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.
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