Questions and Answers
A good while ago I went onto one of my favorite homeschool mom Facebook pages and with all hope of getting over a bit of writer’s block asked them this question: If you are a homeschool mom who is feeling depressed or overwhelmed and were to sit down with someone who has been there to pick her brain, what questions would you ask?
Boy did I get some great feedback…
…and then my husband started a business.
Needless to say, I got sidetracked. Turns out that, at least for one of the questions, it was the time I needed to gather an answer together.
Getting your spouse involved in your homeschool
Among other things she wanted some “tips on getting your spouse involved.”
When I first read that I didn’t know how I was possibly going to answer that. My husband and I work together in our homeschool, I am more the teacher and he’s more the principal. That isn’t a complete answer either, of course, he teaches things that I can’t seem to get them to understand etc. A second viewpoint seems to help when the kids are stuck. That still isn’t a complete answer though, I would never want to make it out as if my husband is not a partner in our homeschooling journey. My answer needed revamping so that it was more accurate.
In the course of the last few weeks, I’ve had time to really gather my thoughts on this. We have never actually sat down and said “ok dear, your job is ___________, and my job is __________.” We work it together, we take up each other’s slack, and in the last several years, in particular, we’ve come up with an accountability system that is making our homeschool run more smoothly.
Here’s the other thing. Things kind of fell into place for us through the years. If I had it to do all over again, I would have liked a little of the knowledge I have now. It might have helped, probably would have helped… There is a learning curve, some lessons just have to be learned the hard way. However, my mom friend asked for tips, that I can do.
The Tips – to get you started
- Do talk about it. Set some areas of responsibility. Traditionally, mom is teacher and dad is the principal. Set your major areas, but don’t be so stuck in them that you miss something. In our home, I do most of the teaching of school subjects, but my husband is much better at math than I am so if I’m not getting through to the kids they often go to dad, between the two of us, (and dive cd’s) we can usually get the kids to understand the concept in question.
- Remember that learning comes from more than just books. Honestly, I believe some of the best education we have given our children comes from just being present and living life. It is not so horrible, in fact, I think it is a plus, that mom and dad don’t know everything. Guess what. Teachers don’t either. But the kids have seen me search for information and LEARN along with them. That teaches them how to do the same.
- Don’t forget the extracurriculars. In a recent conversation, there was some discussion as to why some kids tend to get into a lot of trouble and others do not. I believe it comes down to time. Our kids don’t have a lot of time to “run the streets” as we put it, they don’t have copious amounts of online time, and we do spend time with our kids at their activities. We are involved, at every opportunity. Yes, they still have gotten into trouble, but not near as much as they could if we just didn’t spend so much time with them. Do not confuse this with not letting your kids have time to just be kids. They need time to play outside with their imaginations and just BE kids.
- Sometimes, getting your spouse involved means you spend the time during the day teaching and dad spends his time doing the extras. As I’ve stated I think activities are important. We have pretty much whittled it down to one family sport (competition shooting) and a few smaller activities (little flowers and alter serving) along with job opportunities when they are older (ranch hand and babysitting). I do the teaching and smaller activities, Dad does most of the competition shooting.
- Because dads usually work outside the home, they don’t have the opportunity to be hands-on involved in the actual school work. My children spend a good amount of time in the garage or yard with dad, yes even the girls. Life skills. Time with dad doing something constructive, sometimes it’s practical, sometimes it’s just for fun. Don’t forget that your goal here is to not only teach your children the 3 R’s, but to train them, give them experiences to draw from, and life skills. At least I hope that is your goal.
My gratitude – Clarity
It isn’t as if I didn’t appreciate and understand how my husband is involved in our homeschool, it’s more like I took it for granted. Like there was a disconnect. It’s because of the word “homeschool”. I realized that we are still ingrained to separate “school” from the “training” of our children. The beautiful thing about “homeschooling” is that every thing you do is “homeschooling”. Every moment you or your spouse spends with your children is training them to be self-sufficient, capable, selfless, WHOLE human beings. It’s ALL homeschooling.
Here is a partial list of “jobs” that come with homeschooling. Have a discussion with your spouse and see which ones each of you are more suited to do.
You can see this as kind of a tongue in cheek list… but it’s important. It’s likely that you and your spouse will share a lot of the jobs on this list, but when you at least talk about it first it won’t take you as long to get in the groove. It will also help when you get stuck in the ruts.
Have the discussion, make your plan, then be ready to change it. Ask for help when you need it, if your spouse can’t help, get in touch with a homeschool co-op or even just one other homeschool mom. Remember that your choice to homeschool came with some pretty big reasons, no one I know takes this lightly. Try and remember those reasons when it gets hard.
Write it down
Each year at the beginning of the year, at least for the last several, I have tried to write down a few things that I will need to refer to during the year.
- My reasons to homeschool, this year. I say “this year” because while the reasons I started will always be good to recall as well, the reasons I continue, change from year to year.
- Outline your jobs list that we discussed above. Just a rough draft. Sometimes if things are not working well, it does some good to go over that again and see if you (and your spouse) can revamp that a little.
- Your goals for the year. Some people really get into detail with this. I just try and pick 3 major things I want to improve from the previous years. I try to include attitude adjustments in here. I learned a long time ago that I have as many of those to work on as the kids, so I try to make sure we are working on them together.
Some moms also write down education goals for each kid. I use a full and complete curriculum, that I trust, so the basic understanding is that if we finish the curriculum, we have accomplished our education goals. Simple, but effective for me.
- Any “extras” that you want to fit in for the year. Sports, activities, or maybe a unit study lesson on a subject that interests your kids but is not covered in your curriculum – or not covered enough.
- A basic outline of planned events that might take you away from school. This year, I’m going to become a grandma, while I expect the kids will continue school while I’m away helping, I also know they probably won’t get it all done as they would if I’m right here. We also have competitions that last more than a day, and of course Christmas etc. This is good because it gives you something to look forward to on those really long days.
- If you inclined to use incentives, write down your ideas now. It is more difficult to come up with something off the top of my head when a kid is giving me a hard time with lessons or completing work. It is also helpful to come up with “levels”. For instance, if I just think they need a little push to finish the work for the day – something they should do anyway, I have some little dollar store toys the little ones can “pick from” if they get it done. If they need to work on something that takes days or weeks they might get to pick a movie when they get done or take a trip to the dollar store with five bucks to spend. If it’s something that I think will really take effort, and is more difficult I might agree to take them to the book store or a movie.
Ok, so that turned into the long rather than the short of it. I think it will at least give some ideas or “tips” as was asked of me. If you have tips to add for getting the spouse involved in the homeschool please feel free to put them in the comments. I look forward to reading them.