“Mom’s the teacher, and I’m the principal; she teaches, and I foot the bills.” When I was growing up as a homeschool kid, I heard several homeschool dads humorously relate this sentiment. As dads, we know we’re supposed to take the leadership role in homeschooling, so we put on the mantle of a school administrator. Even though we’re not usually engaged in the day-to-day homeschooling of our children, we end up paying the bills for the cost of education and thus feel that we’ve checked off our responsibility.
God gives fathers the responsibility of bringing up children in the nurture of the Lord. When it comes to the stuff of education, we have a tremendous opportunity to lead and partner with our wives in the homeschooling of our children. Scripture gives us as dads three specific responsibilities related to our wives and children.
- To love our wives by sacrificing for them (Ephesians 5:25)
- To live with our wives in an understanding way by listening to them (1 Peter 3:7)
- To take responsibility for our children’s development (Ephesians 6:4)
Here are three ways we can lead our families in homeschooling.
1. Setting the priorities
Homeschooling provides our families with unlimited opportunities, and we need priorities to determine which opportunities should be labeled “good,” “better,” or “best.” When my wife and I were first married, we enjoyed discussing all the activities we wanted our future children to be involved in such as art, sports, community outreach, music, speech, and debate.
Now that we have three children and our oldest will soon be the age when she can begin participating in some of these additional activities, we’ve realized that there’s only so much time during a week. So we’ve prioritized. When T-ball sign-up came along, we declined.
On the other hand, my wife and I believe that biblical-worldview-based curriculum materials are a non-negotiable. We’ve made that the most important point in evaluating educational options for our family. This is our family’s choice, and you may have different priorities. Here are some priorities to consider:
- Biblical-worldview-based curriculum materials
- Curriculum for main academic subjects
- Bible courses
- Music and arts
Know your priorities and let them guide your decision-making.
2. Finding the best approach
I remember walking around the vendor hall at homeschool conferences when I was a kid. Even then, families had a wide variety of curriculum choices. Today, husbands and wives can be overwhelmed by the multitude of choices available as various vendors tout the success of their products. Where to begin?
Begin with your family’s educational philosophy or approach. Over the past thirty years, homeschoolers have innovated or rediscovered a variety of educational approaches. There’s everything from unschooling to classical education. As families, we need to evaluate these approaches and choose the one that will be the foundation of our homeschooling. There are different ways a dad can be involved in setting a direction.
If your wife eagerly embraces homeschooling:
- Support her by listening to her ideas
- Ask questions so that you understand
- Be able to explain your family’s approach so that you can own your children’s education
- Prepare to fund materials that fit the approach
If your wife is overwhelmed by homeschooling:
- Ask questions so that you understand her concerns
- Research educational programs and share your findings
- Listen to her responses
- Choose your family’s approach together but remember who will be doing the day-to-day teaching
Don’t be passive. It’s your children’s future. Get involved and stay involved.
3. Stepping in when there are challenges
I remember the day I fought my mom all day over a math concept. I was getting every problem wrong, and I had the wrong attitude. When Dad got home, my exasperated mom asked for help. He got involved, and it made a huge difference—for everyone. As dads, we need to step in when things come up. Here are ways you can step in:
- Know your own strengths and weaknesses as well as your wife’s
- Maintain your children’s respect for their mother
- Help teach or tutor a specific subject
- Do a household job so that your wife can set up a hands-on activity
- Encourage your wife to continue on with the educational program at the first signs of trouble but speak up when you know it’s not working
- Take the kids for a day so that your wife can regroup
Homeschooling is a challenge. Be alert to ways you can sacrifice for your wife and help your children grow.