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When Dads Teach - Confessions of a Homeschooling Father - John Clark

When Dads Teach – Confessions of a Homeschooling Father


Becoming a full time homeschooling father this year taught John Clark that they don’t get near enough thanks, or even, recognition. He wants to change that.

During this past academic year, for a host of financial, medical, and work-related reasons, I have become the primary homeschooling parent in the Clark house.

From this perspective as a homeschooling Dad, I thought that looking back on what I have learned over this past year might benefit you readers, especially fathers.

People don’t believe you.

I’m still working full-time, but as a writer, which is something that I can mostly do at home. I have found that if I organize things moderately well, I can homeschool simultaneously.

But here’s the funny thing: when homeschooling fathers tell people that they homeschool, they are often disbelieved. Or they conclude that we homeschooling fathers must be unemployed or unemployable. Or that, while we claim to be homeschooling, we are actually sitting at home watching Quincy reruns on Netflix.

I wonder how many homeschooling fathers just stop telling people that they are the primary educators in the family.

The Catholic homeschooling community doesn’t give enough thanks, or even recognition, to these fathers. We need to change that.

Every homeschool family has a system; whether Mom or Dad primarily runs the show, the right system is the one that works.

It has been the most rewarding year of my life.

As I write this, I am sitting at my breakfast table with Bonaventure (10) who is doing his handwriting. Tarcisius (16) is finishing his lunch before he reads Tom Sawyer.

But he has to move something before he sits down to begin his work—it is an acceptance letter to Christendom College that arrived for his older brother today. I want to get it framed for him because it represents the promise of a wonderful future; it also represents the fulfillment of a wonderful past.

Some fathers and sons work on crafts together such as building model airplanes. For the past few months, Demetrius and I have worked together to get him ready for the ACT Exam, and partially because of his success on that test, his soul can take flight at a great Catholic college.

Enjoy these moments. Celebrate these victories. Embrace these triumphs. It is a wonderful thing to see your children experience success, made even sweeter when you know that you helped.

Teach God’s love every day.

We live in an age in which some children are often praised for everything. That’s not fair; nor is it honest. Yet, errors are frequently answered with their opposites, and this is no exception. We now have parenting “experts” who suggest not praising your children.

One example of this thinking occurs in a 2009 book called NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children.

Chapter One is titled: “The Inverse Power of Praise.”

It begins with these words: “Sure, he’s special. But new research suggests if you tell him that, you’ll ruin him. It’s a neuro-biological fact.”

That is nonsense.

Every single day, I attempt to teach my children in various ways that God loves them. The brilliant Franciscan theologian, Blessed John Duns Scotus, began his theology with this awesome fact; we begin our day with it.

This fact permeates and influences every lesson, every day.

Every day, I try to find a new and more powerful way to illustrate God’s love for them. We fathers need to teach our children that they are special because there has never been a time when they were not loved by God. Moreover, those in the state of sanctifying grace have a friendship with God.

If friendship with God doesn’t make you special, would someone care to tell me what does?

Never give up.

Churchill may not have said it first, but he certainly said it best: “Never give up.” “Never give in.”

One of the most popular talks on the homeschooling circuit is “Avoiding Burnout.” After a year, I can see why.

The biggest problem is not that your son is tired of learning math; the biggest problem is that you are tired of teaching Math.

You have to find those things that motivate you. Maybe it’s a scriptural passage, maybe it’s a scene from Rocky IV, maybe it’s a motivation speech by Churchill.

For me, I like to start my day with ten minutes of motivational speeches before I even get out of bed in the morning. I’m guessing that this is different for everybody.

Whatever it is, find that thing. And never give up.

Header photo CC pressmaster | adobestock.com

About John Clark

John Clark is a homeschooling father, a speechwriter, an online course developer for Seton Home Study School, and a weekly blogger for The National Catholic Register. His latest book is “How to be a Superman Dad in a Kryptonite World, Even When You Can’t Afford a Decent Cape.”
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