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.
God is raising up a generations of dads that are getting the vision! God has called us to teach and train, with our wives as wonderful helpers. For too long, the burden has been on them.
Several quick ideas.
. I’ve used a tape recorder to tape lessons or burned CDs for my children.
. Instead of going out with the “gang at work” for lunch, especially when home is too far away, spend the hour on the phone with wife and family. There are many options available to make calling cheap even when travelling.
. If your company allows it, and you have older children, set up Chat and allow your children to chat with you any time they want to while you are at work.
. You as dad, take your weekends and you plan what your children are studying. I take this as my great priviledge to weekly plan the course of study for my children. My wife just executes the plan.
I just wanted to thank you (Nathaniel Bluedorn) for your great article, “Reasons from the Bible to Study Logic”. God has blessed my wife Aimee and I with 5 sons with another blessing on the way (statistical likelihood of another boy). We have begun a ‘Contenders for the Faith’ group with our oldest son, Daniel and a few other fathers and sons. I’ve been doing a regular character study with the boys of this group and this week’s topic is Discernment. I’m using the topic headings and some of the scriptures that you cite as the lesson.
Thanks to you and to God for His wisdom. Your brother in Christ,
I’d like to comment on “Homeschooling Fathers.” Firstly, to say just how great the letter was, as it summed up what is the situation for so many families, and secondly, because it was about this verse to fathers that seems to be coming up more and more.
My thoughts on the subject over the last few years have been exactly in line with the author’s. I haven’t got any further down the road of addressing this area. I do wonder, though, whether we need to put things into context, and do some digging into the history and daily lives of the people at this point in the Bible: did boys stay with their mothers until the age of 7 (as in Saudia Arabia in present times) and then enter into the father’s life and society, to be brought up by him more extensively, than by the mother? Is the Bible talking generally here, acknowledging that the Head of the house is ultimately responsible, but that the daily running and actual implementation will fall to the mother, as the author said in his first point. ( along the lines of the male line and names only ever being recorded, not the mother’s as well?) Was life such that for the vast majority of people at this time, the father had an occupation that would allow the sons to become miniature apprentices and thus be more exposed to his teachings and laws than their mothers? Does this verse imply that sons would’ve been in their father’s company, and daughters in their mother’s, and that it is therefore actually speaking to both sexes to bring up whatever children are in their keeping, in the nurture of the Lord?
These are some things that worry me when I think about this subject, especially as the answers may cause a complete lifestyle change for the whole family, and affect their future happiness. A number of things in the Bible have to be put into context to understand fully and I wonder whether this verse isn’t the same. I’d like to have a home business for the whole family too, but we can’t come up with anything suitable for us just at this moment in time, though we have vague plans for when the children are older. To have the father earning money at home somehow doesn’t seem feasible for the vast majority of families in these times, it seems to me. I acknowledge I can’t think of any other verses offhand, other than the one in the NT which commands parents not provoke their children. Sorry, but it’s pretty late over this side of the world and I’m basically just throwing out a few thoughts here.
One last thought: I think training and raising children IS something that mothers are especially equipped to do – perhaps the burnout is really and truly due to the “more difficult” approaches to homeschooling than are really necessary? And too much busy-ness and gadding about than is really necessary? ( OK, so there is one point I differ on.)
Regarding fathers and homeschooling,
Absolutely, without a doubt, fathers should take a highly active role in their children’s education. By this I mean more than just a “managerial” role, in which they merely approve the plan and delegate the responsbility. However, how this happens in each family is going to depend on each family, most specifically the gifts brought by each set of parents and the situation they find themselves in when they decide to homeschool.
I totally agree that fathers should take an active role in keeping up the home. After all, aren’t we teaching our children these things, including our sons?
Regarding instruction, much effective learning can take place in less-than-formal settings. I often have my eight-year-old son and five-year-old daughter in the kitchen with me while I’m doing the dishes. We memorize the books of the Bible, states and capitals, Bible verses, and they read out loud from the Bible or from other books they’re reading. We can even go over arithmetic flash cards. We also talk about their day and apply Biblical wisdom to the situations they find themselves in, inside the home and out. This is something we do whenever we possibly can (the car is a great place for this). All of this is valuable education in the Biblical sense (Deut. 6:4-9), even though the mainstream educational community might disagree (even much of the homeschool community might disagree).
Although my dream is to be able to work from the home, I have tried to pry open door after door to make this happen for about 9 years, and so far nothing has opened up. I’m currently an Air Force officer, so I have a busy, unpredictable schedule that often involves being out of town for weeks or months at a time. My wife and I have begun to embrace our time in the Air Force and use the unique opportunities it provides to make that a special part of our children’s education.
In a sense, I agree with you that our society has bowed to industrialization, which itself has torn families apart significantly. However, God can use believers in every avenue of society. Part of our role in the Air Force, we believe, is to be a light to a lost world.
If I have any recommendations for fathers, it’s these:
1. Get involved in your children’s education!
2. In order to make this happen in a way that works in YOUR family, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, and then PRAY some more! You and your wife, individually and together. Don’t use anyone else’s model if it isn’t working in your family. Apply the positive concepts that you can, and let everything else fall by the wayside. The Scriptures are the one thing that every family needs to know, learn, absorb, and apply. After that, if necessary, pray for ingenious and unique ways to meet the Lord’s guidelines and state standards.
I pray that homeschooling fathers everywhere become more active in their homes, families’ lives, and children’s education. I pray that the Lord will bless your prayers and efforts.