If you are a mom and most of the home education falls on you, you may be tempted to avoid spending time thinking about where homeschool Dad fits in. When you become your family’s teacher, you create a learning family. Dad has a tremendous influence on the success of both the homeschool and the co-op.
The role of Homeschool Dad is unique to each family. My husband has had different roles in our homeschool during different family stages. He has been the math teacher. He has read books aloud to our kids each evening. One summer he started with The Hobbit and went all the way through The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The same thing happened with the Chronicles of Narnia. He is working through Little Pilgrim’s Progress with our five year old right now. Other homeschool dads I know have taught computer programming and high school biology.
|The Illustrated Little Pilgrim’s Progress: From John Bunyan’s Classic / Illustrated edition
By Helen L. Taylor / Moody Publishers
A homeschool dad should manage conflict on his side of the family if they have misconceptions about what homeschooling involves. Because you are home does not mean you are available all day.
Homeschool Dad is probably going to have to give up his dreams of a house in perfect order. Your home is also a school now. Homeschool Dad needs to attend some of the homeschool convention lectures to help get on the same page as Homeschool Mom. He should get to know other homeschool dads. It can get lonely countering the culture. He should be in communication about what is being learned and he should quiz the kids informally – ask them about the books they are reading, listen to them read aloud their essays, admire their projects and flash them their flashcards. No matter how competent Homeschool Mom is, she needs Homeschool Dad’s support, feedback, and accountability.
All this requires Homeschool Mom to be open to Homeschool Dad’s suggestions, gentle critiques, and ideas. Sometimes the gut reaction will be to shut Homeschool Dad down. Not every idea is a good one, of course, and often he is not home to see how everything works. Commit to thinking about and praying about things before you open your mouth, both of you! Be encouraged that he is thinking about your homeschool day, Mom. If you are discouraging, you may train your husband to be hands off – bad for you and terrible for your kids.
When I asked my husband to define his role in our co-op he joked that he makes sure the kid’s get a good breakfast on that morning because we have to be out the door early and I tend to toss a granola bar at them as we pile into the car. The co-op kids would say his role is to surprise everyone with hot chocolate on a really cold day. The year that I had a newborn, he altered his work schedule so that he could keep the baby at home until mid-morning, giving me an hour or two of teaching time without baby responsibilities.
My husband, after he was finished joking, wisely defined Dad’s role as another extension of his leadership in the home. The co-op education must be compatible with each family’s individual education plan. A group of moms together can push, sway, or just because of great interest and enthusiasm, start co-op traveling in a particular direction that is incongruent with a homeschool family’s bent or intent. My spouse is the sounding board and teammate I need to help me steer the homeschool ship to its destination. Dads help oversee the structure of the co-op group as it effects your own family. The group can’t overtake over your personal and home goals.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am no shrinking flower waiting for a word from my husband because I can’t think for myself. But because we have been partners in this homeschool thing and teammates in navigating life and child rearing for over 20 years now (and eight years of friendship before marriage!), we both know enough to know we need help to keep the end game in mind. Interpersonal struggles, confusion, and hurt feelings need someone close, but outside the group, to help bring clarity and an objective or alternative viewpoint.
In reality, a dad’s understanding of what we do and why we do it creates a smoother co-op. Dad should understand the time commitment, be comfortable with the materials being taught, especially theology and history, and philosophy.
One of Dad’s roles (or whoever the non-teaching parent is in the co-op situation), is to know what is going on in co-op in order to reinforce and discuss at home. I always request a parent to read the major works we are studying along with the student. Co-op is homeschooling. Co-op is not passing our children off onto someone else to educate. That is school.
We maximize the homeschool experience when we are personally involved in the contemplation of what our dialectic and rhetoric stage students are learning. Our children are, first and foremost, souls to be nurtured. For me, homeschooling is all about relationship. When we have meaningful discussion about the important issues brought up in the literature we are reading, we are building relationships with our children, training them to discuss with civility, and teaching them to defend their position. This is real critical thinking. Ask them open ended questions. Seek to find out what they got from what they read.
If reading is not your thing or theirs, take turns reading a page or chapter to each other. Some families find audiobooks the best way to read a long book. We did this over the summer with The Brothers Karamazov. We listened whenever we were in the car. Incredibly, we read a thousand pages this way, in two months. Sometimes the promise of watching the movie version helps speed along the process of reading a book. Be sure to celebrate with popcorn and treats. They will probably be quite ready to discuss the differences between the movie and the film and what they left out. Only once did we prefer the movie to the book.
Whatever Homeschool Dad’s role ends up being, let’s encourage one another and build each other up! Homeschool dad, you are awesome!
WHAT WILL DAD’S ROLE BE IN OUR HOMESCHOOL? IN CO-OP? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________
IS MOM OR DAD WILLING TO COMMIT TO READING CLASSICS WITH MY OLDER CHILDREN SO THAT I CAN DISCUSS LIFE’S BIG QUESTIONS? WHEN WILL WE READ?
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