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Dads in Homeschooling: Taking an Active Role

By Pete Storz

Homeschooling is most effective when it is a partnership between Mom and Dad. Their partnership should encompass the decision to homeschool, how the family goes about it, what curricular materials to use, and all the day to day work of homeschooling (and their family in general, for that matter.)

At the outset of family life, every Dad needs to throw out the idea (if he ever believed it) that he "works" while his wife "just" stays home with the kids. It is a very big mistake to define "work" as being only what earns an income. Stay at home Moms often work more and harder than do Dads who earn a paycheck. And that paycheck, however large, is small compared to the benefit to the family of what a stay at home Mom accomplishes in the lives of each of her children. So the idea some men seem to have, that Dad can be "off duty" (while Mom remains "on duty") when he comes home from his job needs to be consigned to the dumpster. Dad needs to be an active participant in his family and household. Understanding this is even more critical for a homeschooling family. If Dad tries to remain uninvolved in his family's homeschool, he undermines it. His lack of support communicates to his children - unintentionally - the idea that since it isn't important enough for him to support it, homeschooling isn't very important.

In saying this, I'm not ignoring the fact that most homeschooling Dad's are away from home for 9-12 hours a day every week day. My point is that while a homeschooling Dad will have a different role in the family's homeschool than will his wife, he should not have no role. A homeschooling Dad's role will be largely defined by time - he is only home during evenings and weekends - and the day to day things Dad does will be fitted around this fact.

So, what can a Dad do in evenings and weekends as part of, or in support of, the family's homeschooling? Plenty, if Dad can bring himself to pass up all those forgettable TV time-burners known as game shows and sitcoms! He could teach Literature and Bible "classes" through reading books aloud and telling stories at bedtime . Dad might teach a subject that he understands better than does Mom. He could help with the reading and correcting of schoolwork (this will also help him know how his children are progressing). Dad should help by taking on - gasp! - some of the household tasks (e.g. dishes, laundry, cooking, cleaning), which will free Mom to focus on school and relieve her from the pressure of feeling obliged to do all the household things on top of the family's homeschooling. Dad might handle some of the special events and activities - e.g. trips, concerts, museums, scouts, clubs, sports leagues - that supplement the learning accomplished in the home. He should regularly - scary thought! - send Mom on a weekend retreat or to a relaxing motel for a day or two by herself (and learn some of what she does every day!)

Most of this article has talked about "practical", "doing", kinds of stuff. There are two other things that are of even greater importance. Dad needs constantly to be encouraging his wife. There will be many days when Mom will be tired and discouraged - the kids were fighting all day, or one of them doesn't want to do school work, or some concept just isn't being grasped (I'll bet the reader could add half a dozen more such problems). Along with (possibly before) working on solving the immediate problem, Dad needs to reassure Mom that her kids don't hate her and she isn't ruining them for life. Usually, this encouragement is more crucial than working out the solution to the immediate problem. For Dad, this can be difficult to remember.

Just as God (Jesus) is the foundation of our Christian faith, He should also be the foundation of Mom and Dad's partnership - in the family and in its homeschool. Educating their children in the Lord - the high level goals and the day to day doings - needs to be a regular, daily if possible, matter for prayer and discussion between Mom and Dad.

And yes, I have been preaching to myself, too.

Copyright © 2002, Peter Storz and HomeschoolChristian.com

About the author: Pete Storz grew up in Woodland, CA, near Sacramento. His family attended a Lutheran church, and for grades 1 through 3, Pete attended the private school run by that church, and public schools thereafter. Pete attended a college in Phoenix, AZ, graduating with an Associate's degree. While in Phoenix, Pete worked in a Christian bookstore and tape library, was involved in a ministry that reached out to Jehovah's Witnesses, and ran sound for several local contemporary Christian music bands. Pete moved to "Silicon Valley" to work in electronics and be closer to his parents. He met Becky in 1978 at a church, and they were married in 1980. They have three children, Suzy, Chris, and Katie. Becky first heard of homeschooling on a Focus on the Family program, and about a video seminar by Dr. Raymond Moore that was to be hosted at a nearby church by his daughter. After attending this and a seminar by Gregg Harris, Pete and Becky were encouraged to believe that they could homeschool their children. Remembering that first year or two, when support was crucial but hard to find, Pete and Becky started a support group in 1992 with a special emphasis on fellowship, person-to-person support, and helping new homeschoolers get started. Though Pete and Becky stepped down from leadership after 4 years, SELAH Christian Schools continues to assist homeschoolers in the San Jose, California area. Pete and Becky continue to publish a resource directory for San Jose area homeschoolers as well as other support activities.

HomeschoolChristian.com Resources Related to This Article

Homeschooling Support Section
Dads in Homeschooling: Reading Aloud