Monday, September 8, 2008


My husband has always been way more interested in our homeschool than most dads seem to be. Few fathers in my circle give more than a passing thought as to what curriculum their wife chooses, what books are being read or what hours are taken up with educational endeavors. I've always counted myself blessed that my dh does, in fact, invest in these things. It's endearing to have a man who takes an interest in the single pursuit that takes up the bulk of your time. And frankly, I really wouldn't want the burden of making all of these potentially large and looming choices by myself. They're our children, after all. Not just mine.

Over the years, dh's role in our homeschool has taken on varying roles according to how much time he can devote to educating the kids alongside me. This, again, is uncommon in my experiences. My dh has always been responsible for reading the SL read-alouds to Jo. This was his first act as a homeschooling dad--claiming that little bit of territory--and he's maintained it throughout the years. Now that Atticus is also able to listen in on many of the read-alouds, he often joins in on the pre-bedtime fun. Poor Logan gets a separate read-aloud with me that is more age-appropriate. He doesn't seem to mind.

Other things that dh has taken on: teaching Jo French. When Jo asserted that she wanted to learn Spanish, French and Portuguese, I was at a loss. Resetta Stone has our back covered on the Spanish end of things, and dh (who is bumblingly semi-fluent in French) swooped to the rescue on the whole French thing. Portuguese ... we'll figure that one out.

There are other things that clearly fall into dh's homeschooling realm. Checker of all things math. Player of many learning games. Builder of many projects. He is the master of many little odds and ends that keep our homeschool exciting and lively.

Dh has always been fairly content with my day-to-day teaching of the children. After helping select the curricula and rallying the troops, he tends to step back and allow me to take the reigns in the educational areas where I generally lead our little army: reading instruction, math drill, geography ... the basics. He asks how it's going. He listens as the kids detail the course of their day. He encourages. He offers a me perspective.

He has his areas. I have mine. And together, we get the job done.

But lately, apparently, he's been worried that I haven't been doing my part to the fullest.

O.k., o.k. Let me say right off the bat that I am glad I have the kind of marriage where my husband can turn to me in the middle of flipping Sunday morning pancakes and ask, "So ... are you getting tired of the whole homeschooling thing?" I mean, if I were actually, growing weary of home education, this would have been a wonderful, gentle opening that allowed me to bow out gracefully. What a man!

But, no. I am not tired of homeschooling. And I thought he knew that. I mean, didn't he know about all of the big plans I was sorting through in my head? Couldn't he see the way I was carefully easing us back in to a semblance of schedule? Wasn't it obvious that I was just waiting to get past this and that and this again, and then we'd be ready for the full swing of fall?

This is what I thought: you can't read my mind? What kind of a man are you?!?

The conversation got long and drawn out, because of course, homeschooling is an emotional thing for me. (Is everyone like this?) The long and short is that what was in my head (see above) looked like this to my husband:

1--I hear her talking about plans, but I don't see any actual evidence that she's doing them.
2--She's been taking things slow for a month. Isn't it time to just get on with it?
3--What is she doing all day anyhow?


I took this all as a huge wake-up call. I spent the evening last night putting together actual, concrete plans for this week and making them accessible to dh. I woke up this morning, got dressed and got moving. All of those things I was waiting to do have suddenly snapped into focus, and I'm moving forward. It feels strangely good.

Part of dh's concerns, I discovered, stem from the fact that Jo is moving at break-neck speed toward high school and eventual higher education. And just like the anxiety he felt when we first began homeschooling, he's fighting off the niggling fear that what she gets here won't be enough. That a private school could do it better. That without careful attention to detail, we might fail her.

Now, he doesn't really believe that. And I don't, either. But, as the primary parent in thie educational adventure, I have to set his fears to rest. I have to show him that the trains can--and will--run on time. I have to stay focused, to shrug off my own "it'll happen ... someday" mentality and to offer her the opportunities she deserves. A tall order!

But at least I know we'll be working toward that goal together. While dh did chide me with a gentle rebuke, he fully reaffirmed his commitment to homeschooling, as well as his faith in me to get the job done in the areas I've accepted responsibility for. Once again, I'm so glad not to be balancing the entire load on my own shoulders.

So ....

So long, lazy days of summer. So long, casual school. It's time to snap back into routine and to actually, satifactually progress.


SmallWorld at Home said...

How awesome that you and your husband could have this talk--without hostility--and come to an agreement! And yes, homeschooling IS an emotional thing!

Kindred Blessings said...

You are so blessed to have your dh there to help you!

Funny...I've been working on the high schools plans over the alst week and a half. I have "the outline" through graduation for both Peter and Anne. You dh is right and it's good to know what's required so you can prepare and the college requirements don't blindside you/us.

Benny said...

It shows something of your character that you take such well intentioned, but still potentially painful, criticism with such grace. That speaks volumes to your love and commitment to not only your husband but your children as well. Thanks for sharing.