Today's post is brought to you by my husband Jason! Since we started off with our son in public school, Jason and I have transformed our thinking about home education. Now he enjoys tutoring classes at our local Classical Conversations community. We have struggled through this journey, but I hope his experience brings you encouragement wherever you find you and your husband on your journey. Enjoy!
Thinking about getting your husband involved, much less getting him involved in your homeschooling is tricky. Believe me, as a dad and husband, I know.
Though some husbands do it naturally, clearly defining roles is harder than it seems. Re-prioritizing time is a hard adjustment. Being on the same page is actually a progressive thing. You may already be acutely aware of this, but remember that his fears can be very strong. Most dads really do want to be involved, but are afraid that they’ll somehow "mess it up.” They don’t exactly know how to be involved, and are afraid that their involvement would bring even more chaos to his wife.
(He doesn’t realize that his chaos is her comfort.)
As if they are qualifying for an Olympic race, many dads feel that they are going to need to prove themselves. They might feel as if they will need to be as involved as their wife to really qualify as “involved."
There are “levels” of involvement. Yes, like a video game, level one is the easiest…and it counts. If he engages in level one, he is in fact, “involved" at this level.
Before I get ahead of myself, the 5 levels of involvement below represent increasing levels of involvement both at home and in community.
So you know, I will be writing from the perspective of a family engaged in a program called Classical Conversations, a Christian, classical, homeschool community. Most of these levels will work for almost any homeschool curriculum, however, so I’ll just let you read this in whatever context you find yourself.
Also, moms, this is written primarily to you. For one, it’s likely your husband will not read this (if you are a dad reading this, I challenge you to leave a response at the bottom). Second, you have the awesome privilege, as one equipped by God, to nurture your kids physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Indeed, you have an innate ability to nurture and your intuition and sensitivity to God’s Spirit will serve you well in the adventure of raising young men and women.
With that said, and as an encouragement to you, moms, here are 5 levels of involvement in which you might find your husband. They are only generally sequential, and I hope they are helpful:
Level 1 - Paying for Homeschooling
Honestly, this is where I started. When we pulled our son out of (free) public school in 3rd grade, that meant we would need to begin to pay for other things in the education of our kids. If your husband is paying or has agreed to pay for curriculum, or even community involvement and a program like Classical Conversations, rejoice. He is involved. At this point, you have thought through way more than he has, and he is trusting you. Good sign.
This is the only level that only has one thing in it. Why? It’s a big step. Starting a game you’ve never played in your life takes courage. Granted, this is not a game by any means, but only to say that to him, this whole thing is still a bit of an “unknown.” Regardless of how much you’ve talked to him about it, paying for homeschool means going against his entire public school experience and giving in to the many stigmas given to the homeschooling method.
Probably by your encouragement (and hopefully the leading of the Spirit), he has also come to the point where he knows that it is better to homeschool your kids than to send them to public school.
Paying is a big deal.
Level 1 question: Is he paying for homeschool?
Level 2: Knowing the Purpose of Homeschooling
If he has paid, he may have already done this. As I said, our family is involved with Classical Conversations. I read purpose statements and other documents before we joined, but it didn’t really dawn on me until later. Your husband may know exactly what the purpose of homeschooling is. He may know exactly the purpose of a program like Classical Conversations.
Level 2 has to do with observing if he knows more than just the fact that you are homeschooling, and has determined the purpose. Does he know why you are homeschooling in the first place?
It took me a while to realize that we weren’t just homeschooling to allow my son to spend more time in gymnastics, or even because he talked too much and was disturbing his whole class. No, homeschooling is not just academic. (Neither is public school, but that’s a different thing.) Homeschooling is about Ephesians 6:1-4 and Deuteronomy 6:1-9.
If he is aware and interested in homeschooling as discipleship, maybe he has desired to visit the community you are involved in. That’s another part of this level. Does he know he can come to your opening or closing ceremony? I realize his work schedule may be an issue (I was in the construction field for more than 10 years), and you may need to plan in advance. Showing his face in this way communicates volumes, not only to the kids, but to others that your family is all in.
Level 2 questions:
Does he know the purpose of homeschool for your family?
Does he know the purpose of the curriculum or community you are using?
Has he come to an opening or closing ceremony of that community?
Level 3: Engaging in the Process of Homeschooling
Level three shows even more time commitment both at home and in the community. As for the community, watch to see if your community has gatherings of any kind outside of community day. This summer, our community has held “Park Days.” Many families, including dads, came to allow the kids to play and the parents to talk and get to know one another. There may be other kinds of gatherings, but the purpose of a community is to get to know others who have a common purpose and passion. Has he tried one out? Invite him to one or two of these.
Give Him Tools to Grow
At home, there may be several books you have come across that would help him understand the classical method (for instance), which would help him understand the methods you are using. A book called Classical Education Made Approachable is a good start. If he’s not much of a reader, this one is not very intimidating. Then, ask him about it!
Whether he reads a book like this or not, and you suddenly realize he is trying to communicate about education and your kids, give him your full attention. What is he trying to say? He may not be able to use the same kind of “homeschool/education” language you use, but he may want to know what your plan is. He no longer wants to say, “Oh, that’s her thing.”
He wants to be on the same page.
Now, there’s one thing you should know. As a man, I’ve found that being on the same page is more of a progressive thing. I think the page has been the same, but it turns different colors. I think we’re on the back-side of the page, now, too.
Let him know where you are on the page. If he feels you have left him in the dust, let him know nothing has changed - you’re just on a different part of the same page. 🙂
Rejoice that he’s asking about it.
Level 3 questions:
Does he come to gatherings for your community to meet other parents involved?
Has he read a book that might help him understand your methods?
Is he asking about what your plan is for educating the kids?
Level 4: Growing in his Understanding of Homeschooling
I believe God used this level in my life the most. I began to read books with my family, I became the official “Principal” of our homeschool, and I spoke more deeply with other men who have homeschooled before me. This last one can happen at any level, really. For me, it was what helped solidify the purpose (Level 2) for me. Some of these men I only listened to (like a man named Andrew Kern, head of the CiRCE Institute), and some I actually talked to and asked questions.
Men in our church or in our community I was getting to know were instrumental in my growth as a leading father. In addition, sometimes there is a “Dad's breakfast” or other meeting for men only. These kinds of things can be a great catalyst for personal involvement. Generally, men connect easier with men since there tend to be common interests. When the interest of homeschooling gets put in the mix, men still don’t quite know how to talk about it, but they learn together.
A Note about Passivity
As a sidenote, I want to mention that I struggle with the tendency to be passive. There have been times when I have listened or talked with men or women about being a Christ-following, leading father, and have felt good about the conversation, but ultimately decided that it would be easier for me if I just didn’t do anything about that conversation or its content.
God has been working on my heart in this area and I know God is working on your husband. He wants a man that fears Him leading your home. You can encourage your husband to stay close to our heavenly Father, and as that vertical connection is established and maintained, horizontal relationships will be desired. He needs a desire to learn, and one good way to keep nurturing this is to ask Him his opinion. Ask him to teach you something. If he’s not there yet, help him ask questions about what you are doing in your journey to raise your children in "the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (cf. Eh 6:4) That is what homeschooling is, after all.
Honest and humble questions are one of the best ways to help your husband to be passionate about leading.
Level 4 questions:
Does he read books with the family and/or asking the children to describe what they are reading?
Does he have the desire to establish himself as the Principal of your homeschool?
Does he have the desire to meet other families, even other men from your community?
Level 5: Ramping up his Involvement in Homeschooling
There are additional things you might find your husband wanting to do to be involved. You might find him talking to your daughter about science, or your son about math. Regardless of how that conversation started, go grab the math book you’re using and turn to the page your son is on: “Why don’t you do a few of these with him, honey? That can be his work for the day.” Say whatever you like, but patiently see what he does.
One response doesn’t necessarily define them all, and if he really wants to be involved at this level, he will. Level 5 definitely takes more of a time commitment. If he has been hinting, bring it up in a conversation between just the two of you and plan something out: “I was thinking about the Fall, and I’ve noticed you’ve been talking more about science. Do want to work out when you might be able to talk about science with our little scientist on a more regular basis?”
In addition, maybe he is interested in what you do at the weekly meetings. If he has time, let him know he is invited to see the weekly opening times, where the entire group is together and families do presentations about who they are. It’s really good!
Dads Make Great Tutors
Depending on what he does for a living, encourage him about the values of a man tutoring a class! I almost put this on a different level, but in terms of involvement, we’re still just talking about 1 day per week. Though it adds preparation time and additional communication with other families, it’s still fairly minimal in the spectrum of things...at least, compared to my 50-60 hour/week construction job, it is minimal.
After tutoring for several years myself, I can tell you it is so cool to be a part of other families’ lives this way. I get to be a part of supporting parents in their efforts to raise their children. A very small part, granted, but just seeing the faces of the kids is a blessing in itself for me.
Level 5 questions:
Has he shown interest in helping out with a subject like science, math, or history?
Is he interested in coming to the weekly opening times for your community?
Might he be both available and interested in tutoring a class?
Be Patient With Your Husband
So there are 5 rough levels of involvement for you. Obviously this is not meant to cause inner-community competition, as if one husband is more “behind” than another. Shame is powerful - please guard against it. I hope this has been an encouragement to you, moms. Everyone progresses at a different rate. “We’re not in line,” someone has said, so there’s no “behind" or “ahead.” Take this as a chance to encourage your husband where he is.
Know his strengths. Know his limitations.
You both have different gifts. Spouses can show hospitality and grace to one another, too.
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace; whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies - in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:8-11
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.