“My wife runs our day-to-day homeschool; what should I be doing?” This is a question I hear many times over as I travel to homeschool conferences every spring and summer.
There are homeschools where Dad is the primary educator, but for this article we will be talking about homeschools where Mom is doing the bulk of the homeschooling.
When I first began homeschooling 20 years ago, I had grandiose visions of my husband coming home from work each evening and sitting down with our children (all perfectly tidy in matching outfits, of course) while I prepared a nutritious dinner in my dress, pumps, and pearls, and he would teach them about the great mysteries of life. I envisioned my husband teaching our children French and theology. I envisioned him sitting down with me on weekends to plan the children’s week, reading all the latest homeschool books with me, and chatting casually about Charlotte Mason, the Trivium, and more.
Reality set in pretty fast.
You see, my husband works two jobs so I can stay home full time. He is busy slaying dragons all day while I tend to the castle. There is no time in his schedule for formal French and theology studies with the children. He’s exhausted when he walks through the front door. He looks forward to, no, he deserves, to sit down, have a drink, and watch hockey. Debating various homeschool philosophies with me isn’t going to happen.
Yet, my husband does contribute to our homeschool in a significant way. He didn’t teach a formal theology course but he did pray with our children, he did take them to Holy Adoration on Saturday, and he makes sure we get to Mass on time every Sunday.
He doesn’t help me lay out weekly plans, but he did build bookshelves. And, honestly, the way to my homeschool heart is more bookshelves.
If you’re a dad and you can teach a formal course or two with your children, that is an amazing gift to give your children. I can’t begin to tell you the positive impact you will have. However, if you’re too busy to teach an actual course, don’t beat yourself up. There are other ways to help build up your family’s homeschool.
First, be a support system to your wife. On those days when she’s exasperated, don’t say “Just put them in school.” Instead, listen. Let her talk it out. Help her find solutions. Remind her of all the positive reasons you chose to homeschool. Remind her, she is a gift to you and your children.
Back your wife up on discipline issues. If possible, be available by phone if she needs to have you talk to a child. Remind your children that their mother is to be respected and obeyed.
Let the children work with you on household projects. For example, when you’re working on the car, let your children see what you’re doing and let them help. Yes, it takes longer when they help, but the long-term benefits are worth it.
Read aloud to your children. Just 10 minutes a day. Those 10 minutes will make all the difference in the world. Even the simple act of your children seeing you reading for your own enjoyment makes a difference.
Play sports with your children and go for walks. Not only will you receive the benefit of stronger physical health, you will be creating bonds with your children. Sports teach children leadership skills, teamwork, how to play fair, how to be a good winner or loser, and more.
Ask your children about their day while having dinner. Show an interest in their studies. This helps your wife a great deal as the teacher of your children. It demonstrates to her students that schoolwork is important to dad and should be important to them too.
Get the children out of the house now and then to give your wife alone time. Perhaps take the kids out for an ice cream on Saturday so your wife can plan the school week in peace.
Most importantly, demonstrate what it means to be a godly man. Pray with your children at bedtime and at meals. Talk about God in everyday conversation. Live the Gospel.
And, of course, build all the bookshelves your wife’s heart desires. Let me know in the comments below how Dad is involved in your homeschool.
Copyright 2015 Maureen Wittman