Our homeschool is undergoing the same mid-year evaluation and refocus that many of you are experiencing. My family moved twice this year within a four month time span and we got settled in our new place just in time for the holidays. November – January is my absolute favorite time of the year but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a tiny relieved to see life settle into a more ‘normal’ rhythm around here! Having the chance to take a step back for a bit it’s clear to me the area of our homeschool I’ve been a bit negligent with is making sure my husband is a valued and welcome part of the home education of our boys.
My own frustrations, feelings of failure and perceived inadequacies had caused me to shy away from any sort of education-related conversation with my guy. To be honest, I was afraid of what he might say were I to make myself vulnerable enough to bring it up. I’d love if God would go ahead and take this particular conviction away but I can’t seem to shake it….so I suppose it’s time to heed, no? My words to you today are on some of the steps I’ve taken in the past to be on the same page with my husband, and will be bringing back into practice in the days and weeks to come. Maybe if you feel challenged in this area as well we can encourage and pray for one another along the way?
- • Family Purpose – My post to you all in May touched on the importance of truly knowing your reasons and convictions for bringing your children home. To have a firm grasp on your short & long term goals as a family of home educators. I was given a list of questions to ask of myself in a seminar and we were challenged to ask our spouses the same things in order to develop our family purpose statement and start off with a focused set of ideals.
- Why are we homeschooling?
- What do we want our kids to be like when they leave our home?
- What is important to our family?
- What is our family identity? What makes our family different?
- What kinds of things would we like to see our kids do in their homes?
It was four years ago that I first asked my husband these questions and I think it’s the perfect time to ask again. Perhaps these simple questions might also help you and your spouse become a more united front!
- • Housework – Another thing I’d encourage you to do is be brave and humble enough to ask your husband the three things that bug or stress him the most when he walks in the door. My husband can’t stand walking into our kitchen to find a sink full of dirty dishes but I could pile four baskets of unfolded laundry in the living room and he wouldn’t even notice it. I’m sure so many of you can relate, but it seems that no matter how hard I try, I can’t accomplish everything I’d like in any one given day. If I think ahead to defrost something for dinner, start the laundry, work through a complete day of studies with the kids, make the bed and keep everyone fed at regular intervals I probably wont have exercised, swept the kitchen floor, or started filing the ever growing mass of papers on my desk. While I may not be able to do everything each day, I can certainly make the effort to focus on the tasks that are most important to my husband. The first time I asked I was truly baffled at my guy’s responses and how easy it really was to give him a measure of peace and comfort by making the few issues that most irked him, a priority in my day.
- • Lessons – Find out how much he wants to be involved in the day-to-day coursework. My husband doesn’t particularly have the patience to work through math and grammar and writing, but his little-boy eyes light up at the thought of science experiments and even art projects. You might be amazed at how well your particular teaching strengths compliment one another! Make use of them!
- • When Issues Arise – My husband and I have inevitably had our differences about what is/isn’t particularly necessary to teach, what ‘standards’ or milestones we do/don’t feel each of the kids should have down at a given age, or even what books/tools/supplies one feels they must have while the other finds them extravagant and/or unnecessary. (Can you guess which stance I usually take in that particular issue?? Hehe….but I digress….) I can honestly say that this one point is, hands down, the most difficult for me and probably will be until the day I die. I don’t want to be challenged or questioned. It doesn’t give me warm fuzzies to feel like I’m missing the mark in some area and have to defend my position as the boys’ primary educator….and it’s my haughty pride that causes our biggest homeschool/husband-wife arguments. So I hope you’ll understand that it is as much an admonition to myself as a piece of advice to you when I encourage you to step out in patient faith; to give him the opportunity to voice his concerns with a heartfelt willingness to listen to what he has to say. Your conversations will not be in any way productive if you cannot show him enough respect to hear him out, I promise. He may not see work being done, or realize you’ve already recognized something he’s worried about. And in the moments I’m being honest with myself, there’s often great benefit to be had from a frequent dialog be it on good days or bad. He may have a helpful suggestion or fresh perspective that can be just the ticket for any number of daily struggles. Bottom line, we need to trust that he loves our kids enough to appreciate their individual strengths and weaknesses, and to show enough reverence for the men in our lives to recognize their heartfelt desire to see our children do their very best!