Recently a reader asked such a good question, I had to mull it over a little bit and reply with a post. Whenever she goes looking for information, she is thinking of homeschooling her children, it is always all about the moms. The father’s appear to be so far behind the homeschooling scenes as to be completely absent. And before everyone jumps to the defence of their partner, I think it is a very good point. I know our father person doesn’t appear too often on our website… and in fact it looks like all school decisions are made by: me, myself and I. That might have a lot to do with who the author is, I am the blogger and I write about “the life and times of a homeschooling mom of se7en + 1.” Like many bloggers who write about homeschooling, I am a mom and this is my perspective, I write about reading with my kids, creating with my kids, playing with my kids!!!
I know homeschooling families where the dad’s teach math or do science experiments on a Saturday morning, or dad’s that do all the reading for the day at bedtime. Ours homeschooling dad isn’t one of those!!! The practicality of homeschooling families is that one parent is very often working out of the home and the other one is firmly situated at the domestic and educational coal-face. I consider our family to be a typical family, and I sense a rolling of the eyes here, but I do. My husband works his day job and deals with the world at large… and I work at home and ensure that laundry and dinner and school occur on a regular basis. That is how we roll.
But I just need to qualify, and I have said it before, homeschooling is not school at home. Our kids don’t spend a specific number of minutes on specific subjects each day and they don’t have hours of homework to occupy their evenings either. There work doesn’t arrive on pre-packaged pre-prepared worksheets… their education is part of our life. We have a lifestyle of homeschooling… The choices we make regarding our children’s schooling are really just a few of the choices we make about life in general. Together my husband and I have safely chosen when and where we would get married, where we would live and even the sort of house we wold live in. We have managed to make decisions about lots of big and little things over the period of our marriage and together we make decisions about school.
The same reader went on to ask what happens when you make mistakes or don’t agree on something… Let me give you an analogy: when we bought a house I scoured the internet for thousands of potential houses… I drove the streets looking at potential “For Sale” properties… and finally presented my husband with a handful of houses that had potential. We looked at them together and while we both loved the house we live in, he made the final decision and that decision was based on what he thought would be the best possible option for our family.
Similarly, when we chose our homeschool curriculum I spent the year before we dived in visiting friends who homeschooled, until I found the curriculum that seemed like a really good fit for us. I was excited about it and told my husband, he caught the vision and we flew with it. Have I made mistakes – plenty of them… Does he make mistakes, well he does the grocery shopping and dare I say, he has made a few errors of judgement!!! But these are lifestyle questions and we can’t dwell on each other’s mistakes, we have to move on. It isn’t about homeschooling but rather life in general… we get along, we agree about things mostly, we disagree sometimes… we resolve things and we move on.
That being said we do have a purpose for our school… no we haven’t written it down, but if our children are learning, and they seem to at an alarming rate, despite us… then we are happy. If they are serving others and meeting new people from all walks of life and gaining confidence as they take on responsibilities around the home then all the better. With that goal in mind we can all quickly assess if we are on the right track. I have to say he is the “big picture parent” and can look at their education as a part of their whole life and I am a details person… far more concerned with the school we do day to day. Together we seem to keep on track…
If you follow our blog then you will have a pretty good idea about what I do all day, but this seems like the appropriate place to say exactly what the father person does in our school…
Se7en + 1 Ways the Father Person is involved in our Home (School).
- He keeps my reality in check: I am a dreamer, I imagine we have ten times more hours in a day than we really do… I plot and plan twenty things to do before lunch and the reality is we might be able to do one of those. He has a far better idea of what can be done than I do. More than that, he knows when to say enough!!!
- He doesn’t dwell on the “Homeschool Jones’”: He is just not interested in what other families are doing for school. He doesn’t want to know about their fabulous journals or their amazing outings or their extra-murals… he does care what and how his kids are learning and he thinks our projects and adventures are amazing. Yes, another outing to the beach counts for a lot in his book… and we are happy to oblige.
- He doesn’t flinch at mistakes: Spending money on a school product that you think will be fabulous and just isn’t… well that could happen at the grocery store too. Starting a project that is going to be fabulous, which flops or just never gets off the ground – well that happens to everyone – it is part of life and learning. Our kids have to see our mistakes and learn from our failures just as much as they have to learn from their own. “Failure” is a very good learning ground.
- He sets a limit on the budget: He doesn’t give me a credit card and say – get whatever you would like for school – far from it!!! If I do find something that I think will be fun then I check out what he thinks first – pretty much like buying a house. At the start of a school year I present him with a pile of potential materials that I think will work for us. He is pretty good at assessing what we will use and what will sit on a shelf for another year. I value his opinion. Often folks think that our decisions are budget related, and while that might make sense… most of our decisions are lifestyle dependent. We choose the curriculum we use because we like the idea of growing a library year by year, we like the idea that younger children can read and enjoy the same materials that their older siblings enjoyed. Would I like to spend more – well the grass often looks greener… but do we need more school materials, not at all. We can barely get through the material we have!!!
- He provides us with what we need: I can call him and ask him to bring home two carnations and a red cabbage and they will arrive at our house at the same time as he does!!! Miraculous really!!! I can say that a child really needs to read him a story they have written and he will listen away. I will say that a young scientist needs to count clams on the seashore, at dawn in the middle of winter… and he will be there!!!
- He catches the kids’ excitement: I am task orientated, I have to be – I am thinking about the next job to do, where as he gets excited about what they share with him. He is interested in their work and will often direct them to something related – a website, a book, a podcast, fab resources that they will like… but he doesn’t ever do their work for them. I can’t say the same… I am often “what about…” and “have you thought of doing it like this…” “or that.” He very much leaves them to their own devices and lets them explore and learn and discover.
- He is all about life-skills: He has no problem in enabling his kids to cook dinner, or use power tools to repair their bed. If they are confident that they can do it, then he is all for them going ahead. If they need to learn a skill, like how to replace the flusher on the toilet again… then he is all for teaching them. One thing our kids are going to leave home with is the ability to fix and repair things that many folk would have given up on. It is such a confidence builder to have someone say – go ahead. I am far more the “let me show you first” kind of parent and he is the… “go for it” parent… Kids definitely need both kinds of parent.
- He is the moral compass for us all: He doesn’t make excuses about why he can or can’t do something or be somewhere, and he expects the same from us. He doesn’t take the day off to catch up and relax when he should be working and he expects the same from us. He constantly asks folk round, promoting hospitality and serving far beyond what I would ever have thought possible. He encourages his kids to go to meetings with him, is it a sacrifice to get up early on a Saturday morning to go to a prayer meeting – some might say it is, but our kids think it is their privilege to spend time with their dad and to prayer for their missionaries. And more than that, he prays for us and with us and let’s face it that is the kind of help that will make the biggest difference in our lives and our school.
And the Se7en + 1th
So is our father person involved in our homeschool? Not in a pouring over math book, checking handwriting, reading through history books or endless science experiments kind of a way… but he is involved in almost every aspect of our family life and so our homeschool. He is particularly good at encouraging me in the role of “mom and home educator.” Without his support I don’t think I would be the best mother I could be and similarly without my support I don’t think he could be the best dad he could be. So is he an absent homeschool father… only in the sense that I don’t feature him on our blog a lot. In every other way he is present in our homeschool and the leader of our home.