One of the most frequent questions I get is ‘How do I get my partner on board with homeschooling?’ Most commonly it’s the Mother trying to convince the Father, honestly. I often think it would be helpful for those Dads who are feeling uncertain to talk to someone who has been there. And so, a guest post today from the awesome Father in our family. From one Dad to another…
So you’re being challenged to take your kids out of school and to do it yourself. You are picturing a classroom at home, with a blackboard on the wall, and desks in your living room. You are stressing about the conversations with people at work or with your family about how your kids are going at school… and the uncomfortable moment you tell them you homeschool.
I get it. I bet you were like me, just had some notion in your head that school was just what people did and there wasn’t any alternative.
It’s not normal and it will make people ask questions you probably feel uncomfortable answering, most likely because you don’t really have all the answers yourself. Deep down you know that it’s the right thing to do even if you don’t really know why, but you have too many unknowns to really allow you to make the call. Maybe you’ve even been stonewalling your partner for a while now, stubbornly saying no without any real reason why other than the “it worked for me” retort…but we both know that’s a cop-out.
If the only reason you’re not homeschooling is because of public perception, then that’s not good enough. Unless you bring research to the table that clearly demonstrates that your stubborn position trumps the decision to homeschool, then why should you get a say? That’s how the conversation went for us, and with good reason.
So let’s nut it out, one father to another. Let’s put aside the bullshit and worry about what people might say to you, and actually look at the reality of the situation. This is why you should homeschool your kids. Like right now.
#1 Life can’t be taught in a fish tank
As much as schools will try to argue that they offer kids the best chance at success in their lives, their definition of success is decided by politicians and policymakers that are charged with managing the herd and not individuals. This means that the curriculum will change based on a lot of different factors of which you will have absolutely no control over.
Your job is to look after the best interests of your child and there is not one single better person to continue the development of a child than their parent – you already did it from birth!
Consider the possibilities of giving your child uninterrupted opportunities to follow their interests and passions, using their endless energy and curiosity to find meaning without being restricted to standardised testing, strict schedules, and unnecessary social standards.
Think hard. How much did you learn from school that you actually can remember and/or apply in your job now? Bet you can count it all on one hand. Or one finger.
How can you give your child the best and most uninterrupted access to life if they are stuck in a fishbowl for 8 hours a day?
Mate, it’s quite simple. If every business that’s worth a damn is trying to provide flexible working conditions to attract innovative, creative, and passionate employees…then why would you think that a sterile education system will set them up for success?
#2 Life isn’t a classroom of desks facing a blackboard
I can hear the educators screaming at me now – “classrooms don’t look like that anymore”. Okay. Sure. Whatever.
Did you picture a homeschooling household with desks, worksheets, and you or your partner standing in front of your kids? Well if that’s the case, then I’m here to open your eyes because that just ain’t the case. If that was homeschooling, then you may as well just send your kids to school and be done with it.
Homeschooling is whatever you and your kids need it to be. It’s talking about money and banking at 6am; it’s making a table from scratch and a shopping spree at Bunnings for all the materials; it’s creating your own documentary to send to your biggest wildlife idol; it’s ballet classes… it’s endless and it’s flexible. There is no curriculum and there are no tests, and yet you’ll find they are learning more new things and retaining the knowledge because the connection to the new material is relevant and compelling.
It’s the freedom to develop your own path in life without having external forces dictate the path to success – life is not only about education, home ownership, wealth and holidays…unless you want it to be. The key is that your child can choose what they want, and it’s up to them to make it happen.
#3 You get to choose every and any flavour, not just vanilla
Unless it’s broken, don’t try to fix it. You’re thinking that you’ll just send the kids to school to see how they go, and unless they’re really unhappy or not getting anything out of it then there is no point bucking the system.
You can’t see me here but if you could, you’ll see me shaking my head with obvious disapproval.
Dude. You’re taking the easy way out, trying to buy some time in the hope that this challenge on your belief systems will just go away. Maybe your partner will see reason and come around to seeing what you can see, school isn’t so bad and the kids will just love it.
Here is the thing mate, school shouldn’t be the default. Sure, there are some things that kids will enjoy, and I certainly remember parts of school that I enjoyed… but here is the kicker: None of those things are exclusive to the school environment. Time with friends, sport, music, exposure to different cultures and ideas… all of these things are available and more meaningful out in the real world AND you have more time to do more of these things.
So now I’ll challenge you on this. If you’ve tried school already “to see how it goes” then it’s time to try homeschooling. If you haven’t tried school, you don’t actually need to. You don’t need an ‘excuse’ to homeschool. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
#4 Deeper connection with your kids
Not rocket science this one. You spend so much time with babies and toddlers, and yet when they hit 4 or 5 years old it’s a societal norm to send them off to some random place to “learn” things that apparently can’t be learned elsewhere. This leaves you the morning rush or the late afternoon/early evening witching hour to connect with your kids, when apparently no learning can or will occur. Of course, at this time you are pretty spent as well, long day at work… mind and body needing a rest. You’re probably keen to get the kids feed and bathed, into bed, ready to put your feet up. I guess you’ll just connect with the kids on the weekend…
Sure this doesn’t change when you homeschool. I still feel braindead when I get home and I surely look forward to putting my feet up, but guess what – there is no after school rush pick up. The kids aren’t fried and exhausted from school. They aren’t picking up every single illness that spreads like wildfire through schools. They are happy, jubilant, and excited about life… ready to show you their projects, their investigations, their discoveries. There is no homework.
Holidays can happen anytime. Any place. No peak periods to worry about. No fighting the crowds. No concerns over negotiating leave periods with other people at work. It’s awesome.
#5 You provide the best environment for positive social interactions
Don’t get all old-school on me. Don’t give me this “rite of passage” crap. Do not tell me that kids need to learn to deal with bullies. It’s not true and your argument has no merit.
If the schooling system had a handle on bullying, then it wouldn’t happen. They don’t, and it does. The effects make me nauseous. Unless you’ve been on the receiving end then you don’t know. I have, and I do know.
No workplace allows bullying or harassment of any nature. Period.
If a workplace doesn’t have a good culture, then employees don’t stay long and the employer doesn’t attract good workers.
If a workplace doesn’t handle bullying and harassment well, then an employee can leave. We all agree, life is too short for that crap and no one should need to put up with anything that makes them feel unwanted or belittled.
So why the eff is it so bloody mandatory that kids have to put up with this and apparently use the experience to make them more rounded, balanced people. What utter garbage.
Dude the simple fact of the matter is that you want your child to grow up to be strong in mind, body, and soul, and to treat the world with the respect and humility. So don’t outsource that, take the lead.
#6 You demonstrate to your kids that they can take charge of their own destiny
Challenge the status quo. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right. If you want something bad enough, and you work hard for it, it’ll happen.
How many times have you heard these lines? So why can’t this be applied to this situation; are you really that blind to your options, or are you ignoring what’s in front of you and are too scared to take the plunge?
Time to dive in my man. If you can’t show your kids how to take a leap of faith and to trust your gut, who else can they learn that from?
I wonder if you are where I think you are – right on the verge of making the decision to do it. I’ve been there and it’s hard to make the call, but once you make it you will quickly realise how cool it is. I get it though mate, you’ll feel under the spotlight from your friends and family. It might challenge other people on their own beliefs, make them insecure about their own decisions. But your role isn’t to please them or to make them feel bad. Your role is to your child and your family.
What’s the worst that could happen? Schools aren’t going anywhere, think of this as a long holiday… and I bet you won’t go back.