Homeschooling is hard work. We moms need the back-up, encouragement, strength, and pep rally our husbands can provide, but since I'm not a husband I knew I needed to pick the brain of my own husband to throw some encouragement and grace your way. Pass this on to a homeschooling dad you know?
Fletch, dentist and homeschooling dad of 8
Before summer, Kendra asked me to write a guest post on homeschooling from a dad’s perspective. Well, it's taken me nearly all summer to get an idea written down. Truthfully, I was hesitant to give my perspective, because I just don't believe there is much more that can be written about homeschooling. In the blog world, this is such a saturated topic. The typical ways in which a husband can support his wife in the homeschool family have been explored to the point of repetition, and the more I thought about it, I just didn't think I could add much to the discussion.
In addition, most homeschool families I know are fully on board and the dads in these families are 100% behind the idea. It is not like I'm really going to say anything new. But, that's when it hit me. It was this idea - that most homeschool families supposedly have it all figured out. Some of the most prideful educators I've met have been Christian homeschoolers. I get it. It probably stems from a position of having to prove themselves to their critics.
Often though, that self-defense mechanism matures into an attitude of we have our lives together. Bam! That was the inspiration I needed to write this blog post and I realized I do have something to say. To them, to me, to families that are fully committed to homeschooling, to those who have it all sewn up and are maybe just going through the motions, these are a few observations that I thought I could share.
Fletch and daughters
Before I begin, allow me to lay down a real thick layer of self disclosure. Whatever I say in this series could just as easily apply to my own family. In fact, I've applied many of the following thoughts to our own homeschool preparation for the past few school years. The truth is, even though I've operated from a lousy place of pride in the past, I don't have this figured out and I am not the authority on the subject. My wife is the best homeschooling mom in the world. Have you seen her superhero picture yet? But she'll be the first one to tell you that each day is a new adventure where she'll get blindsided by a new challenge, attitude, or struggle in our school. With that said, after 15 years of homeschooling and surrounding ourselves with other homeschooling families, I do think I have a few unique thoughts to communicate.
As we prepare to kick off the new school year, I think it's a good idea for homeschool families (and specifically dads) to take a few steps back and get a good view of the bigger picture. Daily and weekly lesson planning are important for sure. With six kids in school this year, it will be these detailed plans that keep our school on track and my wife sane. Stepping back to see the big picture helps guide the plan and keep everyone on track.
Think of it as the Google Maps approach to homeschooling. When you search for a location, Google Maps zooms in on the street/neighborhood. That's great if you live nearby or you are familiar with the area, but it doesn't do you any good when you are new to the area or trying to find basic directions. The solution is easy. Just hit the "minus" key, and the view backs up and out until you recognize the map. Once you know where you are on the map, you can then zoom in on your destination, but it starts when you look at the whole map.
Fletch the Mango Man
I think this is the same thing with homeschooling. When we get too focused on the details, we can lose the big picture and sometimes forget where we are coming from or going to. How are we going to cover history? Which curriculum should we use? How will we provide our kids a quality education? It can become overwhelming and those details can make you forget why you ever chose to school at home in the first place. Even if you are not prone to getting lost in the details, you can still become numb through your routine. After 15 years, its easy for us to put our schooling on "autopilot". This thought remains: It's wise to back up, and look at the big picture.
Why do dads need to look at the big picture? Because if we're really being honest, we'll acknowledge that most of the wives are actually doing the homeschooling and sweating the daily details.
In our house, Kendra is the one working through the homeschooling schedule. She is the one in the trenches on a daily basis. After a long day at the office, I cruise in every night and on my best nights I give her the attention long enough to just get an overview of the day. As a dad in this situation, I think I have a unique role to play where I can help evaluate what's going on and be a steady reminder/encourager of the big picture. During those times when my wife feels overwhelmed, I can pull her out of the situation and show her the bigger picture.
Part Two Coming Tomorrow