We have been homeschooling our three children (ages 7, 9, and 11) since our oldest was 5 years old. My wife has been near-burnout for some time now, and we have several homeschool friends who are in similar situations.
As the “breadwinner” I have a full time job from 7AM to 6PM (including drive time) that includes a pretty heavy extended travel schedule out of state. By the time I come home at night, eat dinner with the family and wash dishes, we get the kids ready for bed and there is only a minimum of interaction between us. My wife is exhausted from the day’s work, as am I, and we spend only a little time together before going to bed, with 10PM being a late night!
It seems to me that the Scriptures are speaking mainly to the fathers when they say to teach the children diligently, yet we (as a homeschool community) have placed the burden on the mothers. Just doing any quick search with Google on homeschooling will show that it is certainly a mom dominated profession and market. I wonder if we aren’t all starting to reap the consequences of not schooling in line with Scriptures.
Most of the articles I’ve found on fathers and homeschooling are about how we can “help out” our wives when we come home at night. Things like reading to our children, doing science experiments, and making sure we all eat dinner together. Are we as fathers actually wimping out on the subject, and giving our wives a burden too large for them to bear? I’m afraid that in the coming years we will have more and more stories of actual breakdowns as the pressure builds on women who are doing a job they were never designed by our Lord to do.
I can’t say I have any clear answers, which is why I’m writing this letter.
1. Fathers must train up their children. I think that all will agree that delegation is allowed and that mothers, grandmothers, and grandfathers can each play a part in the training. However, I think fathers must do more than say “I’m responsible”, and then leave it all up to others without some direct training himself.
2. Government Schools are out. There is no way I could delegate my authority to such a Godless institution.
3. Christian Schools, in theory, could be acceptable. Many, sadly, seem to be mere copies of the government schools with a bit of Scripture thrown in for good measure, and most are without the better facilities of the government schools! There are likely some exceptions throughout the country that might make a viable alternative for some, but they will still have some of the pitfalls as explained in the Bluedorn’s “Teaching the Trivium”, such as large class sizes, children taking to the teacher as an authority over the parent, peer associations, and so forth.
4. We have 24 hours in each day. Some families may be able to work with unusual schedules, such as 6AM lessons, or evening work. These two choices don’t seem to be workable in my household, but I can’t say I’ve actually tried either of them.
5. Some of the added pressures on mothers is keeping the house and the children clean, meals, preparing for guests, and so forth. Helping out around the house is certainly helpful (and should be done anyway), but to me avoids the main issue of the father needing to be a teacher.
6. The Robinson Curriculum (I’ve never actually seen it) states that he trains his children to be independent learners. There are still the younger ages when the children are still learning the basics where hands-on teaching will be mandatory, but this method may help ease the burden in the later years.
7. Flexible work schedules can help in some professions. Fathers may even be able to bring his children to work with him, though this is not likely for most jobs. Men who have jobs close to home could provide some instruction by coming home at lunch.
Should we men be taking more drastic measures? Have we bought into a burdensome industrialized society to our own demise? I know that some families have completely resorted to home business. I’d be interested in hearing thoughts and ideas that others may have on this subject.