Welcome to “Ask a NextGen Homeschooler…” It’s your turn to ask the writers at NextGen Homeschool — four formerly homeschooled moms who are now homeschooling our children — to weigh in on your homeschooling questions. From the practical to the personal, all questions are welcome — whether you’re a current homeschooler or just homeschooling curious!
This week’s question was inspired by a recent article on Simple Homeschool called “Collaborative Homeschooling for the Whole Family,” which was followed up by another view on this topic in “A Mom & Dad Homeschool Team.”
What role does Dad play in the family’s homeschooling life?
Although the writers at NextGen Homeschool aren’t in the same shoes as the author of the Collaborative Homeschooling post, Hillary Boucher, who is now working full-time while her husband handles the day-to-day homeschool duties (which was a role reversal for them), we appreciated the ideas shared by both posts because they raise great questions — and solutions — about parents working as a team in the homeschooling process. We realized that even though we moms are handling most of the daytime schooling activities in our homes, the roles our husbands do play are very vital to the success of our homeschooling efforts — and we are very grateful for that partnership.
I have posted before about my own dad’s role in our schooling when I was being homeschooled. (See “What Role Can Dads Play in the Homeschool?”) My husband Jason’s role has always been more that of a principal. He makes sure we don’t get too far off track, deals with any real discipline problems, etc.
I guess you could also say Jason is in charge of the business and work experience credits for my two older girls. Both girls worked at our donut shop several days a week since they were 13 or 14 years old. They both have a lot of experience in customer service, mental math, counting change, bank deposits, employee management, and the other aspects it takes to run a successful small business.
For my 7-year-old Joel, his dad teaches the golf portion of his schooling. They go golfing at least twice a week and talk golf nonstop. He also takes Joel to the shop with him sometimes and to go buy inventory, so Joel is getting a head start in business administration as well. Jason also likes Joel to read to him sometimes, and when I need to step away for a few minutes, he helps with math or whatever Joel is struggling with at that time.
I definitely couldn’t homeschool without Jason’s help; physically, emotionally, and financially. I know that I am blessed that I have a spouse that works hard so that I can stay home and teach our children.
What a great question! I am so grateful that we live in a time in history when women can share the upbringing of the children with their spouses in more ways than having husbands solely function as the breadwinners (though thank you very much to the husbands that do so!). My husband Jeremy is a high school history teacher, and when we went from two incomes to one (it’s been six years on and off that way), he has also added carpentry and landscaping side jobs to his workload.
First and foremost, Jeremy shares the weight of homeschooling with me by fully supporting and even encouraging me in this endeavor. I decided before even attempting to homeschool the kids that if he was not 100% on board, it was a no-go. Thankfully, he is fully supportive.
Jeremy says he really appreciates that I’ve taken time to read books on the subject of education (I’ve got at least 10 on my nightstand) and that he is grateful I am teaching his kids. This is huge for me because he’s a teacher and I am a designer by trade. My job used to be to read fashion magazines!
Secondly, Jeremy picks up on a lot of the slack around the house: laundry, dinner dishes, bathing the kids, (many of which inevitably fall behind because of additional time spent on outings), planning lessons on the computer, filing schoolwork that is complete… You get the idea.
Thirdly, Jeremy reads a lot to the kids, and I usually slip in books I need to get covered for the unit we are on into the pile of books he is reading them. He also reads aloud on Monday evenings after dinner (a non-picture book to get the kids using their imagination a little bit more). After dinner or as they are finishing up seems to be a non-threatening way of accomplishing this, as well as providing an enjoyable time hearing the story as well.
Jeremy always attends field trips or special co-op meetings with me. Just having him there reminds me and the kids that we are a team. Lastly, I find I can easily fill my schedule with great “to-do”s for the kids, but talking to my husband about my plans and what our days look like, he always bring me back to what is important in their education right now (things we’ve talked about together in the past) and encourages me to cut out the extras.
Though the planning and day-to-day teaching of the kids is something I take care of, I feel a huge amount of support from my husband. Having the kids’ work ready for them to show him or a book we read for them to narrate to him at dinner keeps him in touch with what we are doing.
Recently my husband brought up that because of our son’s amazing memory (he memorizes picture books word for word, which my husband became aware of because of Elijah’s recitation of them to him), we should focus some time on training him to memorize large portions of scripture. I thought it was a great idea and will be sure to include my husband in deciding what portion we should start with, as well as what incentive we should use.
I feel that part of my responsibility of training my children is to include their dad, so that they know he cares very much about their education, as much as their mommy does.
I was intrigued by the ideas shared in the articles mentioned above because even though my husband works from home and could probably be more involved in the day-to-day aspects of our homeschooling, we hadn’t figured out yet what that should look like. I really appreciate the ideas shared by these other families, and they’ve given us a lot of food for thought. Right now, the question is still on the table for us because my husband Kenny truly does want to be more involved with our homeschooling.
What my husband has provided for us from the start has been 100% support — spiritually, emotionally, and financially. Kenny was homeschooled along with my sisters-in-law Rosanna and Elizabeth by his father, and homeschooling was something we had both talked about doing years before we had children. Although we didn’t start right away when our eldest was school age (for more on that journey, see “My Biggest Homeschooling Blunder: Thinking I’d Be Ready“). My husband’s encouragement played a huge role in helping me get to the place where I was ready.
Once we made that choice and started preparing, he helped me sort through curriculum options and find what we thought would be the best fit for our family. When I started struggling with it midway through our first year, he helped me troubleshoot my problems and find solutions. He also helped me search for new curriculum and lesson planning strategies that would overcome those issues in the new school year. Similar to what Rosanna said, I’d say Kenny is a great “principal” for our homeschool: He sets the standard with me and keeps us all in line (I need it too sometimes).
On a day-to-day basis, I currently do all the teaching. Since Kenny does work from home, he will watch an occasional presentation from the girls, come see a new skill they’ve just mastered, and eat lunch with us most days. He’s also available for those moments when I need a break from the girls to clear my head and want to talk to an adult for a few minutes. He has made a point of trying to attend most elementary presentation days and other important functions in our local homeschool group as well.
One of the biggest contributions Kenny makes to our daily life as a family is cooking dinner — yes, you read that right, my husband is the chef in our family! I am so blessed and grateful for his skills with food and his willingness to share them with us on a daily basis. He is a whiz in the kitchen, and not only does his preparation of dinner save me time and an extra thing to think about all day, but it also provides another opportunity for our girls to learn a skill from him, not just me. I do enjoy baking with my eldest daughter Audrey (who loves to cook and bake) from time to time, but I really enjoy letting my husband work his magic in the kitchen and let the girls learn his secrets in the process.
Things we are currently discussing for future implementation include Kenny teaching a class from time to time, his being more involved in our morning routine, and some more of the fun things we do together, like watch educational DVDs as a family and go on our own field trips besides those provided through our local group. We also want the girls to get a better sense that he’s just as involved in the homeschooling planning and follow-through as I am, even though I’ll still do most of the teaching.
I look forward to reporting back again soon with news about what we implement and how it improves our homeschooling environment, both for our girls and for us.
What role does Dad play in your homeschooling life? We’d love to hear what you think!