Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Dear Homeschooling Dad: YOU Matter Too


Tara Brelinsky shares seven ways a Dad teaches his children how to know, love, and serve God better than any book, curriculum, or homeschool class ever can.

While accompanying my son to his college orientation, I met the deacon in charge of campus ministry.

We’d chatted for a few minutes when he disclosed that he is the father of six and they homeschool. Naturally, I shared that we’re a big homeschooling family, too.

Then I asked the next logical question, “What curriculum do you use?”

After a few fumbled attempts to construct an answer, he smiled and admitted that he didn’t actually know.

His wife, he explained, was in charge of the schooling.

Is Homeschooling Woman’s Work?

Of course, the deacon is busy providing for his family, so it is reasonable that he leaves his wife to the job of teaching. Comparatively speaking, my own household mirrors this same delegation of duties. And judging by the sea of female faces at homeschool conferences, co-ops, and field trips, it is fair to say that most homeschool education is facilitated by mothers.

No one person possesses all gifts.

For that reason, we need each other in every avenue of life: in the Church, in the workplace, in the family. The same holds for homeschooling.

While mothers tend to be the ones who are responsible for the primary duties of schooling in the home, a father’s role is no less valuable.

Dad’s Role in Homeschooling

While the deacon may not know all the details about the curriculum his children utilize, there are a few details that he would do well to know.

And there are a few areas where his leadership, and yours, is absolutely crucial.

1. Know Your Mission

Companies craft mission statements to articulate their corporate goals. The statements offer employees a clear picture of why they do what they do. For the same reason, the homeschool family needs an individual mission statement.

It can be written or simply agreed upon, but both mother and father should, together, form the family mission statement.

Set the goals you are hoping to achieve in your Catholic home education. Identify any child/children who have special needs or specific interests which will affect your goals (or the strategies it will require to meet them). Settle on a unified plan and desired outcome.

Then, on the days when the teacher is ready to “resign”, you’ll be able to remind her why she made the commitment to homeschool.

2. Wear the Principal’s Hat

Rarely was I sent to the principal’s office during my school career, but I still remember having a healthy sense of fear about that prospect. Your homeschoolers also need a higher authority when it comes to discipline. The proverbial warning “wait ‘til your father gets home” hasn’t lost its relevance.

When a child of mine (especially a son) instigates an educational power struggle, a phone call to dad is most often the best tactic for diffusing the situation.

Typically, my husband listens to the child’s defense, gives a stern admonishment, and advises the student on how to amend the problem.

3. Solve Problems

Juggling the day-to-day chores of the household, managing personalities in the homeschool, and maintaining some semblance of sanity, can sometimes leave a mother/teacher feeling overwhelmed. And like a hiker lost in the woods, she can lose sight of the way out of her dilemma.

There are instances when you have a better vantage point than mom. More distanced from the emotions, anxiety, and weariness, you can detect the root of a problem and map a solution.

Years ago, when my husband was temporarily out-of-work, he spent several weeks at home during schooling hours. It was then that he noticed a problem.

Lunchtime was regularly chaotic because each of our children demanded a different menu item. Honestly, I’d become so accustomed to the routine that I simply accepted the discord as normal. My husband saw it as a problem and enacted the solution. From that day to this, everyone in our household is required to eat the same lunch and dinner menu.

4. Date the Teacher

Dad, in your case, it’s okay to stand close to the teacher.  In fact, being romantic with the teacher is not only okay, it’s advisable when you’re married to her. Make date nights a priority at least once a month (even if date night is a bowl of popcorn, snuggles on the couch, and a movie in your livingroom, sans children.)

The heart of schooling in the home has to do with teaching children how to live. The students in your homeschool are learning how to love by following your example. Let them catch you admiring their mother and hear you praising her talents. Teach them to respect your marriage by guarding your privacy as a couple and setting aside spouse-only time each day.

5. Teach Manliness 101

Our culture has a masculinity problem. Namely, feminism has disenfranchised males, especially in the education setting. It’s no surprise why more young boys than girls are labeled as hyperactive or problem students. Energetic boys were not created to sit still for long periods of time poring over subjects which they
find uninspiring.

Homeschoolers can fall into the same trap since it is largely women who direct the schooling, co-ops, field trips, play dates, Sunday school classes, etc. When my oldest three boys were small, I was completely baffled by their near-constant activity (wrestling, kicking, racing), perpetual noise-making (vroom-vroom, beep-beep, pop-pop), and endless competitions (who could eat faster, run farther, score higher). I initially tried to quell their natural inclinations until I learned better.

My husband, on the other hand, was happy to throw them high in the air, fight them in a Daddy War, and challenge their resolve. And they loved him for it!

6. Go to Church

A 1994 survey in Switzerland found that the religious practices of a father decide the future attendance habits (or absence) of his children. No matter how devout the mother, if dad skips Mass, then only 2% of their children will be regular Mass-goers as adults. Sadly, more than 60% of their offspring will leave the Church.

Our children’s image of God as Father is directly linked to their Earthly father. If they witness you actively worshipping the Lord, they will understand the need to worship Him. If they regularly watch you enter the confessional, they will recognize the need for repentance and experience the power of God’s mercy.

No book, curriculum choice, or homeschool class can teach your children how to know, love, and serve God better than your example as Dad teaches them.

Not Just a Dad, But a Homeschooling Dad

Like the deacon, most homeschool fathers may not stay up-to-speed on every detail of their children’s education. You may rely on your wife’s skills for selecting the curriculum, orchestrating the lessons, and managing the daily schedules.

But your contribution as a homeschooling dad is equally essential, especially as you show your appreciation for their studies and…for their mother.

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