Father's Day is coming up--you got the greeting cards, right?--and this got me thinking about my role as a father in relation to homeschooling. It didn't start out so well.
When my wife first suggested that we homeschool our children, I was reluctant to pursue the option. Among other things, I had (unfounded) concerns about a common objection to home education--"What about socialization?" But as we began the process and stuck with it, I realized the immense value of home education. I've also realized the importance of being a supportive homeschool father.
So what are some key traits of a supportive homeschool dad? Here are five:
1. Don't expect your wife to do it all. Like anyone, homeschool moms have limited amounts of time, energy, and ability. Offer to help where you can. You don't have to know everything about the curriculum you are using to help, either. You can offer to read a book to the kids, do some tasks around the house that your wife usually handles, or take the kids out and let your wife have some quiet time.
2. Spend meaningful time with your children. I know, you've worked hard all day and you come home and just want to rest--have dinner, plop yourself on the couch and watch a movie, or play with that latest tablet app that everyone is obsessed about. But don't neglect to spend time with your children. They need you and you need them. Even if you're tired, take time to meaningfully interact with your kids. Do something with them. Play outside, grab a board game, or do something that they have an interest in. This will also give your wife a break.
3. Enjoy the little things. Ok, I took this one from the movie Zombieland, but it applies to the homeschooling dad, too. Take your wife out for coffee, go with her on a shopping trip, or get her that book on her wish list that she's wanted for a while. There are lots of little things you can do that will offer encouragement and support.
4. Take time to listen. Learning to listen well is difficult, especially for men who are more interested in determining what the "problem" is so they can fix it. Turn your phone off (or other distracting devices) and genuinely take the time to really listen. If your wife has had a rough day, home with the kids for hours and hours, she might just want you to listen to her attentively without interruption.
5. Avoid always trying to "fix" things. I don't mean this in reference to fixing a broken screen door or that leaky faucet (by all means, go fix them), but in relation to problems or challenges that come up in the ordinary course of home education. Sometimes difficulties that arise don't have a quick or easy fix. As fathers we can't just squirt some WD-40 on our kids and be done with it. But we can listen, interact with our spouse, and try to work things out together.
Are there times when I don't do these things? Unfortunately, yes, but it helps to keep them in mind.
What are some things your husband does that encourage you in relation to homeschooling?