SummaryDave Steele shares his insights as a homeschool dad of 8 children. After their love for the Catholic faith, the Steeles are passionate fans of the outdoors.
- As a father, what are the reasons you’re most thankful for homeschooling?
- What caused you and Michelle to choose homeschooling in the first place, and then why Seton, in particular?
- In most families, most of the day-to-day homeschooling is managed by the mom. Is that true in your family, and how do you, Dave, as a father, assist and support the homeschooling effort? How do you support Michelle?
- What are the truths and values you most want your children to learn?
- Do you have any advice for other homeschool dads?
An Interview with Dave Steele
For the month of November, we interviewed Dave Steele for some unique insight into a homeschool dad’s point-of-view. Dave is married to Michelle; they have eight lovely children: Corinne (22), Kara (20), Krista (19), Tim (16), Ben (13), Joe (10), Nick (8), and Jake (6).
The Steeles love their Catholic faith, and they are avid fans of the outdoors. They enjoy spreading their joy of faith, family, and homeschooling with frequent gatherings hosted at their home in Minnesota.
As a father, what are the reasons you’re most thankful for homeschooling?
I am grateful that Catholicism is immersed in each subject and in our children’s school day. The kids are able to begin each day with daily Mass. Then, during school, they learn their Catechism, Bible History, the lives of the saints, truths about virtue, et cetera.
I come home to cool stories about the saints that my children read while I was gone, and I get to see book reports where my children wrote about how the main character practiced virtue.
I’m grateful I don’t have to worry my kids are being exposed to inappropriate content. Seton is a solid, Catholic school, for which I was never gladder than when my daughters entered high school.
When I’m at work, I know that my children are safe at home with their mother, and that they’re engaged in authentic learning, not only about the faith, but with regard to their academics.
I’m grateful for the one-on-one attention my children are receiving in their education.
I’m grateful for how much Michelle and I have been strengthened in our own faith since we started homeschooling. Although we both loved our faith and went to Mass every Sunday, we didn’t really know why we were Catholic. It wasn’t until we began homeschooling that we really began to learn about and understand the beauty and truth of the Catholic Church.
At the end of the day, there is so much peace in our house, and I’m convinced homeschooling is a big part of that.
What caused you and Michelle to choose homeschooling in the first place, and then why Seton, in particular?
When our oldest daughter started Kindergarten, we thought she could benefit from one on one teaching, so we decided to homeschool for one year. It went so well that we decided to continue for a few more years, and before we knew it, three years had turned into twelve, and she graduated from Seton.
Since then, we’ve graduated two more kids from Seton, and all of them have really enjoyed being homeschooled.
As far as choosing Seton to begin with, I really liked that Seton is accredited. I know that my children are attending a credentialed school. The complete package Seton provides was also an important factor.
Michelle’s work is easier because all the books and lesson plans come right to the door; she doesn’t have to figure out a curriculum all on her own.
The Seton staff played a role in our choice, as well. They were excellent in answering all of our questions, and have become especially helpful in high school, where the classes are harder and our children have had to call many times.
Additionally, we liked that Seton holds parents accountable as teachers. Following Seton’s guidelines, Michelle always makes sure that our children’s every assignment and test is completed and turned in on time. That has really helped our oldest children.
Recently, my daughter, who is in college now, took an online test for a biology class. Her professor told her that he’d never had a student be as efficient as she is. I’m sure Seton helped her with that.
In most families, most of the day-to-day homeschooling is managed by the mom. Is that true in your family, and how do you, Dave, as a father, assist and support the homeschooling effort? How do you support Michelle?
Michelle is definitely the one who organizes everything, but she makes sure everyone in the house helps. Before bedtime each night, all of the next day’s books and work are set out, breakfast dishes are arranged, and the whole house is clean.
Sometimes, Grandma and Grandpa come and help with teaching, which gives Michelle a little break and the kids a chance to learn from a different teacher.
I’m the principal, and I help keep order. I also take time every day to pray with the kids and also to engage in my own quiet prayer time. I try to take a bigger teaching role when our kids reach high school.
I spend a lot of time with the kids in hunting, trapping, fishing, camping, and four-wheeling, which provides many teaching opportunities for me to show the children different kinds of animals, trees, plants, fish, etc. They don’t even realize they’re learning!
We also plan road trips during the off season so the children can see all the states in the USA, though we’ve joked they’ll have to learn about Hawaii and Alaska on their own!
When it comes to helping Michelle, I make sure she gets time to herself in the evenings. She might go for a walk, do a little shopping, or meet some friends for ice cream. I think it’s important that she have that chance to get out for a little break when she’s been home all day with our eight children.
When our kids reach 7th grade, we put them in sports, which helps both the children and Michelle. Our girls have all been in cross country and all have made it to the Cross Country State Tournament, even winning the meet. This required two to three hours of training a day, and gave them the chance to exercise and learn to interact with others, while providing Michelle with a breather.
In the end, I think our homeschooling goes well because both Michelle and the kids know they have my unwavering support.
What are the truths and values you most want your children to learn?
I want my children to know the truths of the Catholic Faith in their fullness. It’s important to me to teach them to pray.
I want them to know what it means to be a family. I want them to know what it means to be a good person.
I pray they will contribute to society. I pray they will grow in courage like the saints.
Do you have any advice for other homeschool dads?
First of all, stay involved in your kids’ lives. So often, fathers are gone in the evenings, doing their own thing. I like to come home and spend time with my kids. I know I’ll never regret spending ‘too much’ time with my kids, because they grow up really fast.
Three of mine are already grown, but as they’ve become adults, my relationship with them has grown as well. They come to me with their trials and seek my advice. There’s no better father’s reward.
Next, if you are a homeschooling father, do not be afraid to talk to other men about it and to support it openly. Every summer, we host a handful of couples who are interested in homeschooling. I make a point of encouraging the dads to come and I share my homeschooling experience with them. Almost all of these couples choose to homeschool and usually with Seton after meeting us.
Finally, remember that your wife’s day at home isn’t always easy, and be there for her. Take care of her.