ideas. Please see Favorite Craft and Art projects Kids 4 – 6 Love to get a lot more ideas about activities with kids. As well as 8 Meaningful activities for dads, mom, and grandparents to do with Kids.
Since we have an only child, mom and dad were her first playmates. Then she got big enough to have friends to play with and she constantly asked to have play dates with her friends, but what has never changed is that if she can play with mom or dad, she is just as happy as if she had a playmate.
Get Involved in Special Projects
Encourage your kids to step outside their boundaries and get involved in ventures or projects such as making something and selling it, getting into a team sport, or doing a meaningful activity together. These projects are intense but they don’t require hours everyday. Here are some ideas with detailed how to descriptions of meaningful activities dads can do with the kids.
These kinds of activities provide an opportunity to really connect, have fun together, observe how your child learns and they are not very time taking.
Dads Own Weekends
In our family mom’s day off is on the weekend. Apart from providing some much needed alone time to plan and recharge, it is dad’s time to reconnect. I used to plan things for them to do on the weekend, but as time went on they found their own groove. Some weekends they are homebodies and spend the weekend cooking, fixing things, washing the car, etc. There are so many important skills that kids learn with dad that are often different than what they would learn with mom. Other weekends they might go to an event, have lunch out, go to the park, hang out with friends, etc.
In our case, the weekend hasn’t always been Saturday and Sunday. Dad worked on some weekends but was able to take a weekday off here and there. It depends on each families’ schedule but it is possible to allocate at least one day in the week that dad owns fair and square.
Please read How to Nurture Your Self When You Homeschool