Question: “Hey, Dad. Can I Help?” Answer: “Yes.”

Our children want to spend time with us.  As much as some may complain that kids today are addicted to the internet, video games, text-messaging and other forms of hypnotic electronica, I believe that if we welcomed more opportunities for our kids to spend time with us, most children would jump at the chance.

For example, if I were to say to my nine year old, “Would you like my to read your favorite book to you, or would you like to watch television.”  She will invariably choose storytime with Dad.   And if I say, “Do you want to play Wackyball in the backyard?” she would never reply, “Oh, I’d rather sit here and play with my Gameboy.”

Of course, the trouble is this: Parents don’t always have the free time to say “Hey, let’s do something fun together.”  Sometimes we have to pay bills online, we have to change the oil, we have to weed the garden, or mop the floor, or balance the checkbook. We are busy with all of these ever-so-important (and ever-so-boring) activities.  How can we possibly fit in quality time, let alone homeschooling time?

Well, think about this.  Have your kids ever come up to you when you were in the middle of a household chore or when you were trying to tackle a work-related task from the office.  Maybe your child asked, “What are you doing?”  And maybe you responded by saying, “Work stuff.  I’ll be done in an hour or two.”  Maybe the kid even asked if he could help, but because you wanted to get the job over as quickly as possible you said “Thanks but no thanks.”

Never say “Thanks but no thanks,” when your child wants you to help.  this is a parenting moment.  This is a time when you can priase the child’s developing work ethnic and his growing identity as a contributing member of the family.  Moreover, this is a teaching moment.

No matter what the task happens to be — there are things to learn.  Are you putting in laundry and detergent?  Then it’s time to talk about chemistry.  It’s time to discuss the effect of cold water versus hot water on clothing.  How does soap work anyway?

Are you paying bills online?  It’s time to talk about the old days of balancing checkbooks.  Discuss the way business changes with each passing generation.  It’s also a great time to talk about money.  How someone earns it.  How careful one must be when keeping track of expenses.  How are math skills important.

Are you doing something difficult?  Is it just a “one-man” job?  Then find some way for your child to assist you — even if it’s just holding the lugnuts while you change the tire.  (Remember “A Christmas Story”?)  As you perform the task, talk to your child throughout the process.  Explain what you are doing.  Why you are doing it this way.  Ask him/her questions to see if they can guess what will be done next.

Of course, this is all basic stuff that every parent should be doing — regardless of whether he homeschools his children.  But sometimes we get so focused on completing our busywork — we forget that our children want to spend time with us — whether at work or at play.  Life is a series of teaching moments — even the everyday stuff that we often want to mindlessly hurry through.