Beyond Basic Academics

Illustration of a dad helping his son work on a model car; mother looks on from the background
Pascal Campion

My wife and I were excited to have the option to home-school, but we worried about the high-school years. We wandered through our first home-school conference in a fog, overwhelmed by all the decisions that lay ahead. But as the leader of my family, I felt a responsibility to be involved in those decisions.

Dads can play an active role in their kids' education, whether kids are home-schooled or attend a public or private school. Here are several ideas for getting more involved in your kids' education and for strengthening your family's learning culture.

Show your kids you value learning 

 When dads follow their curiosity and explore subjects that interest them, their kids see that reading, asking questions and studying are normal and good. My wife carries much of the daily teaching responsibility, but we set the direction of the curriculum together so our kids see education is a priority for both of us. If your kids are in public or private schools, you can guide them as they choose electives.

Talk through ideas and concepts

 Sharing ideas informally is an essential part of a child's education. To create an environment where that can happen, turn off TVs and computers in the evening. This will allow you to spend time as a family reading aloud, exploring ideas and discussing what the kids are learning in school or are generally interested in.

Dads can take the lead in talking through the kids' studies each day. Explaining the significance and practical applications of a topic can reinforce important ideas kids are learning. And any curriculum — home school, public school or private school — might include ideas that dads should correct or clarify through discussion with their kids.

Don't stop at math and science

 Kids need more than basic academics. Topics that interest me are often difficult for my wife, so I take responsibility for at least one home-school subject each semester. As you consider teaching your kids, don't forget nonacademic subjects, such as woodworking, auto mechanics and gardening. Let your kids sense your passion and see how you use information in practical ways.

This article appeared in the August/September 2012 issue of Thriving Family magazine. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing for a gift of any amount.

Copyright © 2012 by Mark Einkauf. Used by permission.

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