Mangled Schedules and Grateful Hearts
- Friday, November 06, 2009
"Are you finished with school? Want to ride with me to the dump?" my husband Donald inquired, poking his head into the schoolroom. Pencils flew everywhere as the boys jumped up, ready to go. We hadn't finished school, of course, but they were taking off to enjoy another type of education—how to be a man.
From the very first year we started schooling, a big part of my education was learning to loosely hold the schedule and plans I so carefully crafted at the beginning of the year. Left to myself, I tend to be overly fond of a structured routine and sometimes find myself overlooking a greater good in pursuit of maintaining the schedule. Fortunately, my dear husband was faithful in wanting to share in the boys' lives, and he persisted even when I didn't see the value of what he offered.
I've heard many homeschool moms talk about wanting their husbands to share in the homeschooling process, but when Dad does participate, these same moms aren't happy with what he does or how he does it. I've heard all sorts of complaints, and when one mom starts, others usually join in. Recently, I caught portions of a conversation in which a group of moms swapped horror stories about what their husbands had done to mess up the school day.
"Can you believe he took the boys outside to fool around with car parts when they hadn't even finished their math?"
"He said he was going to help with their history this year, and all he does is take them to his grandma's house and let them play in the barn and the attic!"
"I bought a science kit so we could do an experiment every week, but since my husband took over teaching science, they haven't done any of the experiments out of the book. They just play with the stuff in the kit. I don't know if they're going to learn anything, and they make such a terrible mess!"
That conversation brought back memories of my childhood and my mother's dismay at some of the things my father chose to do with me. She was often horrified to find that I'd been on the garage roof "helping" to set the weather vane, over in the garden digging for sow bugs, or in the machine shop playing with the pretty, curly metal shavings from the lathe. She was appalled that Daddy had stopped to help someone change a tire on the freeway while I was with him (we could have been killed!). Needless to say, Daddy and I often came home tired and grubby, but we had such fun.
What stands out to me is the fact that my mother saw only the danger, the wasted time, or the very dirty dresses, while I remember the joy and sweetness of the shared time, the deep conversations about the Lord, and the close relationship my father took time to build with me. Because of these childhood memories, I realized fairly early in our homeschool journey that my husband could provide the boys with things I couldn't offer, and I tried, with varying degrees of success, to keep a place of honor open for him in our homeschool. I wasn't always immediately gracious about an upset schedule or a postponed lesson, but when I remembered to focus on the ultimate goal of our schooling, I was able to rest in my husband's choices.
Let me share three things I wish I'd known about husbands and homeschooling when we first began.
1.) No matter what subject your husband offers to teach, he will not be doing it your way. This is okay. My husband's interests and natural abilities are different from mine, and my boys needed his input. He would never offer to teach literary analysis, but his quiet, steady logic encourages analytical thinking. He doesn't schedule his life, but his boys can observe his awareness of things that need to be done and his gracious, proactive meeting of the family's needs. It's good for children to see that there is more than one way to approach life and learning, and they will learn a lot from your respect of your husband's approach.
2.) Schedules and routines are a good foundation, but it takes a lot more than rigid adherence to a schedule to become a loving, well-rounded human. I can't tell you how often I've seen schedule take precedence over relationship, and I believe that's wrong. There are dozens of verses in scripture about building relationships, showing love, being kind, patient, and forbearing, but I find nothing that encourages us to place a schedule before the heart-needs of our family. Instead, we are admonished to say, "Lord willing" when we make plans, indicating that our time is in the Lord's hands (James 4:13-15).
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