If I were to conduct a survey, asking my early elementary-aged kids to rate “school time with daddy” on a typical scale – with #1 being a kick-each-other-under-the-table-for-something-(anything)-to-do-to-escape-the-boredom and #10 being a call to arms to oust the current homeschool dictator (mom) in favor of a fresh, if virtually untested, educatorship – where would I fall? How do I rate as a homeschool dad?
I feel like there are a lot of positive memories from the days I have stepped in to fill the role of schoolteacher. I’ve wowed the kids with the classic vinegar and baking soda volcano experiment. We’ve read about the Pilgrims and explored life on board old sailing ships through models, pictures and videos. We play logic games together to hone those critical thinking skills. We make up goofy songs to sing about each other—a really fun way to enhance our rhyming vocabularies. Sometimes, if the subjects they are supposed to be doing aren’t going so well, I switch gears completely. Like the time we all just tumbled on the couch with a human body textbook that was grades beyond them and had a lively, two-hour discussion about the circulatory system (helped along by one of my daughters who, we discovered as we compared arms and foreheads, would make a great vein model). We even did math problems with Cheerios. OK, they may have been M&M’s…and a lot of those M&M’s may have been consumed during the lesson – but it was a lot of tasty fun!
I realize I probably shouldn’t start on the victory lap just yet. My intermittent days at the helm of this educational vessel haven’t all been smooth sailing. What about my experiment to show the kids how a sand and rock filter can clear a lot of junk out of dirty water? Failed! I didn’t end up with clear water, just dirty water that was now also full of sand. (Saved by YouTube). Do you know how embarrassing it is when your 8 year old needs help with math and you confidently lean over her shoulder – only to discover it has been somewhere between 15 and 20 years since you have even thought about long division by hand (and your brain refuses to give up “that” memory without a fight? (Saved by Google). Oh, and that time our volcano experiment was going so well? My 8 and 6 year-olds begged me to repeat it (again) when the younger kids woke up from naps. There was a lot of shrieking as the experiment got underway, but the tears were real and I was soon deserted by my youngest students as they ran crying to wherever their mother was – terrified by the overflowing mass of bubbles. (Saved by a handful of M&M’s.) I’ve been corrected by my 4 year old because I can’t draw a tiger. (Saved by. . . Nothing can save my art skills.) And then there’s “Dad, how do you spell___?” Having grown up using British spelling rules, I have to endeavor to keep the kids on the right continent with my carefully considered answer.
Now, while I haven’t officially polled my children yet, I get the feeling they won’t be unfurling the revolutionary banner in my honor any time soon. But it also seems they have no desire to give me the boot – which means something must be going right! And I’m positive that something is time. You know what I mean, dads. Whether it’s a typical school day, a field trip day, one of those “life lesson” days (where you teach them about something like changing oil and checking fluids) or even a day where it seems like everything is just half a step from being in rhythm, you have spent time with your kids – who love knowing that you make them a priority. Giving your kids your time is possibly one of the greatest gifts you can give them. It’s an investment that has a proven, positive outcome on your children’s educational success, personal confidence and deeply held beliefs.
But…I’m sure you are well aware of this already. After all – you decided to homeschool! And I’m guessing your kids don’t need to be polled for you to know how much they enjoy spending time with you. So, enjoy the day and enjoy those children! Happy Father’s Day!