A Tribute to Homeschool Fathers

Father’s Day is a special occasion for honoring fathers. All fathers are worthy of respect and appreciation for the things they do for their family, but I wanted to narrow my focus to the homeschool father. Homeschooling isn’t a popular choice to make or an easy road to navigate, and although it’s a blessing, it can put additional strain on a marriage. The role of homeschool father presents some unique challenges and responsibilities. I’d like to list some of them, as well as pass on a little advice from veteran homeschool fathers to those who are just beginning the journey. It takes a special man to be a homeschool father.

With permission, I’ve quoted some men who were influential in our household.  Also, I asked some veteran fathers for their input and it’s given anonymously.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may earn a small commission if you use one to make a purchase. It doesn’t affect the price you pay. 

Spiritual Head

The most important role within a Christian family is that of the spiritual head of the household. In this capacity, the father concerns himself with his family members’ relationship with God, and models in human form the Heavenly Father who can’t be seen. In order to do this he must have a good connection with God and an unwavering commitment to his wife and children.

About this responsibility, Christopher Klicka wrote,

“I could simply delegate all the tasks of training my children to my wife. Some homeschool fathers do. But such an arrangement is a recipe for failure. We fathers need to be seriously committed and involved in our homeschooling to truly fulfill our responsibility before God, adequately demonstrate love to our children, and unconditionally love our wife.

In Ephesians 6:4, God makes it clear. “Fathers provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The command is to us fathers – not to mothers. The responsibility is on us “to bring them up.” This requires action on our part. We can delegate the authority to train and bring up our children to someone else but never the responsibility.

One day when we stand before God, we fathers will have to answer for how our children were trained. Homeschooling happens to be the best way to fulfill this responsibility and the commands that God has given us. But we must realize that homeschooling is not the end in itself – it is a means to the end. The end we are aiming for is that our children will be “arrows” carrying God’s truth to this world and one day living with us in heaven.” (“Top Ten Tips for Homeschool Dads,” Christopher Klicka, originally published in Practical Homeschooling #48, July/Aug 2002, ©Home Life Inc., all rights reserved by Home Life Inc., used by permission)

Dr. James Dobson wrote this hard-hitting fact:

“A Child identifies his parents with God in the early days, whether the adults want the role or not. Specifically, most children see God the way they perceive their earthly fathers.” (Dr. James Dobson, The New Strong-Willed Child, p. 66, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1978, used by permission)

Devoted Husband

The foundation of the family (and homeschool) is the marriage, so nurturing that relationship is very important. The way the father treats his wife affects the way the children see their mother, which in turn, affects the success of the homeschool. About this role, J. Michael Smith of HSLDA said,

“The role of a homeschool dad should be the best husband to his wife, and father to his children as he can be. That will go farther than anything he can do to help his wife in homeschooling. Make the marriage a priority and love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. That’s the goal. Part of loving a homeschool wife is helping and homeschooling by at least being the Principal of the whole school.”

Dr. James Dobson emphasized the importance of how Dad treats Mom, and how it influences the way the children see her:

“The best public-relations agent for Mom—is Dad. Fathers can wield tremendous influence over what children think of their mothers, or of women in general…

In a world that often discounts the contribution of women, especially homemakers, it’s up to us as husbands to say in a dozen ways, ‘Your mother is a wonderful woman! She works hard and she deserves tremendous credit for what she gives to us all. As far as I’m concerned, she’s number one!’

Kids will quickly recognize the respect shown by a father and reflect it in their attitudes and behavior. It is a public-relations assignment that only they can perform.”  (“Dads–Kids Will Treat Mom Based On Your Actions,” Dr. James Dobson, originally published in The Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide, used by permission.)

Protector

In my post, “Homeschooling as a Ministry,” I wrote about the need for a homeschool mom to protect her time and energy. When it’s known that she’s a stay-at-home mother, she may be asked to help with other projects and ministries. It can be really hard to say “no,” especially for people-pleasers. The homeschool father can help his wife determine which, if any, of them she should commit to, and be willing to be the bad guy when she must refrain. One father said, “My wife has permission to blame me when needing to decline uncomfortable requests and invitations. ‘My husband won’t allow that.’ This answer removes the need to justify, explain, or give reasons for the decision. Further discussion can simply be referred to me. Even most persistent folks who will badger my wife won’t usually badger me, and I don’t often give more than a ‘because I said so’ to pushy people.”

At times, it may be necessary to protect your family from well-meaning family, friends and neighbors. They may ask questions about the homeschool, they may make a report to the authorities, they may even threaten to fight for custody of the children. As the head of the family, the homeschool father needs to set firm boundaries for the protection of his family. He should be the one to determine what information he wants to give to those parties.

I regret to say it, but time and time again, in Facebook groups, I read posts about in-laws making inquiries and negative comments to the homeschool mother. Especially in these cases, the homeschool father should tell his parents to direct their concerns to him. When the children’s mother is left to handle it, it puts her in the awkward position of potentially offending her in-laws and causing problems in her marriage. If the husband sets that boundary then he will protect the relationship with his wife. It can be hard to set boundaries for one’s parents, but Ephesians 5:31 says, ““For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” For the protection of the marriage, a boundary should be set.

Supporter

Unfortunately, not all homeschooling parents have good support systems. When there are naysayers it can add yet more stress. Even if you’re part of homeschool support groups, there can still be times of feeling alone. It’s hard to be counter-culture and it can really be draining. The homeschooling father can be strong when mom can’t. Lending a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on will go a long way in helping to recharge her batteries.

In addition to emotional support, Dad provides shelter, transportation, and resources for the homeschool. It would be hard to do without those things.

Principal

The role of Principal may include working with mom to set goals and choose curriculum. He may also help with the teaching. But discipline is the biggest responsibility because if mom doesn’t have respect and obedience from her students, she is not going to be able to teach. She’ll get burned out and want to quit.

In my early homeschooling years I read something that stuck with me. I don’t remember where I read it, or I would give them credit, but in talking about the father, he said that the father should support the mother (in disciplining) in such a way, that when the kids look at their mother, they see the shadow of their father behind her. I loved that illustration, and have never forgotten it.

When our son entered the teens, I started to have a hard time teaching him. We spent a lot of time arguing, and now I couldn’t even tell you what about. My husband was self-employed so he was home a lot, but his office was in our storm shelter/basement. One day my son and I started arguing and my husband could hear us down in the basement. All of a sudden, my husband appeared and took over handling the problem. I was always so grateful to know that I had his support and that if I had problems with the kids that he would step in and take over. Without that help, I wouldn’t have been able to finish homeschooling.

I realize that not all families have that luxury. Some fathers work or travel a lot, and can’t always be there. In those situations, he’ll need to come up with a plan for when he is home. It’s up to each couple to determine how they will discipline their children, but the buck needs to stop with Dad. Whatever consequences are set out, the children need to know without a doubt, that they will be followed through on. For Christian parenting advice, my favorite source is Dr. James Dobson.

Our Homeschool

We homeschooled for fourteen years, so I asked my husband, Scott, for his perspective. He said, “I saw my role mainly as support and encouragement, and occasionally as the Principal. I facilitated homeschooling by providing the home and resources. I didn’t feel like I needed to be involved in planning because I felt that you were doing a good job, that the kids were ahead of the curve. I acted as an encourager by helping you to look at the big picture when you got discouraged. The verse, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” kept coming to my mind as the core reason of why we homeschooled. I wasn’t worried about whether they went to college – I felt that if they were grounded spiritually that it would all be okay. Conversely, if they had a stellar secular education but were ungrounded spiritually, what value would that be?

Scott and I did a lot of talking and praying together over the years to chart the course for our homeschool. Keeping our focus on God provided the direction. Knowing how Scott felt about things helped me to make the day-to-day decisions.  God, through Scott, provided everything I needed to educate our kids. Both of them graduated from our homeschool, and now, together, we watch our kids enter adulthood and thank God for giving them to us, and for the blessing of homeschooling.

Advice From Veteran Homeschool Fathers

I asked a few veteran homeschool fathers, including my husband, what advice they would give to men who are new in that role.

One father who responded had the roles reversed in his family in that both he and his wife worked outside the home, but since his job offered more flexibility, he took on the responsibility of homeschooling their daughter. He said, “BE INVOLVED. I can’t stress this enough. My wife regrets not being more involved, because she sees how much homeschooling affected my daughter’s relationship with me. She sees that we have a deeper relationship because I spent most of the time homeschooling her. My wife says that if she could go back and do it over again, she would find ways to be a part of the day-to-day homeschooling.”

A Homeschool Principal of 25 years advises, “Pray, take an active interest in your children’s education, join a home school support group, respect your wife and her efforts, and make sure the children do, too.”

My husband, Scott, says, “Be a strong encourager. Don’t let all the weight be on your wife’s shoulders. Cherish the freedom and embrace it, rather than the workload. People don’t understand the freedom of homeschooling. There is work, but also great freedom. God gave your children to you, not to the city, state, or federal government.”

Thank You!

As you can see, a lot of responsibility has been put on the shoulders of homeschool fathers, and they are so important! To homeschool fathers everywhere, happy Father’s Day and thank you for everything you do!

Helpful Links

Homeschooling as a Ministry

Homeschool Heroes ~ An Interview with J. Michael Smith of HSLDA

Top Ten Tips for Homeschool Dads by Christopher Klicka

Spiritual Leadership in the Home by Dr. James Dobson

“9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling” – My ebook that helps you get started homeschooling without the stress. See link in sidebar.

A Tribute to Homeschool Fathers

10 Pieces of Advice for New Homeschoolers

Our family spent fourteen years homeschooling and during that time I helped a lot of other families get started. If you are in the beginning stages of homeschooling, then here are ten pieces of advice that I would offer you.

1. Why are you homeschooling?

Write down all the reasons why you’ve chosen to homeschool. Believe me, there will be days when you will need to reread this. Days when everything goes wrong. Days when people question your sanity and/or your children’s well-being. And days when you’re tired, confused, or burned out. There will be days!

2. Set goals

Set goals for each of your children, and your family as a whole. Not only educational ones, but quality of life ones. Write them down for future reference. These will come in handy in making decisions about allocating time and budget among curriculum and activities. These aren’t etched in stone. They can be revised as needed.

img_0938

3. Define success

Success is going to look different for different families. One family may have the goal of their children attending an Ivy League school, or their own alma mater. Another family may want their children to take over the family business. Still other families may have definitions that don’t have anything to do with education, but rather the quality of their children’s lives. Again, write this down. There will be times when you will be tempted to compare your students with others, and being able to review your definition of success will remind you that all homeschools are unique. It will also help you to determine when you have achieved it.

img_0939

4. Don’t try to recreate school

Embrace freedom. Let yourself enjoy the time spent with your kids, watching them blossom. It may be hard to believe now, but one day you’ll look back and wonder where all that time went. You won’t remember the days you were locking horns as much as you’ll remember the days when you witnessed a light flickering on, the discovery of a new talent, and the precious time spent with little ones that grow too fast.

Homeschooling has so much freedom that it can actually be a little scary. Some families Unschool, while others prefer the reassurance and structure of curriculum. I’ve known families whose school schedule followed a parent’s work schedule. One family whose father traveled a lot did school when he was away and took off when he was home to spend time with him, for example. I’ve also known families who homeschooled while traveling in an RV or boat. School doesn’t always have to take place at a desk. Also, see “Thinking Outside the Desk While Homeschooling.”

Dignify your homeschool by giving it a name and a motto. When your students graduate you can order a custom, high-quality diploma with these details on it.

5. Homeschooling is a Lifestyle

Homeschooling isn’t just an educational choice, it’s a lifestyle. It affects your family relationships because you’ll be spending so much more time together. If you view it more as a lifestyle than just school, you’ll have a broader view and see that learning and socialization take place all the time. It’s like putting on a different pair of glasses. Also, be sure to read “Warnings from a Retired Homeschool Mom”.

6. Allow A Detox Period

If you are taking your kids out of school to start at home, give yourselves time to adjust. Don’t feel the need to leap right into bookwork and a strict schedule. There are lots of changes taking place with schedules, expectations, and family dynamics. Do educational, yet fun, things to mark the change from school to homeschool. For science go on nature walks and take some guidebooks along to identify trees or birds. For math do some baking or order a pizza to practice fractions. Visit museums and zoos. Take a family vacation and visit historical spots. Once you start your curriculum, you still may want to ease into it, adding a few subjects at a time as you figure out where your children are, what their needs are, and how they learn best.

Hands-on Learning at an Aquarium
Hands-on Learning at an Aquarium
7. You aren’t married to your curriculum

I feel safe in saying that you WILL make changes. As you find out what works or doesn’t work, and as your kids mature, your needs will change. Read about homeschooling approaches, learning styles, and curriculum reviews. Make the best choice you can and start.

8. Keep a personal journal

Write down funny things, “aha” moments, lessons learned, answered prayers, etc. You will enjoy having it, and someday might want to blog or write a book. This would be a good place to keep a copy of your reasons (#1), goals (#2), and definition of success (#3). Read “Save Your Memories with an Easy Email Journal.”

9. Keep a SCHOOL log

I kept a running list for each child. At the beginning of each school year I listed what grade they were in, what curriculum and outside classes we were using. Below that I listed any field trips or extra-curricular activities the kids participated in throughout the school year. This may come in handy if you ever have legal trouble, when applying to a school or college, or even for your own memories later on. Keep copies of certificates, awards, and photos. This will be especially handy during the high school years when making transcripts. If it’s on the computer, be sure to print it out occasionally in case something happens to your computer.

10. Go with the Flow

This may be hard to do, especially at first, but homeschooling is full of change. Every year, every semester, is different. Each child is different. You will never have it all figured out so try to relax and enjoy the ride. Know that your children are being taught by their parents (or other family members) who love them and want what is best for them. As long as you are diligent in homeschooling, it will be okay.

Go with the flow
Go with the flow
9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling

Even though it’s been awhile since we began homeschooling, I remember my emotions very well. Drawing on my experience, I wrote an ebook to help others get their new homeschool started. It includes the advice I’ve given above and guides you step-by-step through a process that can be overwhelming. Follow this link to get your copy of “9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling.”

Related Reading

You can read about how we started homeschooling in “The Birth of Curren Christian Academy.”

My Recommended Reading List.

This post has been shared at my favorite blog hops.