The Strength of Homeschooling Dads ~ The Power of Saying No

You can read part one here and part two here.

 

 


The last thing I want to share with you in this short series is probably the most profound thing I've learned in our homeschooling efforts in the past year and it dovetails nicely into my previous two points. After getting the big picture and then getting a close-up of the action, I think there are many dads out there who need to learn how to say no on behalf of their families and their wives. Rather than figure out how much we can fill into our schedules, it might be wise for us to determine what we need to say no to and eliminate from our schedules.

Recently my wife asked me to go away for a weekend of homeschool planning. The truth is, she wanted to go away with me for the weekend while she accomplished a bunch of planning and at most probably bounced a few ideas off of me (I don't want to take any more credit for our school plan than I deserve). Anyhow, she painted a nice picture of a weekend away without kids (score!), great food (double score!) and nearly free accommodations (triple score!). For the first time in a lot of years, I quickly responded with a negative response and told her that we should not go away together.

What? My wife asks to get away for a night alone. This already busy homeschool mom asks for a weekend planning retreat with me and I quickly respond with no. What's going on here? Am I crazy? Was I just being stingy or mean? Not at all. I was actually thinking of her the whole time. I knew her schedule, I knew how her week was going, and even more I knew how our kids had been behaving all week. The benefit of going away that weekend was not really worth the cost of dealing with kids and behavior issues created by having their parents gone again.

 

I love it when Fletch says, "No, you're not making dinner tonight!"

 

What do you need to say no to in your family? A really great curriculum? A sports team? A youth event at church? A new purchase? Sometimes you need to say no.

Like I said, this brief series came from recalling several interactions with homeschool families that communicate how they have it all figured out, as well as with others who are just going through the motions scholastically and practically. I think I've spent time in both places and I think looking at the big picture, really getting to know what's happening with my wife/kids, and learning to intervene and say no are all habits I need to continue to work on. I hope my words encourage you to do the same.

Fletch

The Strength of Homeschooling Dads ~ At Ground Level

 Part One of this series can be found here.

 

 

I've spent a good number of years in discussions with other homeschooling dads. One thing I've learned is that there is a big difference between homeschooling in theory and homeschooling in actuality. A lot of these dads can preach homeschool theory all day long. They know why they have chosen homeschooling and they can argue into the ground about why their method is the best. Theoretically, they already know how they are going to educate their kids and they know which curriculum will work best in their family. I've noticed a regular trend though; these guys may think they are in charge of the theory, but the truth of the matter is the day-to-day grind of schooling is practically being carried out by their wives.

Listening to these guys brag about their schooling philosophy reminds me of the well decorated generals you see in those war movies. They hover around large maps analyzing how they will implement their battle plans. In theory, it always looks good, but do you know what's wrong with this picture? The war room they are in is not the front line, it is not the fox hole, and it is not the M.A.S.H unit. There are no soldiers or explosions in the war room - except in theory.

What am I getting at here? Once again, I think homeschool dads need to become engaged and learn what is really happening in our classrooms and around our tables. Homeschool dads need to get beyond the theory and see how things are really playing out. We need to homeschool at ground level before the school year begins, during the school year, and after the school year. Rather than just provide the budget and the strategy, we need to get down on the ground and see what's really happening. Where it's working we should be celebrating these accomplishments with our families and where it's failing we should be on the ground helping to figure it out.


Part three coming tomorrow.

The Strength of Homeschooling Dads ~ The Big Picture

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