Note: The following post was written by “Covid-homeschooler” dad Matt Taylor, Content Director at InfoBloom. He’s worked for most of 2020 from home, amid the chaos and creativity that comes from working from home as the father of two young daughters.
This last year or so has been an interesting time for all of us. It’s brought more families to the idea of homeschool, and it’s made parents have to work from home, too. One big happy family under the same roof all day, every day, right?
The reality may not always match our expectations. Sometimes it’s a challenge to balance everyone’s needs throughout the day. It can be challenging for dads working from home to get everything done and feel like part of the family during work hours. Here are 6 tips to make this arrangement work, and be part of the homeschool experience, too.
1 – Remember the contributions he’s already making
Before you start thinking about what more you (or your husband) can do, realize that dad already does a lot to contribute. He’s working, providing income for the family, which sometimes allows the other parent to facilitate this homeschool experience for the kids.
Dads are sometimes the ones who make it possible to buy all those books and other learning materials. Or to pay for those neat trips to museums and state parks with the kids.
Before asking for more, it can go a long way to appreciate what Dad is already doing that helps make it possible for the family to homeschool in the first place.
2 – Capitalize on mornings, lunch breaks, and evenings
What things do you already need to do during your time off work? Try doing those things together.
For example, if you like to exercise in the mornings, try something with your kids, like riding a bike or going for a swim. This way, it can double as physical education for the day.
During your lunch break, have an easy cooking lesson as you make a meal together. While you eat, invite your kids to share with you what they’ve been working on for the day so far.
3 – Communicate about schedule
If you’re going to make this whole school-from-home AND work-from-home thing work together, you’ve got to communicate. Parents: communicate with each other about your schedules. Without that open channel of communication, schedule overlaps can become pretty distracting.
Typically the homeschool schedule may have a bit more flexibility than dad’s work. So it may be best to get clear on what dad’s daily routine looks like and then plan the homeschool routine around that. But, of course, every family’s situation is different. Find the approach that works best for yours.
If at all possible, give each other breaks throughout the day. If dad can take a break from work now and then, he can give mom a break from homeschool while he gets a chance to work on something with the kiddos.
4 – Teach what you like
If you can find the wiggle room in your schedule, find some time for dad to take on the role of teacher. Dads: find your strengths and favorite topics, and share your expertise in some of these areas.
For example, if you’re an accountant, perhaps you could show your kids some of your daily work for a math lesson. If you find science exciting, build a science experiment together. Demonstrate how to fix the car or keep up with home maintenance. Teach music lessons, fitness, or cooking classes.
Get creative with it! After all, your kids could use some interesting electives to break up their day.
5 – Get creative with it! After all, your kids could use some interesting electives to break up their day.
Do activities together on dad’s time off Many homeschool families like to keep things interesting by planning fun, educational activities to museums or historical landmarks. When you can, try to save some (or all) of these excursions for times when dad’s off work – afternoons, evenings, or weekends. Let dad be part of the fun of learning from anywhere that homeschooling allows.
6 – Help with prep for college and adult life
The importance of life skills in children’s education is often underrated. Many kids grow up and graduate high school without basic knowledge for surviving life as an adult. Involving dad is a sure way to round out their education in these subjects.
Teach your child the value of meal planning and using kitchen equipment correctly. Turn grocery trips into a lesson in reading, health, math, and finance. Keep kids participating in household chores, such as dishes, laundry, and yard work. Engage your kids in budgeting, and consider giving an allowance so they can practice this skill themselves.
As your child gets older, help them decide on a path after high school is complete. If they choose to attend college, help them to research, apply to, and select schools. Help them apply for financial aid and scholarships, so they can start their journey of financial independence on the right foot.
Though it’s a challenge balancing work, school, and family in the same house all day, there are plenty of ideas and resources for your family to not only make this arrangement work but to thrive in it. In the future, you may just look back on the memories of this time with fondness.