Homeschooling Dads

I am the mother of two homeschooling fathers. Between the two sons I have five young granddaughters, and watching them learn about the world is one of my favorite pastimes.

Recently, while the whole family was gathered for the holidays, we took all five girls on a trip to an aquarium. Their excitement was contagious as they explored the exhibits, checking out the jellyfish, octopus and sea lions. Their dads wandered along with their moms, reading display labels, while the girls ranged farther afield and I tagged along behind. But everyone came together at the “touch tanks,” where sea anemones, small fish, tiny crabs, starfish and more were available for close examination. The two dads helped their daughters explore the touch tanks, telling them about the sea creatures, holding the youngest up for a better look. I have photos, but I don’t need them, because I can still see those happy homeschooled fathers with their excited homeschooling youngsters, passing the learning down through generations.

The articles collected here present perspectives and reflections of many other fathers who homeschool their children. If you have favorite articles or resources, please drop us a note and we’ll add them to this collection on Homeschooling Dads.

Homeschooling Fathers by Gary Wyatt – Children need more of their fathers and fathers need more of their children. Men have an extraordinary potential to realize in the lives of their kids, a potential that goes beyond narrowly defined gender roles that limit a father’s station in the family to that of “provider and disciplinarian.”As I consider my own life, and the lives of the homeschooling fathers that I know, many of us feel a yearning to be more involved with our children. Unfortunately, circumstance and our own socialization often positions us on the fringe of both family life and the homeschool experience. We bring home the paychecks, take out the trash, fix things that break, and leave homeschooling to our wives.

When Dad Homeschools: from Breadwinning to Baking Bread by Jim Dunn – As the primary homeschooling parent for my nine-year-old daughter, I am not your regular dad. Even among homeschoolers nationally, I am one of only .5% of primary caregivers who are fathers. Fathers as full-time care givers are pretty scarce, but far fewer are full-time homeschooling dads. This is not surprising, if we consider the father’s place in our culture. Dad has a fairly ambiguous position in the family, on the one hand the breadwinner, the one whose income is counted on, the one with the most earning power. But on the other hand, this role outside the family removes him from much of the family’s daily growth processes. His integrity in the family depends upon his absence.

Homeschooling and the Type A Dad by Brad Beckerman – “The picture of unschooling, as drawn by any number of authors and online purveyors of the practice, is surely a pretty one. After no small amount of study, I was left with a vision of the picture-perfect family. My own. In perfect harmony. Learning without trying, succeeding without sweat. If I were to pursue marketing as a vocation, and homeschoolers as my target population, I would be peddling unschooling. Everyone loves a product that sells itself.”

“And What Does Your Husband Do?” by Isabel Shaw – “You see my husband, Ray, left his job and homeschools our two girls. Curiously, this is harder for folks to fathom than the first two scenarios.”

Fear of Failure by Perry Venson – “I am in doubt about the future of my children. In reflecting, looking at what I am feeling, I see my fears are revolving around worries about what kind of work my children will get after homeschooling, of whether or not they may be at risk as adults in a world that looks increasingly scary.”

Q&A: Homeschooling Fathers edited by Laura Weldon – “My wife is an attorney and I work as a consultant to non-profit groups. We have thoroughly researched and discussed our alternatives, finally deciding to homeschool our son. I plan to discontinue working and pursue a graduate degree part time while homeschooling. All three of us are excited about making this change. My question is, are there other fathers out there who are the primary homeschooling parent? What has been their experience?”

Quirks of Fate by Jeff Kelety – For a little while I managed to let it go. I tried to convince myself that Myles’ proclamation was just a normal kid thing, a phase that would soon pass. After all, who could really find fault with such a self-effacing, boating, biking, wrestling, reading, model plane building, all-around homeschooling dad like me? Every kid should be so lucky – so I thought. But something was definitely amiss.

Interview with David Albert by Kim O’Hara – To this day I tell people I’m not “into” homeschooling. I’m committed to providing the best possible education for my children. That has turned out to be homeschooling. It was clear to us at a very early age that for Ali, there wasn’t really much that the public school system was going to be able to offer, and we were having such a good time as a learning family.

Notes from a Homeschooling Dad by Jeff Kelety – You can be sure that the first thing we did that morning was to bake up an apple pie. It turned out pretty good, too, and all the better since Myles rolled and set the crust and the apples came from our own backyard. But what stood out most in my mind from that morning’s Epicurean activity was the insight of a six-year-old to intentionally plan to “do nothing”. Could he be on to something here? I reflected how my own plans for accomplishment are more often than not eclipsed by the endless flurry of everyday tasks. So maybe next Thursday evening between 11 and 12 PM I’ll “plan to do nothing” and see what comes of it.

Time for Family Baseball by Earl Gary Stevens – We get to know each other better and become closer when we play together. People tend to let go of their reserve when they are running around the bases or chasing a bouncing ball. Our modified game is a wonderful choice for community play because practically everyone is familiar with baseball, and it is physically accessible to all ages and abilities. You need only a bat, a ball, a batting tee for the young and inexperienced, some carpet remnant bases, and an open field.

Interview with Patrick Farenga by Helen Hegener – Patrick Farenga lives in Medford, Massachusetts with his wife, Day, and three girls: Lauren (11), Alison (7), and Audrey (4), all of whom are homeschooled. Patrick has worked at Holt Associates since 1981, the year John Holt’s landmark book on homeschooling, Teach Your Own, was first published. He started off as a volunteer, packing books, answering phones, filling subscriptions, and typing up John Holt’s correspondence off tapes he dictated. Patrick has been president of Holt Associates Inc. and the publisher of Growing Without Schooling since Holt’s death in 1985.

Of Ponds and Tadpoles by Jeff Kelety – I bent down and peered through the murky, amber-colored pond water. One, two, three, four of them. There, behind that tuft of grass in the back, there’s three more. I counted twelve in all, twelve very much alive tadpoles wriggling silently in the shallow, alien depths of their new home – the kids’ goldfish bowl. I can’t remember what fate its former residents met up with. But now it was the temporary home to these delicate, beady-eyed amphibious transplants.

Time for a New Journey by Earl Gary Stevens – I began as a former high school teacher with the impression that home education was about me being the teacher and my child being the student. But I soon learned that those roles didn’t apply to us. The world abounds in knowledge, and all one need do is reach for it and feast along the way, without fuss or anxiety. For me the adventure turned out to be my relationship with my child and my discovery that the truly important qualities for leading the good life could not be taught, only respected and nurtured.

Dads Talk Ann Zeise’s Homeschooling A-to-Z – An excellent collection of articles by and about homeschooling dads. A website for homeschooling dads – “I knew there had to be more fathers like myself who homeschool their children either full-time or part-time.”

HEM’s Family Learning Package includes the book “Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery,” by David Albert, plus HEM’s “Family Learning” Back Issue Package, and a six month subscription to Home Education Magazine.

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