So Your Partner Doesn’t Want to Homeschool? This Is For You
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.
Good work Dad! Great post. There will be a lot of men out there reading this and hopefully challenging themselves to make a decision they are uncomfortable with. I hope this inspires them
As a fellow dad of unschooled kids, I confess that people will on occasion give you meaningful glances–over an apparently harmless statement or question about your kids’ education. Glances that obviously are meant to imply that you should be very, very concerned about this non-standard thing your kids are doing, (unschooling). I’m happy to report however, that this has only happened a very few times for us.
The more common thing, at least for me, are entertaining questions from non-homeschoolers, but those are just fun. Things like looking with great consternation at the pack consisting of then 1 year-old No. 3, 3 year-old No. 2, and 4 year-old No. 1 wandering around beside us and asking, “Are those your kids?” Followed immediately by “Should they be in school?” Apparently the only safe-kid, (I was unclear, but I’m pretty sure the safety the gentleman was concerned about was his own, not the kids’), is a well corralled kid.
Then there was the time a concerned citizen called in a possible bomb threat. “There’s a bearded man with a large package concealed under his hoodie.” The package was 8 month old No. 1 snugged into her Moby for a walk. The policeman went from terrified to baffled as the situation unfurled on the grounds of a national laboratory.
You get a whole lot of “those kids are too cold,” “too warm,” or “their shoes are on the ‘wrong’ feet.” The simple and proud answer, “They dressed themselves!” never seems to suffice. The perhaps more true answer of “Well, we got out of the house 15 minutes earlier because I did me while they did them.” rarely works, and eventually you might just end up at, “Oh, hunh, thanks for pointing that out.”
Once we received a standing ovation, as we were sung to. A group of 20 or Chinese tourists who had amassed on the sidewalk in front of us parted like the Red Sea to let us get through as they cheered and sang. I have yet to figure out what that was all about.
I’ve found advantages that I wouldn’t have initially expected from homeschooling as well. For one, we’re more closely integrated with our community than we otherwise would have been. A few years ago when I asked then 4 year-old 1 who she wanted to invite to Thanksgiving, I expected an answer that involved perhaps a grandparent, or an uncle. Instead she responded that she wanted to invite two of her friends, the brothers who own our nearby convenience store.
Our kids have friends of all ages in almost every section of town. I think it’s due in large part to them actually being out and about in town as opposed to being sequestered behind four walls. In fact, I meet new friends all the time because of the kids. People frequently introduce themselves to me when I’m not with the kids, remarking that they ride the bus with my kids.
Our kids are even learning how to bandy about frivolities at bars a few years earlier than they otherwise might! A few months ago when we trekked to a nearby state to watch the solar eclipse, six year-old No. 1 ventured from our table in the cafe to the bar on the other side of the building, bellied up, and asked for a glass of water. When one of the patrons asked if she’d be buying the next round she replied that she couldn’t as she had no money because she’d worn tights that day with no pockets. We had no idea what had transpired until a few minutes later the establishment’s proprietor appeared to enquire if it would be OK if the man at the bar bought 1 and her sibs a round of ice cream. That’s when 1 told us about her conversation. The kids enjoyed the ice cream she had finagled for them, we bought a round of drinks for the bar, and a great time was had by all!
I *love* these stories!
THANK YOU. Sending to husband now. Great points! Thanks for taking the time to help others.
Thank you for these encouraging and helpful words. I’m currently (privately) debating the home school question and reading this has given me more to consider as I make this important decision regarding my children’s schooling future.
You give really good points, man. The problem is that it’s cost so much more to homeschool. With public schooling, the kids go off, learn, come back, and all for free. But with homeschooling, you have to pay for way more supplies and books and all that crap. For school all you have to pay for is supplies. And with what you said about holidays and experiencing things, you have to pay a lot for these things. Growing up, my parents never could’ve afforded homeschooling and we can’t now either. Price isn’t the only issue – we’ve talked about homeschooling but my kids are completely against it. They like school, and would hate staying home all day learning with family instead of friends. I’m glad to see it works for you, but homeschooling just isn’t that simple. Public school is default for a reason. Just not everyone is qualified to homeschool.
On the contrary- homeschooling can be virtually free…if you make it that way 😉
Homeschooling is Free. Public Libraries are free. There are free or subsidized programs for homeschoolers at most museums and national parks. Other than paying for internet access which you obviously have anyway, you can get anything you need. : )
What about the loss of income. I am seperated from my kids mom and pay child support as well as everything I have left over is also given to them. But it takes her income as well to keep a roof over their heads and food in their mouths. Neither of us graduated college and I work 65 hrs a week already just for us to keep afloat. I fear her anxiety issues are her motivation for homeschooling. She already lives in government housing. Do you all think this is really possible for her, for the kids. She would have to quit her job. Please help me see why this is a good idea because right now I just can’t.
My husband is totally against homeschooling. His reason is that we both are not native speakers. Even, my speaking and writing are good enough to do it, he says that kids are gone miss American culture. He said that the only place they can learn the culture is school and I am really against the school. Any thoughts?
My hardest part with trying to convince my husband –is he is concerned about socialization…and doesn’t want them to be awkward …I get it but there’s many opportunities to do various “socialization”