What does it look like being a homeschool father? I can only speak from my personal perspective. Our family has been homeschooling for over 20 years. We homeschooled our son who is now 24 and continue to homeschool our 4 and 8 year old daughters. Our son and his wife also homeschool our grandson so the tradition continues.
I should begin at the start of all of this when Dagney and I were much younger and embarking on our first journey as parents. We were making decisions regarding schooling 24 years ago when we had our son. When he was only a few years old, we moved to Montclair, NJ. It was partly because of the school system. They had a magnet school system, which at the time we were very excited about. We anticipated that he would receive the best education available. When we went to take a tour of the school that Robert was to be attending, we saw a lot of troubling things with the way the school was run that made us very apprehensive about sending him there. I am a bit foggy on my exact verbiage, but I remember saying something to the effect that Robert had been receiving more education at home to that point and maybe we should keep him home just one more year. Dagney subsequently spoke with her Aunt Jann about the situation and she mentioned that "we might as well keep homeschooling him" and added that she had homeschooled one of her children. Homeschool? What was that? We hadn't heard of it before. But, down the road we went... We looked into the idea and decided to go for it. I was a bit apprehensive about the idea at first not quite knowing what it was all about and did people really do this??? My first exposure to just how many people were actually doing this at the time was when we started looking into various arts co-op programs in the area. We went and checked a couple of them out and much to my surprise, what we saw was hundreds of people at each of these that were all homeschooling in our area. And... They were normal. They were not the odd, reclusive sort of people that I had imagined in my mind that they might be. In fact, the parents, the children, the teachers were all very outgoing, kind, friendly, smart and respectful people. I suddenly felt very awesome about our decision to go on this adventure. Fast forward about 20 years and here we are still at it with our girls.
But, I digressed a bit from the original topic... "What does it look like being a homeschool father?" Well, that has changed in some ways over the years, while at the same time having some very important constants. Sometimes, being a homeschool father meant going along on local homeschool field trips at historical sites, farms, theaters, etc. Sometimes it was hopping in the car and taking a much longer trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts because Robert was learning about the pilgrim settlement there. Or, to Williamsburg, Virginia to spend time there as well as Jamestown and Yorktown when Robert was studying the American Revolution. It sometimes meant going along to the arts co-op that he attended for music, art, gym, etc. Or, of course one of their musical performances, art presentations or any of the many events they put on throughout the year. At one point, I was even asked if I would teach the percussion class at the fine arts school, as they had a need for another instructor and I had vast experience with percussion instruments. Sometimes it is simply unloading the dishwasher as my wife finishes up lessons or grilling up some burgers for dinner. Over the years, depending on where we have been in life, the varying needs with schooling, etc, my role has changed from time to time. I have helped out a lot with math, with this being my strong subject and helped with quite a few science projects... However, there has always been one constant. As God has defined the roles within families, I know it is my role to lead in all things. In Genesis 18:19 it says "I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord..." Proverbs 22:6 says "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Have I always done all of this perfectly? No, certainly not. But, it is my role and I try my best to fulfill the very important role that God has given me. There are a few basic rules to live by when not only thinking about a father's role in homeschooling, but, in family life in general. 1) The way God defined it, the division of labor in a home and with a family is natural. However, men were called to lead. 2) The mother and father should of course both be involved in the vision of what homeschooling their children looks like, but the father should lead and have an active role. Think about it as you would a public school. The head or principal of the school would ultimately decide on matters of vision, direction, strategy, etc. These are very natural God given roles for a homeschooling father. In our family, my wife chooses the curriculum for our children. She is very in tune with their learning style and what fits best with her style of teaching. We discuss it and decide if it fits our family in terms of our faith, principals, vision and of course...financially. We then work together to make it a great experience for our family. Fathers and mothers both play extremely important roles in the homeschool setting. 3) The main and most important role for a Christian homeschool father (or any father for that matter) is discipleship. The Bible doesn’t say a lot about the classroom, but it says a lot about raising your children to know and serve God.
In the end, leading in a child’s homeschool education for most fathers means re-capturing forty plus hours a week that they’d spend away from the home while at work and any of those hours may be a crucial moment for their spiritual and character growth. We need to always remember that, no matter who is teaching math or history at the moment. So, at the end of the day, when you do arrive home, please remember to take the time that your family deserves and needs to love them, nurture them and teach them in the ways you have been put in your role to do... The other distractions in life that you may be tempted to do instead, just aren't anywhere near as important and those distractions aren't looking to you to do this the way your precious family does.
The Sabbath is a very special time for us. I say "time" and not "day" because we recognize the Seventh Day Sabbath as beginning at sundown on Friday til sundown on Saturday (the seventh day). This is the Biblical Sabbath. Genesis 2:1-3 says:
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
If we break this down and start where it says "God blessed the seventh day," we will recognize that God blessed us with the gift of the Sabbath. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Unfortunately, some people look at the Sabbath as being a legalistic burden, not realizing that it was meant to be a gift of rest, a time with family and being refreshed (Exodus 31:17 "on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed"). For us as a family, we realized this several months ago and we have enjoyed the blessing of the Sabbath immensely. One day, our son Robert came to us and asked why we went to church on Sunday and didn't observe Saturday as the Sabbath. Well, for us, this was a clean cut and simple answer... We explained that this was the Lord's day and therefore, it was the day we went to church. But, being that we are Bereans in nature and we study everything to be sure we have things right as God presented them to us in His word, we studied it to find the truth. In the New Testament, the seventh day of the week is called the Sabbath. The Sabbath is mentioned 58 times. The first day of the week is mentioned only 8 times. It is simply called "the first day of the week," and it is always differentiated from the Sabbath. This in itself is evidence for the continued validity of the seventh-day Sabbath. So, why do so many people go to Church on Sunday??? Well, that is somewhat of a two part answer. I say somewhat, because these are the two main issues that led to the modern "tradition" of Sunday worship. However, there is more to the story. The first part of the equation is, approximately 100 years before Christianity, Egyptian Mithraists introduced the "Festival of Sunday" and the worshiping of the sun, to the Roman Empire. Later, as Christianity grew, church leaders wanted to increase the numbers of the church. In order to make the gospel more attractive to non-Christians, pagan customs were incorporated into the church’s ceremonies. The custom of Sunday worship was welcomed by Christians who wanted to differentiate themselves from the Jews because of their rejection of the Savior. The first day of the week (Sunday) began to be recognized as both a religious and civil holiday. By the end of the second century, Christians considered it sinful to work on Sunday. The Roman emperor Constantine, a former sun-worshiper, professed conversion to Christianity and Constantine named himself Bishop of the Catholic Church and enacted the first civil law regarding Sunday observance in A.D. 321.
Then, we get to the second part of the equation... In the Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine it says:
Q. Which is the Sabbath day?
A. Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea, (AD 336) transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday
Q. By what authority did the Church substitute Sunday for Saturday?
A. The Church substituted Sunday for Saturday by the plenitude of that divine power which Jesus Christ bestowed upon her
The Catholic Church literally took it upon themselves to decide that they had the authority to change God's word... In Exodus 20:10 it says "The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God." That says it all... God established the seventh day as the Sabbath and only He has the authority to change it. People were never given this authority. Joshua 24:15 says "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." People cannot change the Sabbath day because it is undesirable for them to follow God's word. Again, Genesis 2:3 says: Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. Sanctified means set apart and declared as holy. God set the Seventh day apart and declared it holy. We cannot change this.
So, that all brings us to the next part. Why our family in particular has found the Sabbath day to be such a wonderful and special time for us. Once we came to the conclusion that Friday evening through Saturday evening was in fact undeniably the Sabbath and what it meant, we decided to honor it wholeheartedly. What this looked like for us on our very first Sabbath was setting out first thing Friday morning to be prepared for our day of rest. From a practical standpoint, that meant we were sure to take care of any and all straightening that needed to be done around the house during the day. We also prepared our Friday evening dinner, Saturday lunch and Sabbath dinner in advance. All of these meals were prepared in such a way that all we needed to do on Saturday was pop them in the oven, relax and enjoy our day while the food warmed up and then we enjoyed our meals. By the time Friday evening comes, all of the meals are prepared, the house is set, any other "work" is completed and by sundown we simply sit down and enjoy playing games as a family, maybe watching a movie, or whatever we decide as a family would be fun before heading off to sleep. When we wake on Saturday morning, we watch a live stream of a Sabbath worship service (due to COVID) and then we enjoy our meals, and simply enjoy our time together as a family, truly enjoying the blessing that God has given us. By the time the end of the day came on our first Sabbath, our 8 year old daughter approached us and said, "that was the best day ever! Can we do that again next week?" Wow! "best day ever..." and all because we as a family decided to honor the Sabbath as God defines it. It has been an incredible blessing to our family.