This is a song I sing a lot. As I spend the entire day every day with our five children, sometimes going days without ever leaving our property, I always look forward to Daddy walking in the door. At times, I anticipate the moment so I can hand off a fussy baby, other times so I can relate some funny or insightful comment that one of the kids made that day. Sometimes I look forward to his homecoming because I have issued an earlier “just-you-wait-until-your- father-gets-home” warning and other times I am just relieved to have another adult home so I can use the bathroom! Whatever the reason, Daddy’s homecoming each evening is always a much-anticipated event. And, if your house is anything like mine, time spent with Daddy at home always seems short. The Daddy that lives at our house is a busy marketing associate who works hard to provide for us; he is a volunteer firefighter who is always on call to rush to the aid of those who need him; and, if that is not enough, he is the young men’s president, responsible for all the boys ages 12 to 18 in our ward.
Our Daddy is a very busy man and most of the responsibility for teaching the children falls upon me as the mother. The Proclamation on the Family states that “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children ... In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” I have found myself struggling through the years to work out ways to include my husband in the education of our children and in other responsibilities at home. Three practices have stuck and have really made a positive impact as we strive to support one another as our children learn at home. Regular father’s interviews, dinnertime discussions about the learning of the day, and ‘dad homework’ allow Daddy to keep abreast of what the children are learning and also serve as ways that Daddy can support me in my role both as mother and as teacher.
Father’s interviews happen the first Sunday of each month at our house. To be honest, I don’t always know a lot of what is discussed at those meetings but I know that each of our children is called into Dad’s office for some one-on-one talks. I know that they talk about what they are learning in their schoolwork and about other things. The message this sends to the children is clear. ‘Dad loves me, is concerned for me, and is interested in what I am doing. I am important enough to him for him to schedule time for me on a regular basis.’ It also establishes and reinforces communication. The kids grow up spending regular time talking to their Daddy alone, which hopefully will keep the lines of communication open for them as they grow older. Also, these regular appointments help to keep Dad in the loop. He is aware of what is going on and can back Mom up when necessary.
Another tool that we use to involve Dad in the teaching/learning at home is through our dinner discussions. Often Daddy will ask, as we sit around the supper table together, “what did you learn in school today?” As each child takes their turn relating something from their studies, Dad is offered insight into their learning and the day’s lessons are reinforced in the children’s minds as they reiterate what they studied. Listening in on this conversation can help me, too, to know what my children are understanding and what facts they may need to review. My favorite story from these dinnertime discussions happened when a preschooler told Daddy about the “giant salamis that are taller than our house and can destroy whole cities!” An older sibling had learned about tsunamis in science that day and this little guy was very interested as he overheard the lesson!
The third practice that we have found helpful in our home is to save a small part of the day’s lesson for Daddy to teach or review in the evening. At our house, that is often math as that is definitely not my forte. Our older children need Dad’s help in understanding a math concept on a regular basis. However, Daddy also listens to the younger children read and that creates priceless time for them to cuddle on his lap as he praises them for their progress. It is surprising how easy it is to find a learning task that Daddy can help with that will only take 10 to 15 minutes after dinner. In this way, he is able to participate in both the responsibility and the reward of teaching his children. And, let’s face it, sometimes the children just need to have something explained to them by someone else for it to stick.
Even though I am primarily responsible for the academic learning in our home, my husband is still the head of the house. He, as a priesthood holder, is the leader in our home and an important teacher in the lives of our children. He is the one who leads us in family scripture study and who presides over family home evening. I am so grateful for the hard work that my husband does and all the time he spends away from home so that I can have the blessing of staying at home and teaching and nurturing our children. While there are the occasional days that I may fantasize about trading places with him for a few hours, I feel like I have such a privilege in watching my children learn and grow every step of the way. I want to share that joy and opportunity with him whenever I can. Yes, I’m so glad when Daddy comes home!
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