Independent Learning Homeschool Curriculum – School of Dad

Being a Dad is great, I had wanted to be a dad since I was very little and seeing my dad have kids early made me want to have kid at a younger age. I had my firstborn at around age 20 when my peers were not even considering kids unless it was by “accident”. Now that I am a father and am able to share things with my kids I find myself without enough knowledge to share at times. The things I was interested in as a child are not the same things that my kids are going to be involved in or they are already far advanced in. My desires over the last few years have shifted and I find myself being drawn to a lot of different hobbies. Photography, graphic design, gardening, auto mechanics, and art are all hobbies that I have taken up in one form or another.

Background

Jennifer does most of the homeschooling for the kids. She picks out the curriculum and has the day to day responsibility of teaching the children the basics. Math, language arts, science, history, and Bible etc. I at times feel as though I’m an outsider when it comes to the education of my children. I think many dads feel this way at one time or another.

School of Dad

Our response has been to add a class to the kids calendar on Homeschool Planet. We named this course the “School of Dad.” In this module I can add tasks for the children to complete, approved videos for them to watch, chores that they should be doing, and/or whatever else I think they might need to supplement their basic curriculum. One day I discovered the Draw with Jazza, a YouTuber who has some great videos on art, animation, and drawing. I added the task of simply watching a certain video which the children really enjoyed. Now Jazza is one of their favorite YouTubers and the renewed interest in drawing has inspired me to get them a Wacom drawing tablet.

Jennifer: One of the most valuable attributes that my husband brings to the table with regards to teaching our children is his willingness to seek out and try things that interest him. He’s never afraid to try something new even if he’s not sure he will be successful. I’m so glad to see our kids follow him in this trend. There’s something so reassuring about seeing our son trying to create something or use a new tool without trepidation or fear of judgment.

Letting Go

Our oldest is a sponge when it comes to learning. But their are some questions that you don’t want to answer because I might have it wrong. As parents we need to recognize that we are not the authority on knowledge. To combat this Jennifer was able to find a used complete encyclopedia set that a school was selling to get an updated version. The set came and show almost no signs of use. Now if he has a question he can look it up in the encyclopedia set before trying to find the answer on google. I have also found that he will just sit and read the encyclopedia for fun or when he sees an interesting topic related to something he has looked up.

Jennifer: World Book puts out a fancy new expensive set every year with a few changes and updates from the previous version. I compromised and selected a two-year old version and bought it from a used book seller on Amazon. This enabled me to buy a $1500 book set for around a $200 investment. Bonus, it’s more reliable than your average Wikipedia page and safer than a google search for our kids.

Providing Resources

One of the foundational parenting styles that Jennifer and I share is that if our children want to try something, if they want to learn something, we will do our best to make sure they have the materials to accomplish it. My oldest wanted to make foam rubber armor like he saw on another YouTube channel, Punished Props. We had the materials on hand and let him go for it. He spent the next two weeks getting up early to work on the costume. The end result was a great looking handmade costume that he was proud of and he learned new skills in the process.

Even Coding?

We have recently learned that our kids have an interest in coding. It started out as a simple Arduino hardware kit my oldest was working on. Next we found a free resource that MIT developed called Scratch. A few online books later and they were both on their way to learning coding. Now we use coding as a “skill course” in their curriculum but they do much more of it in their free time.

If you are looking for ideas in this realm of learning I suggest watching some YouTube channels to get some ideas. There are plenty of scratch tutorials and other beginning software for coding.

Jennifer: OK so I was totally intimidated by the whole coding idea. I tried learning HTML in my younger days and failed miserably. Ultimately I just had to remember that my kids are different than me and that they will not necessarily share my limitations in life. Like with any “curriculum” it can be a risk to make a purchase but, for us, this one paid off big time. I didn’t have to learn anything about coding. Our kids just took off with it. My role as a teacher (as with most subjects) simply involves setting up parameters, asking them questions about what they learned and challenging them to find ways to improve their designs. If our kids hadn’t enjoyed coding or been successful at it we would have simply moved on to a different subject and tried that. Not all kids need to know coding nor will they be adept at it and that’s OK.

Additional Resources

If you are wanting to know about hardware check out raspberry pi. I just saw a video where a kid made and programed a mirror to be a smart mirror using raspberry pi and other downloadable software. Also if you have old and obsolete devices or computers sit down with your children one day and take them apart. I learned a great deal about how a computer is made by simply pulling one apart. If you don’t have an old computer lying around watch a disassembly tutorial or get a cheap computer part from goodwill or your local thrift stores.

Conclusion

So, while I can’t take the credit for my children creativity or desire I think that much of the interest in these endeavors has come from the ability to have the materials and the flexibility to let them learn on their own. Jennifer never had to teach them to code, I never had to show them how to draw or what to draw. We just allowed them the freedom, gave them the tools provided safe boundaries and let them explore while being present to witness and encourage their growth.

Comment below if you have advice for homeschool dads or other fun projects that you would like to share. Be sure to check back to the Blog soon as we are ramping up the writing to bring you more valuable content.