I'm a Homeschool Dad - Here's What I Love About It
This was the first week of school.
Well, I mean… actually it wasn’t. Probably not for you. Not for anyone in our school district. Our neighbors have all been in school for three weeks now.
But, we got to hand-pick our summer break schedule and our family’s school year start date!
Why? We’re homeschoolers - part of a growing community of families teaching their kids at home. Growing somewhere between 2%-8% per year, homeschooling may be the fastest-growing form of education in the United States. It’s the best form of education we could find for our 4 kids.
I’m a homeschool dad (one of many), launching into our 6th year teaching our kids from home while also working from home. As such, I have a mixed bag of feelings and experiences with homeschooling and wanted to share, from a dad’s perspective, what I love about being a homeschooling dad in the new millennium.
Homeschooling Means a Better Social Life For My Kids
Public schools here have started loading kids up with homework on day 1 of the school year as early as 2nd grade! That means after that poor 2nd grader already spent 6-7 hours at school, she then has to go home and spend more time studying.
I was homeschooled until 3rd grade, when my pleas to go to “real school” were finally approved. Little did I know that (a) homeschooling is real school and (b) the social life I thought I’d get at “real school” was actually less social than when I was homeschooling. With a longer day spent at school and all the homework, I suddenly found myself with less social time to get together with friends or participate in community/church activities.
Fast forward to 9th grade, when I spent 10-12 hours a day doing school work: 7 hours at my high school and another 3-5 on homework each night. My pleas for “real school” reversed and I switched back to homeschooling for 10th grade.
Homeschooling as a sophomore meant I got school done in 2-3 hours every day, I remembered more of what I was learning, I read for fun on my own 1-3 hours a day, I played on the homeschool co-op’s basketball team, I traveled to Hawaii with our church youth group and I travelled to Oaxaca with an organization that fights mountain erosion and deforestation. My sophomore year kicked my freshman year’s social butt.
Our kids spend 2-3 hours completing their daily coursework and then have the rest of the day free. They use that time to go to the local library with their great grandmother, jump in the pool, learn to code (for fun), write to their own blogs or rest before swim team practice (the rest of the swim team walks up to practice minutes after getting out of class).
Homeschooling Means A Refined, Highly Personalized, Specifically Tuned Education
Six years in we’ve tried a range of homeschool curricula ranging from all-in-one teaching sets, like Abeka, to subject-specific courses like Math-U-See. Ultimately we’re still experimenting and fine-tuning each year depending on what each kid needs.
As a dad I love knowing my kids are getting hyper-specific attention spent on how they learn best and which subjects they need help in vs. which ones they can advance through faster than normal. I’m still in shock at just how decidedly different each of our kids are. I mean, I knew each kid would be their own personality, but our kids are from different corners of the universe. It pays in spades being able to custom-tailor their education to their strengths and patiently walk with them through weaknesses.
I Get To See Them More, Listen to Them More, and Learn From Them More Because We Homeschool
Selfishly, I just love that I get to spend so much time with my kids. They’re amazing tiny humans with shockingly sharp minds, hard questions and the best comedic timing you can find this side of the Mississippi. Being around them more makes me a better human and gives me a deep appreciation for the life I get to live.
They Get To See Me More, Listen to Me More (Hopefully), and Learn From Me More Because We Homeschool
The biggest fear I’ve faced becoming a dad is the inevitability of adolescence and all the stigma surrounding those years.
Thanks to some deeply encouraging (and scientific) words from Dr. Meg Meeker I’m ready and more equipped to help my kids through the teenage years. Dr. Meeker’s research has shown that one of the strongest influences on a kid’s life is how much time they get to spend with their dads (she writes specifically to Dad’s of Daughters, but I’m pretty sure it applies to sons too).
I’m also optimistically believing the 4 word encouragement Jeff Bogle offers dads in the face of all the fear-mongering (I’m no spoiler! You gotta go read his post - What All Dads With Daughters Need To Know - to get the 4 words!).
I know being around my kids more gives me that much bigger a shot to help impact who they become. My goal being they grow up to become the men and women God has called them to be - world changers, fighting for justice, defending the poor and the needy, helping the defenseless and bringing peace and love and grace to every corner of the world they end up in.
I Love Watching My Wife Teach
She’s a natural. She loves on our kids in such a unique way when she’s teaching them. We both spend various amounts of time helping various kids through their lessons, but as I work full time she does the bulk of the hands on, day-to-day teaching. Thank God she does - she’s so good at it! And she gets better at it every year.
Homeschooling as a dad has given me a millionth thing to love about Sam and I’ve cherished watching her bloom and grow into a new skillset as teacher.
So… You Kind Of Like Being A Homeschool Dad?
Ya, so, I guess what I’m saying is - as scary as it was up front to take our kids’ education into our own hands, it’s been beyond worth it.
Note to dads considering homeschooling (or being begged to do it by their wives): I’m the one that asked Sam to consider homeschooling. We prayed through the decision together and she’s glad we decided to homeschool but the big push came from me. Along the way I’ve found some great resources on how dads can get involved in the homeschooling process.
If you’re scared, as a dad, that your kids won’t get the social skills or “real world experience” that standard schools offer, I can confidently tell you that homeschooling is a dad’s dream. Our kids spend exponentially more time at social activities, on sports teams and getting real world experiences than many of their friends.
Keep in mind, I’m a social butterfly. I love being out in crowds of people, doing any and every activity our friends are doing. I’m the guy who begged his parents to go to “real school” and finally got to go 3rd-9th grade and then went back to homeschooling for 2 of the best learning years of my life (10th-11th grade), BUT THEN begged to go back to “real school” for my senior year. I understand the tension between what public/private school seem to offer and what homeschooling seems to achieve. I’ve personally experienced the pros and cons. I don’t want my kids to be socially challenged any more than the next dad.
And that’s why I’m a homeschool dad: it’s the best way I’ve found to help my kids become the best version of themselves and get the most out of life, learning, and friendships.