Last week we ran a post that featured 5 tips for homeschooling dads, all of which came from dads themselves. Well, we posed the same question to a group of homeschooling moms who we trust and admire and not surprisingly, these moms had some really great thoughts on the subject.
Here is what they said, in no particular order:
The most important thing a homeschooling dad can do is support his wife in her work. Support looks different in different families. A dad can help by teaching a class or a child. He can correct papers. He can provide accountability for reluctant teens. Those are great ways to support homeschooling. But he can also come home and pitch-in with clean up, not minding the fact that everything is not already in place. He can talk with pride about what his wife and children are doing, to them and to others. He can pray with his wife and his children for intellectual and moral development for every member of the family, and rejoice that his wife cares enough for their children to give herself to this great and demanding task.
He can make sure that he and his wife go out together to have fun and to talk about the children and their academic successes and failures. He can remind his wife, when she feels down and wonders if she is doing enough, of the great good she is accomplishing. He can deliberate with his wife about what is best for each child, academically and morally. He can participate in planning for an upcoming school year, or he can admire the completed plan and say how glad he is that the children have such a great opportunity.
[These] are all expressions of his belief that this work is noble, worthy of every ounce of effort given to it, and that it has eternal significance.
From Sarah Mackenzie, author of Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace
Perhaps the best thing my husband does for me as a homeschooling mom is help me shake off the hard days. During the moments when I want to throw in the towel and quit, when I’m convinced that I’m ruining my children for good, when I’m stymied by a niggling anxiety that I am not enough to meet their needs and prepare them adequately — those are the days when my husband wraps me in a hug and tells me I’m amazing. He points out the wonderful qualities in each of our children that I’ve failed to notice (I’ve been so concerned with reforming their weaknesses to see them). He makes a joke to help me put that rough day in perspective. No one’s opinion matters more to me than his. A big smile and a “you’re doing such a good job” goes a crazy long way when it comes from his lips.
From Karen Glass, author of Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition
Homeschooling is a long process. As homeschooling moms, we look way down the road to where we have to go. These kids need to be ready for college. When they can’t remember to begin sentences with capital letters, misspell the same words over and over, and forget half the multiplication table between a Friday and the next Monday, it’s easy to get discouraged and fearful that we aren’t doing a good enough job. Help us to the see the little milestones along the way that remind us we are making progress toward the terrifying, but still far-off goal. Notice when our son uses new vocabulary. Notice when our daughter can identify a constellation. And then please, remind us that we are doing a fine job and the children are learning. And if it really is one of those dry spells when no one seems to be moving forward, remind us that we’re laying a spiritual foundation that’s more important than college-prep, and help us keep our eyes on the real ultimate goal of parents, whether they homeschool or not—to raise children who love and serve the Lord. And if you can listen cheerfully while we discuss the merits of various writing or math programs, that’s great too.
From Renee Mathis, CiRCE Apprenticeship Head Mentor for the South-Central region, instructor in the CiRCE Academy
Allow me to offer the secret to homeschooling success in one word: Coffee. Take your wife out for coffee. Pray for your day together over the morning coffee. Take your kids out for donuts (and you can have coffee.) Find another homeschooling dad and go grab some coffee. Ask your pastor if he’d let you buy him a cup of coffee. Remind your wife to take some time for some coffee. Alone. Yes, there’s a pattern here. Life goes on and homeschooling becomes a part of it. But you are still a family and you still have relationships that need tending and you are still charged with applying grace to a messy bunch of humans. One day the last child will leave home and it will be much too quiet. Then you will still enjoy that morning cup of coffee together and you will still be praying for those children of yours, however far-flung they may be.
From Angelina Stanford, speaker, blogger, and instructor for the Harvey Center for Family Learning
Pst, hey you, homeschool dad, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Your wife is terrified. No, not unsure or nervous. TERRIFIED! The kind of terror that grabs you by the throat in the middle of the night and chokes the breath right out of you. That kind of terror. I don’t care how educated, how competent, how confident she is in both her pedagogy and her curriculum choices, she is terrified that she is going to ruin—that she IS ruining—the precious souls that have been entrusted to her.
So, here’s where you come in. She needs you to encourage her. “You can do this. I am proud of you. The kids are lucky to have such a great teacher.” She needs every word and phrase of praise you can think of. Now, I’m not suggesting that you lob empty flattery at your wife. No one likes that. Okay, maybe we like that sometimes. But I am suggesting that what your wife needs even more than flattery is for you to notice. When little Johnny reads his first sentence, notice. When Susie masters those times tables, notice. Notice and praise and encourage. A well-placed “job well done” will go a long way to comforting that seething cauldron of self-doubt that is always threatening to boil over.
Homeschooling is hard. It is likely that hardest thing your wife will ever do. Your encouragement and praise will make that job much easier.
From Jennifer Courtney, Director of Communications and Training for Classical Conversations
Early in our homeschooling journey, I mentioned a struggle that a child was having. My husband, who had always deferred to my curriculum selections, said, “Well, I would have thought they would be learning about _____ this year.” That led to us marking the calendar each year for August. My parents keep the kids, and we have a planning retreat. My husband works with me to set goals for the children in three areas: Spiritual (let’s face it, as homeschooling parents, we definitely know where they are struggling), responsibility (each year, our children need to learn a new set of age-appropriate chores around the house), and academic (each year, my hubby shares several things that he thinks the children should master. This is not-necessarily dependent on our curriculum choices).
After each of these sessions, we meet together with the children and discuss our goals with them, adding anything they think they need to work on or are interested in trying. In addition to this annual session, my husband leads our dinner discussions about his work, the news, the church sermon, a movie we have seen, etc. These discussions are so important to the development of our children’s character and intellect.