What Does A Homeschool Dad’s Do?
You may be asking, “What do homeschool dads do?” as you begin to look into whether homeschooling is the right option for you and your family, or your family might already be homeschooling but you still haven’t found where you belong in the process. I’m happy to say that I’ve finally figured out my part in homeschooling, and it’s one that both the wife and I agree works the best for all of us. I’d like to share my journey with you in hopes that it helps you figure it out for yourself. To do all that, though, I need to rewind the tape and reveal more about what homeschooling means to us as a family. It also gives me the opportunity to ask my favorite question:
Are You Homeschooling Out of Faith or Fear?
What do I mean by that? Well, the best way I can explain it is to begin with the fact that both my wife and I come from a public school background, and believe that public and private schools are perfectly viable choices for your kids. To some, such as working single mothers or fathers, it’s darn close to the only choice they have given the circumstances. To choose your schooling option out of faith doesn’t mean you choose based on whether you believe one to be evil and another not, but to choose based on the individual pluses and minuses of them all and weight out your options.
This allows you to ask yourself, “Which one is best for my family?” Another way to ask it is, “Which is best for my family at this point in time?” Situations change, just like people, and while one option may be the best for now, you may find that another holds more potential further down the road.
For us, and for now, homeschooling is the choice we’ve made and I’m grateful for the parents who fought the hard fight to give us the freedom to do so. I feel like I need to put out there, at least for me, that my wife taught 6th grade science for a few years before we had children. While this wasn’t the main factor in our decision to homeschool, nor did this automatically qualify her to teach anything else, this teaching experience, and her overall passion to teach, was a big factor for me. In fact, it’s safe to say that it’s the number one reason I’ve heard from people who say they want to homeschool, but don’t. They maybe feel like teaching isn’t a skill they possess, and to that I say, “Good for you!” I’m glad you know who you are, your strengths and your weaknesses, and you’re actually thinking with a level head about all that’s before you. However, I would like to add that you don’t have to have a teaching background to homeschool, but you do have to have the willingness to begin thinking like a teacher. That’s key.
These are the types of things to consider before making a decision to homeschool, and something we were fortunate to have before I had her barefoot, pregnant, and living in a trailer (no kidding). A new job, a move to a bigger house, 7 children, and about 8 years into this homeschool journey later, and I can say one thing for certain. We homeschool, as a family, but I’m almost 95% not involved with the process. To that I say, “Thank God!” The truth of the matter is, MOST dad’s really don’t have anything to do with the homeschool process.
That’s not a bad thing, it’s just reality. MOST Dad’s are gone during the normal homeschool hours and come home to help as needed. Sure, I get to reluctantly assist with math problems, and there are times I have to play principal when they need a little more encouragement to respect their mom, er… I mean, teacher, but my wife is the heart of it all. She does all the planning, preparing, and purchasing that goes along with providing the curriculums we use. She delegates the tasks, ensures the quality and completion of said tasks, and a whole lot more. My homeschool contribution can be summed up in a three word definition:
Question Asking Encourager
Let me explain.
We found for our family that the beginning of our homeschool journey was wrought with a thousand questions. Questions like:
- Should we just make up are own lessons or search out different curriculums that are available?
- If a curriculum, what curriculum do I use?
- How much do curriculum’s cost?
- How hands on should we be in homeschooling?
- Is it okay to have your child in front of a computer all day?
- Can we use Star Wars to teach about the underlying themes and causes of actual wars?
- Can we just watch Star Wars and not make a lesson out of it?
- Why does mommy not really care about Star Wars, but watch Hallmark movies all the time?
- Can we form a hypothesis from this line of thinking and brush up on our scientific method skills?
All of the important questions, of course.
What it all came down to was the fact that my wife is the one doing all the work, so she was the one that chose how it would be implemented. I thought it foolish at the beginning to pay someone for something that we could find free online
Just figure out a lesson, do a little research, print some worksheets, easy, right?
Not if You’re The One Having to do it All
This is a lot of time we are talking about here, especially if you are homeschooling multiple kids at different skill levels. While I fully believe my wife could tackle homeschool from this approach if it was the last possible method available, I can happily say that I’m glad she chose the option to purchase the resources that others spent countless hours creating.
My job during the process? Ask questions and encourage her. Something like this:
- “I know you will find the right curriculum, and I appreciate how much time you are putting into finding the best resources for our hobbits.”
- “How do you like My Father’s World?”
- “One of the guys at work homeschools his kids and says they use Abekah. Don’t we use a few of their books?
- “Tell me truthfully, did you pick Heart of Dakota because it sounds like one of the Christian romance novels you like to read?”
- “You’ve been home all week with the kids. I would be more than happy to spend time with them while you spend time with some friends this weekend.”
Not that I was anywhere near a professional at this in the beginning, but I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. In the end, though, how your family homeschools isn’t up to your family, even though everyone can contribute in defining possibilities. How you homeschool rests firmly on the shoulders of the one that will be doing the actual teaching. If they don’t like it, no matter how great everyone else thinks it is, it will not be enjoyable for them, and will affect the entire homeschool process. I believe one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from being a homeschool dad is what I can do if I really want to help during the homeschool day.
I believe one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from being a homeschool dad is what I can do if I really want to help during the homeschool day. For instance, I used to work night shift, and it wasn’t unusual for me to be up for the first hour or so of school. I wanted to help, and tried to insert myself into the everyday activities with enthusiasm and guidance that I thought would be appreciated by my wife.
I found myself frustrated throughout the entire process, and my frustration was obviously effecting everyone else. Why? Because I didn’t take the time, nor did I have the time, to learn all of the things that she was teaching them. I could answer some of their questions, remind some of them of where they were supposed to be and what they were supposed to be doing, but I was mostly winging it. It’s probably comparable to how a public school teacher’s husband would feel if he showed up during his wife’s class and tried to help out without taking the time to prepare with her. That, and I was tired and not ready to deal with anything. I can see a little more patience on me now that I’m off of night shift, but I still don’t have the time to learn the curriculum. That is, until the curriculum we began to use was almost impossible not to learn after hearing it a few times.
This curriculum not only answered the question of what to teach, but also brought with it a community of like-minded parents and kids that have an amazing time growing and learning together. It’s called Classical Conversations, and its use of memorization through song has made me more effective in my ability to help because I’ve actually learned what they are learning in the very process of them learning it.
Again, let me explain.
I’ve spent my life memorizing almost every single song that has come my way. Most people have, and it’s not just the songs they love. Let a song play a few times, good or bad, and it becomes forever stuck in my mind. My kids think it’s amazing that I can through station after station on the car radio, and I’m always, to their dismay, able to sing along to the song that’s playing. If it’s new, then I know that a few more times hearing it will make it so I do. This is the basis of Classical Conversations Foundations program for kids ages 4-12.
It introduces the basics of a multitude of facts through music and repetition so when it’s time to go deeper in knowledge of a certain subject in the Essentials or Challenge Program, they have the foundational information to springboard off of. Not only that, but 5 to 12-year-olds constantly singing their way through all the American Presidents, the 8 parts of speech, the Constitution Preamble, and anything else you can think of, has a way of quickly being sung by their younger siblings as they color and play their way through the day. They come into the Foundations Program ready and willing because they are prepared, and I’m not lost as to what’s been going on throughout the day because they are singing their lessons when I come home.
Ok, this is sounding like a commercial for Classical Conversations. I’m not here to say that the way we do homeschooling is any better than the way you do homeschooling. I’m just trying to be, as my wife says, “Not perfect… but helpful,” in saying that I hope you love your lessons and schedule as much as we love ours. Loving what you do is so important, AND TOTALLY EXPECTED when you homeschool. This is your class. You don’t have to just drudge by with someone else’s educational methods. Find one the whole family can enjoy. I know that my wife loves what she does, and that is what I seek to encourage when she invites me into the world that I miss everyday while I’m at work. That’s my job 🙂
Finally, I feel I must reach out to all the homeschool dad’s that wear the teacher’s hat. I personally know only one man out of a hundred women in my area that stays home to teach his children and works a part-time job while his wife works a full-time position. The thing that seems the most prevalent of an issue is overcoming the sense of exclusion as a man in what many have deemed a woman’s world. Maybe you’ve found yourself in a weird predicament at the local zoo on a homeschool outing? Maybe the women their are venting about their husbands till they realize that his best friend is there with them? I’d love to hear from any homeschool dads in the comments below to see what it’s actually like to be the one staying home.
Till next time…