Working as One

h[box]Curious about homeschooling? Want to know what you need to get started? Then this month's posts are for you. Join us in the month of March as we look at some of the things that I have learned over the past ten years of homeschooling our children.[/box] When it comes to homeschooling in our home (and many other families I know), Mom does the bulk of the actual schooling. However, that doesn't mean that Dad isn't involved. As each member of the team or each part of the body does a different job, so moms and dads need to work together in the task of educating their children. What are some of the areas you may need to discuss or address?

1. Whether to homeschool or not.

Often, when a family is first considering homeschooling, one parent is more in favor of it than the other. That is natural and normal. However, I would advise against proceeding until both parties are at least willing to count the cost and move forward. For moms, if your husband has reservations or just isn't sure about this whole thing, I would counsel you to first of all, pray for the Lord's wisdom and guidance in this potentially touchy subject. If he is open to discussion, you may wish to consider attending a homeschooling conference together---not so you could convince him of the value of homeschooling, but so that he has the opportunity to make that decision for himself. As the leaders of our homes, I have come to see that to be respectful of our husband's leadership is very important, even (or especially) if we don't see things the same way.

For dads, if your wife has reservations, I would say the same thing. I think some moms are terrified of the idea of staying home with the kids all day, by herself! One of the ways you can encourage your wife is to let her share her fears. However, instead of trying to "fix" her or reason with her as to why those fears are unfounded, I would suggest that you listen and then bring those fears to the Father. As a homeschooling mom, I know that what I need to know most is that even though my husband cannot spend the time teaching the kids, he is behind me and is willing to support, help, and if necessary, take over if that is required. Would you be willing to do that for your wife?

Bottom line: take the time to find out what is causing the resistance or fear in your spouse. If the Lord is calling you but your spouse is not on board, it is worth it to make sure that you are on the same page. Otherwise, it may add a layer of challenge to your homeschooling experience that may make it even more difficult.

2. Pray over a vision for your children.

After the previous point, I think this is the second most important thing to work through before homeschooling. Even if both of you are on board and committed to homeschooling, and yet your vision and purpose for homeschooling is different, conflicts can arise. If your husband is in it for the academics, but you are in it for the character (or vice versa), then you may end up butting heads.

This is not to say that you cannot have both of those things. You can. However, it is best to discuss those together on the front end. My suggestion would be to carve out at least one session (a date night over dinner perhaps?) and write out a list of what each of you would most like to see in your children when they hit high school graduation. How would you know that your homeschooling years were a success? Where do your lists match? Where do they diverge? How would you consolidate and prioritize these lists down to the top five values?

Some of you may be able to do this in an evening. Some of you may not. However long it takes, though, I would encourage you to hash it out to the end. Why? When Mom and Dad are together in these vital priorities, whatever they are for your family, you can reinforce, support, and work together towards those goals. "A house divided cannot stand," Jesus said. Similarly, a homeschool divided cannot stand either.

3. Agree on your roles and how to handle decision-making in your homeschool. 

Some of you may not need to do this, but it may help others. I am notorious for having expectations of my husband--and then when he fails to meet those expectations (because he didn't know), I get upset. Or I assume that he will do something and he doesn't (again, becuase he didn't know), I am unhappy with him. If you think this might be necessary for you, it wouldn't hurt to spend some time talking about it. We agreed that I would do the actual schooling, choosing curricula, etc. He has trusted me to make those decisions. This might not be true in your family, but if you think this may be an issue, it wouldn't hurt to talk about it during a non-conflict time.

I encourage you if at all possible, to involve your husband in some way in your school. Some dads like to teach a subject, like math or science or English literature. Some dads read the family read-aloud in the evening before bed. Some dads serve as subs when mom is not available or has other appointments during the school day. Some dads provide the spiritual framework for the school by leading the family in devotions each day. Some dads are actively involved in the discipline and discipleship aspect of school. Whatever time he is able to contribute, ask the Lord to show you a way to let your husband be involved in your school.

For us, my husband gets involved by spending time with me evaluating what happened in the past year and then looking forward to the next. Periodically through the year, we spend time in prayer for each of our children. He also spends one-on-one time with our kids in specific activities: he bikes with Janna, helps out with Matthew during his volleyball season, takes Anah to her medical appointments, and reads a Bible story to Jonathan each night. There was a time when he led family devotions, but since our home renovations last year, we haven't picked it back up again. Hopefully, someday we will!

These are just a few things that you and your husband may wish to discuss before you start homeschooling. Of course, there may be things you do not anticipate, so I encourage you to set aside a little time at the end of the school year (or in the middle of it) to evaluate together. The more "together" you are in this journey, the better. Two are better than one, and this is definitely is true in homeschooling. Don't try to go it alone!