SummaryHomeschooling should be a family adventure. Jennifer Elia explores how dads can be an integral part to make it work even if they aren’t the primary teacher.
Homeschooling is a full time job and can be overwhelming at times. Moms need support, not just advice.
Here are five ways homeschool dads can support their home educating wives and help prevent burnout.
1. Help with school year planning and curriculum choices
There is so much out there and so many choices to make. Involving both parents in the decision making takes the burden off of the mom and also makes homeschooling a true family adventure.
You know how it goes—the homeschooling catalogs start rolling in, or you are blessed to find yourself at an amazing convention.
The possibilities seem endless, and soon you have felt compelled to add enough subjects to your school plans that your next year’s schedule consists of 20-hour days, six days a week.
One of the beauties of homeschooling is the ability to customize and explore subjects not normally taught in traditional school.
However, it can quickly turn into a rabbit hole without extra support and guidance.
Dads can lend that needed aid by helping an overwhelmed teacher-mom evaluate her options and choose what is best for the family.
By being open to discussing the coming year, and creating lists of pros and cons, dads help alleviate the pressure of making the tough decisions and ensure that the homeschooling experience is a family way of life, not just another chore for Mom.
2. Act as a tutor when a child is struggling
Sometimes children just need a different approach or a fresh set of eyes and ears to help them through a rough patch. When Mom and the child have met a roadblock, Dad stepping in to tutor for a little while, whenever his schedule allows, can give everyone a fresh start and ease the frustration.
Just like every student has his own style of learning, every parent has his or her own style of teaching. Sometimes these mesh perfectly; however, there are times when a particular subject or concept leaves both the teacher and the student frustrated because the lesson just isn’t working.
This is where Dad can step in. Obviously, many dads work long hours and are not available during normal homeschool hours, although Dad teaching one or more subjects works beautifully if a family can swing it.
Whatever Dad’s schedule, he can step in as a tutor when the need arises. In our own family, there have been several times that I have tried to teach a specific mathematical concept in every way that I could imagine, yet my child still couldn’t grasp it.
That is when my husband set up a tutoring session in the evening or on a Saturday morning to start over and explain the concept in a way that only he could.
Pretty much every time, the light bulb finally went off, and I was able to continue with our normal lessons on the next school day.
Sometimes the stress of trying to get a lesson across, coupled with a child’s exasperation of not being able to understand what is being explained, combine to create an impossible situation.
Having a dad that is fresh to the lesson can be a lifesaver for both mom and child.
3. Be a cheerleader AND a sounding board.
As a homeschooling mom, there is not a built in support system as with a public or private school teacher.
Moms need encouragement, someone to assure them that things with be all right, and remind them how they are succeeding even when it feels like nothing is working.
At the same time, sometimes, moms need someone to just listen and let them get their frustrations and fears out in the open.
In both cases, a husband can lend a helping hand to get Mom back to where she needs to be to keep going.
It can be lonely to be a homeschool mom. Often days are filled with lessons, household chores, and many littles to chase around the house. Without regular adult interaction, Mom can feel isolated or overwhelmed.
She needs someone who is ready to lend a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, if need be. Who better than her help mate? While Dad may not know what it is like to do Mom’s job, he has a vested interest in all that she does.
Encouraging Mom when she is feeling down or inadequate, and reassuring her that yes, Johnny will learn to read even though the phonics lesson failed today or that Mary will most definitely succeed at as a productive adult even though she is five lessons behind in science, can mean the difference between an inspired homeschooling mom, and one who is burnt out and ready to quit.
So Dad, put on your best listening ears, it may be the most important thing you do all year for your homeschool.
4. Give Mom time for homeschool conferences and meetings.
As I stated above, sometimes homeschooling feels like you are an island in a vast and endless ocean.
Attending a homeschool conference or other learning opportunities not only helps Mom grow as a teacher, but bolsters her confidence, and gives her an opportunity to realize she is not alone.
This isn’t something that happens every year in our home.
However, when the opportunity arises, and it fits into our family schedule and finances, it is a great blessing to spend a day or more with other homeschooling parents or families who all have the same purpose—to provide the best education and childhood possible for their children.
5. Be willing to pitch in wherever help is needed.
Days with young children can take many twists and turns. Even the best planned day can sometimes go awry and there are always surprises when on the homeschool journey.
Dads who are willing to jump in as a pinch hitter when Mom is overrun by household chaos are gems. Help Johnny finish handwriting, make a quick dinner, give baby Mary a bath, or switch the forgotten laundry to the dryer.
The littlest acts can mean the world to a frazzled and tired homeschool mom.
Doing anything to lighten Mom’s load on a rough day will give her the extra boost to make it through and show how much you care.
Perhaps the best advice for homeschool dads is to be willing to ask, “What can I do to help?” and follow through on whatever Mom’s request is.
For in the end, you are building your domestic church, and it is in serving each other that you lead the family that much closer to Heaven.