Whenever we could, the main principle my husband and I tried to follow in our homeschool was child-led learning. Child-led learning (aka “follow the child”) is what I consider the most important principle of Montessori education – regardless of the child’s age. And child-led learning is often where dads – and grandpas – can help the most educationally.
I was a stay-at-home mom and my husband, Terry, worked full-time. I wasn’t about to ask Terry to help equally with the homeschooling. But he was an essential part of our homeschool anyway. Not just for the love and financial support he gave us but also for the many ways in which he helped encourage our children’s interests. And even though our children, Christina and Will, are now 20 and 25, Terry continues to encourage their interests.
Dad and Sports
Like many dads, Terry loves sports. He was always happy to help Will and Christina with their sports-related interests, whether they were learning to ride a bike, ski, roller blade, skate, golf, play tennis, learn karate – or participate in any other sport.
As a family, we went to a homeschool co-op roller skating Friday – and then joined a roller skating dance club when Christina was 5 and Will was 10. We also spent many magical days skiing as a family and even went to family ski camp two years in a row.
When Will and Christina became competitive figure skaters, Terry and I watched countless figure-skating training sessions and competitions. When Terry couldn’t attend a competition (especially when Will and Christina competed internationally), he talked with Will and Christina both before and after each competition by phone.
Although ballet may be considered by many an art rather than a sport, we used dance for part of our high-school physical-education credits because of the physical exercise and skill involved. Terry helped with that as well. Dance was always one of Christina’s very favorite activities, so Terry encouraged her to dance spontaneously at home. He attended every dance recital and watched every dance movie Christina wanted to watch (and that’s a lot of dance movies)!
Dad and Reading/Storytelling
Will and Christina always loved reading and stories. Terry supported their interest with lots of reading aloud. Terry, Will, and Christina went through the entire Redwall series. Terry also made up creative stories for them at bedtime. When Christina wanted to study vocabulary, Terry created interesting sentences using new vocabulary words.
Dad and Building
Will enjoyed building with wooden blocks and Legos. Terry built lots of wooden constructions, Lego designs, and even an igloo-like snow fort with Will. Of course, Christina was always welcomed in the construction adventures.
Dad and Music
Terry is a proficient guitarist. When Christina wanted to learn piano, he bought a piano and helped her with music theory. Later, he taught both Will and Christina to play guitar when they showed interest.
Dad and Field Trips/Road Trips
Even though I was the adult who attended field trips with our home school co-op, Terry often organized family field trips to nature areas. He enjoyed road trips as much as the rest of the family, and those road trips and educational stops became regular parts of our homeschooling.
Grandpa and Child-Led Learning
Although my father was the only grandpa still alive to help with our child-led learning, he did an awesome job. As a farmer and electrical contractor, he had a farm with fascinating activities for both Will and Christina. He was always willing to show Will and Christina how things operated, give rides on the farm equipment (especially important to a vehicle-obsessed boy like Will), help Will and Christina learn about gardening, and show them how to make homemade ice cream.
Even though I was considered our homeschool teacher, I was certainly not the only person involved in Will and Christina’s education. The most important men in our lives showed that learning was important to them as well. Whether or not you homeschool, how do the men in your family help with child-led learning?