Dad School

Not to be confused with Home Schooling – though it is very similar, I have started something called “Dad School.” Now, all you home schoolers out there – don’t be offended that I’m not calling this home school, in fact, I’m seeking your advice! The only reason I’m making a distinction, is that home schooling is when you aren’t sending your kid to school. And my son does go to preschool and we will be sending him to full time school this fall. But in the meantime – I want to start pouring into him as his dad, while he is still in the home while he is young. There is so much I can teach him, and relationally the benefits will be huge!

I already do an evening “Family Pit Stop” for spiritual formation, but I’d like to invest just one hour a day in teaching my son other skills that he needs as a young boy, especially areas he is struggling with in school. We had our “parent-teacher” conference last week and learned where he is struggling, and what is a parent to do, say “O.K., that’s interesting?” Not me. I prayed about it and decided, just as it isn’t the church’s primary job to teach my boy about the Bible, it isn’t the school’s job to teach him his life skills either. If he is struggling – it is MY responsibility to step in and help. I took Luke for a walk that evening and we talked about school and where he needs help learning (turns out he is a lot like his daddy!) and we came up with the idea of “Dad School.” Of course, Luke loves the idea of a full hour with dad, but he also agreed that he would work hard – and I promised some rewards. We plan to surprise the teachers when the next test day comes around and they are surprised how well he does! He can’t wait to answer the question, “How did you learn all this?” and say, “In Dad School!”

So today was spent setting up Luke’s “classroom.” We got a really nice desk on clearance a few weeks ago at Pottery Barn kids (a floor display with a few bumps and bruises) and I took Luke to the “School Store” today, Lakeshore Learning Center. He is so excited! And I set him up on an old iMac we no longer use and he played his first learning computer game with Thomas the Train:

I’ve been a teacher in church for nearly twenty years, and I consider myself a pretty good parent – but I admit this is all new to me! I’ve got a bunch of supplies and a son whom I’ve earned respect and obedience from so I’m confident I can get him to focus for the hour (with a little wiggle room) but I’d love any advice on home schooling from you “pros” out there.

I have some specific goals for the next few months – many are obvious, the alphabet, upper and lower, numbers 1-20, learning small words, penmanship, etc. but then I want to get into some Christian history and biography and other areas that I know schools never touch. I remember the things my dad taught me informally (never calling it “Dad School,” though it was!) and I remember being at school and being surprised by the things my peers didn’t know that my dad had taught me. Its a heritage I want to intentionally pass on to my son now that I’m the dad.

So, all you home schoolers out there – I have the eager student, I have the “classroom,” I have the supplies, and I’m teachable!

Let me know your thoughts!

Update: O.K., I’ve had a few questions/requests if I had a “plan” and/or an actual lesson plan, which I do. Here is a copy of my first week’s lesson plan/overview. There is more behind it than I’m going to bother explaining here, but it’s just the skeleton to keep me on task and there is a rhyme and reason behind it – and more than meets the eye – but I do have a plan and a strategy. But it will give you an idea of where I’m headed at least initially.

Download: Dad School – Week One Lesson Plan/Overview (PDF 109kb)

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  1. I’ve been homeschooling for over 11 years. One girl (willing and eager), one boy (not-willing and not-eager! LOL) and it sounds like you have a good plan. I know it looks like a lot on paper, but some things only take a few minutes a day. It’s repetition that counts. Try to find different ways to present the same material. I think you know this by now, just in the way you teach children’s church. Second is if he doesn’t respond well at first to a certain topic or lesson, let it go. He will later. Boys are boys and some stuff just doesn’t appeal to them at first. But it sounds like you have an eager student. It’s a blessing to see how much you love that boy!!!!

  2. Karl, I am really impressed with your lesson plan. Looks like you have put a lot of thought into this. I remember the excitement I felt as I made lesson plans for my daughter as we started “Kindergarten”.

    I was a little taken aback when you said that Luke had areas where he was “struggling?” In Preschool? Wow. I think there are things that a child is unable to do YET because of development. Time corrects a lot of that and practice of course, but sometimes I think we expect too much of our kids and forget they are kids. Some people do not even agree with children being in “school” until they are seven. However, I guess my advice would be to not put too much pressure on him (which I don’t think you will) but to let him be a kid and let this time be fun and “memory building”. One of the blessings of homeschool (in our state) was that we were only required to do a CAT one time a year. No pressure with all those tests that public school kids had. I see kids at church who are under tremendous pressure to pass tests in 3rd grade and it seems to be getting younger and younger. I think that kind of pressure is totally unnecessary. That said, I do not see what you are doing as “pressure”. I see it as wonderful!

    One of the things that we loved when my daughter was younger was learning games. She didn’t even realize it was learning and when she had “struggles” learning something (like the multiplication tables), this always seemed to work best. I searched, scrounged, researched and even made up games that we could play where she would learn something in the process. Math games, spelling games, hopscotch alphabet, jump to the letter to spell it out, etc. Those are our best memories of our homeschool experience.

    One more thing and I will hush. Determine Luke’s learning style and aim toward that. Is he kinestetic? Is he musical? Is he visual? Is he linguistic? Is he a combo? In “School” most of the time they teach by one style and the child has to adjust. When you are schooling a child at home you have the PRIVILEDGE of teaching to that child’s distinct learning style. It took me a few years to learn this….and I have seen other parents struggle with this. The parents want to teach a certain way, but in essence it is not about the parent. It’s about the child. My daughter’s style was musical and anything I could put to music or have HER put to music, she learned it easier and faster and it stuck. Even in 10th grade when she was struggling with a definition she made up a tune and learned the definition that way. She’s in her first year of college and she can still tell you that definition. HA.

    Well, as you can see I am a very big fan of schooling at home….whether that is part time or full time. God has given you a gift….the gift of Dad time with Luke. How I would love to relive that time in my life again. It went by far too quickly. Enjoy it! Enjoy him. He will be 19 (like my Leah) before you know it. Blessings.

  3. Tammie – I wholeheartedly agree with you! See my follow-up post and Dad School Day one. I probably shouldn’t have said “struggling” – I completely agree that kids need to be kids! He only goes to preschool 2 half days a week. His “struggles” are like mine (as an adult) sitting still! I often say I have to teach workshops because I can’t sit through them! LOL He is a very active little boy, and has a hard time sitting still, but he is very sweet and kind, not wild or mean. Just has the wiggles, but I have no problem keeping him focused, and that comes out of my relationship with him. So I want to harness that and teach him some of the things they are unable to in a group setting where he gets distracted. I’m so excited to be his teacher!

  4. Sounds like Luke is a normal boy :) Have fun with it. When it starts to become too forced then we’re doing something wrong. Just like we need to capture kids’ imaginations with Christ, we need to capture their imaginations with the adventure of learning.

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