How Dad Can Help with Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

I remember watching the Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan era. It was amazing to watch Michael Jordan play. He was a dominant force, there’s no doubt. But as good as he was, he could do only so much by himself. The best games were when the whole team was working together. Michael Jordan couldn’t have won any of those championships by himself. It took a team.

Homeschooling is like that. The best home schools are a team effort. Most likely there is one person in your home who does most of the work of homeschooling. In many homes that’s the mother. But that one person, even if she is a very talented person, cannot take your home school as far as a team effort can.

The question is, What does a team effort look like in homeschooling—especially when one of those team members is working full time somewhere else? In some homes that full-time worker is mom; in many others—perhaps most, it’s dad. So today I’m going to give you 10 ideas for how dads can contribute to the team effort. But keep in mind that these ideas will also apply if those roles are switched.

10 Ways for Dad to Be Involved

These ideas are compiled from four different sources. They are all Charlotte Mason homeschool dads who lived from the mid-1800s up to today. What’s interesting is that, even though these fathers span a range of almost 200 years, their ideas ring true and relevant across the decades. What’s more, they’re doable!

So let’s dive in.

1. Show an Interest

Show an interest in what the children are learning. Engage them in conversations. One dad put it this way: “Some homeschool dads find it awkward to read aloud to their children but help out by doing some meaningful listening as their children talk, a sort of ‘spontaneous narration’ of the day’s events. ‘Hey, Dad, guess what?’ The importance of providing this attention should not be underestimated.”

And don’t confine that learning to just lesson times. You can also show an interest in the habits they are working on. A big part of a Charlotte Mason education is cultivating good habits in life. So show an interest in their progress in that aspect of education too. Encourage them in good habits.

2. Listen to Narrations

Offer to hear your students’ oral exams at the end of the term. Exam week comes three times during the school year—about every three months or so. You can be the audience for Scripture or poem recitations or for oral narrations. You can listen to your budding reader read a section of his book aloud. You can hear your student describe her favorite picture from the term and tell why it is her favorite. Knowing that there will be another person listening to their exams can encourage your students to put forth a little more effort. It will also go a long way toward showing your students that what they are doing and the education that they are getting is important to you.

3. Read Aloud

Read aloud at bedtime or on your days off. If reading aloud is something you enjoy, share that with your children. If you don’t feel comfortable reading aloud, you can still sometimes get the audiobook and listen to it together as you follow along in a printed copy. There is something about sharing a great book together that forms a strong bond between you and your child, plus it will give you a common experience to talk about.

4. Nature Walks

Take the children for nature walks. Even if you don’t know much about nature, this time together will give your students an opportunity to share what they know and what they have discovered in their own nature studies. Your main role is to be interested and willing to learn and discover along with them. One homeschool dad recalled that his children delighted to show him the paths that led to a well known meadow, wood, or stream where they “were able to point out where the earliest primrose or wild daffodil was to be found, to tell me when the herons had returned to their nests in the lofty trees above the lake, or note the scent of the fox that had passed that morning.” You don’t have to know everything; just share your children’s enthusiasm and encourage them to keep learning about nature.

5. Help Out Around the House

Do what you can around the house to support the main teacher. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, dishes, and scheduling for a family is a large task. Lay on top of that the effort and time required for planning and homeschooling several students, and the task increases exponentially. If you’re counting on one person to carry that whole load alone, your star player may end up burned out. Wise homeschooling parents will sit down and together figure out how to share the load. Have frank conversations and clear expectations about what will help both of you maintain the energy that is needed for your assigned tasks. In other words, figure out how to work as a team outside of school hours too. Perhaps you can both work on household tasks.

One homeschool dad started a family tradition of making pancakes on Saturday mornings while the mom had some time to herself. Another does the grocery shopping, sometimes taking one or more of the children along. A team effort means each person prioritizing the resources and energy needed to give your children an excellent education; each person contributing to the happiness and advancement of the home.

6. Share Your Own Interests

Cultivate and share your own interests. Not all learning has to happen during set school hours. Include your children in your own hobbies and let them see your enthusiasm to keep learning as an adult. Whether your interest is in architecture, robotics, woodworking, music, computer programming, auto mechanics, graphic design, or baseball, your children will gain so much from watching you learn and sharing that interest with you.

7. Field Trips

Take your family to museums, aquariums, parks, and zoos. One of the best things about homeschooling is that you can go on your own field trips when it’s convenient for you. Even if you can’t be hands-on every day during school work, you can find out what artist or history time period or plant or animal your children have been studying and take them to go see a related exhibit once or twice a year. Those family outings will be treasured investments in your children’s education.

8. Attend a Homeschool Conference

Arrange to attend homeschool conferences. Conferences provide valuable professional training as well as encouragement and support. Investing in a homeschool conference is a wonderful way to help the main teaching parent develop effective skills and keep growing as a teacher. Whether you attend the conference with your spouse or arrange to watch the kids while your spouse attends the conference, think of those efforts as an investment. Team players need to have the same mindset. They need to view the game from the same perspective in order to work effectively together. It’s the same for homeschooling parents, and a homeschool conference offers an opportunity to make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to your children and their education. 

9. Help with Teaching

Teach some of the school subjects. If you are qualified and your schedule allows it, take over some of the classes. You might have to hold those lessons at different times of the day, outside of “normal” school hours, but that’s another beauty of homeschooling: You’re not locked into any particular time frame. Charlotte Mason’s father was one of her teachers. Though it was a very unusual practice in that particular era of history, he shared the teaching of the school subjects with her mother. Today it’s not so unusual to approach lessons as a team effort. Even if you’re not particularly gifted in a certain subject, you can still take the lead in some of the shorter lessons of the day. For example, leading the family in doing Scripture memory takes only five minutes a day and can often be done at breakfast or another shared meal, whatever fits your schedule best. One homeschool dad told me that the Scripture Memory Box “is easy to get into but gives a good return on investment. It’s not hard to be at one meal when we do it.”

10. Share Your Life History

Discuss your own life history. As your children grow older, they will benefit from candid conversations about challenges and obstacles you faced in your life, about decisions you made and how you went about making them, as well as what happened because of the choices you made. That kind of personal living history can go a long way toward contributing to your children’s education.

Your Role in a Charlotte Mason Education

You see, a foundational tenet of a Charlotte Mason approach is that education is more than just book work. Education is a combination of the Atmosphere of your home life, the Discipline of good habits for every family member, and a Life filled with vital interests and continual learning in a vast array of areas. The more you can contribute to all three aspects—atmosphere, discipline, and life—the more impact you will have on who your child is now and who he is becoming. 

Your child will receive a better education from a team effort than he will from just one player, even if his teacher is a star player. So think about how you can contribute and support in a way that is true to who you are but also encourages you to keep learning and growing as a person. It’s all part of educating in a Charlotte Mason home school.

One comment

  1. These are all really great ideas. Thank you for sharing this, because getting dad involved is definitely not talked about enough, and yet it’s very important for dads to be engaged and a part of their child’s education!

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