Where is Dad - Part I
- Friday, June 06, 2003
As homeschoolers, we have all taken a bold and courageous step in making the decision to educate our children at home.
Why do we say this? Just consider the numbers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were estimated to be just under 70 million students enrolled in schools across America in the fall of 2002.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Education completed a study in which it estimated approximately 800,000 children are educated in the home across our country. We agree with Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute that this estimate is extremely low. There are probably closer to 2 million homeschoolers in the United States. In either case, that represents merely 1 to 3 percent (at best) of the total school-age population.
To buck against that kind of a base requires some serious thought, intention, and convictions. Our experience is that most homeschooling parents take their role as educators very seriously. But frankly, we also see that the weight of the burden in actually "carrying the ball" with this homeschooling job is primarily on Mom.
So where is Dad?
It's not our aim here to ask this question as an exercise in placing any blame or guilt. To the contrary, we hope to establish some positive thoughts that will encourage us all that Dad's role, while certainly critical, doesn't always have to be front-and-center.
At this moment, in our home, Dad is definitely under a lot of pressure and stress. Those who know us know that we struggle at times with finances. David has the uncanny ability to bounce from one career crisis to another. It's not that he doesn't work hard; far from it. He works nonstop. He just doesn't seem to be able to always put enough money in the bank all the time, practically speaking.
But we suppose this is quite common. It takes a lot of concentrated effort to provide for a family in 21st century America. By far, the vast majority of homeschooling families have made a decision to live on one income. Who is going to provide that income? Usually the dad. (We know there is an occasional mom who is gifted with a talent or career that allows Dad to stay home and raise the children. But that's probably only a few out of hundreds of cases. Most of the time, it is the father who "brings home the bacon.") So we will focus on Dad's role here. If it is reversed in your home, just switch the thoughts accordingly.
There are some telling studies that rule just how successful homeschooling dads are in providing for the home. To start with, we'll state the obvious here. Many homeschoolers believe that the Lord is our Provider. Ultimately, it is God who gives and takes away. But from a practical standpoint, someone has to work. And homeschooling dads do work - and work hard - in order for moms and children to learn at home.
According to The Scholastic Achievement and Demographic Characteristics of Home School Students in 1998, an independent study by Lawrence M. Rudner, Ph.D., director of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation (accessed through the HSLDA/NCHE website), more than 75 percent of homeschooling families live on a single income, and over 93 percent have more than $35,000 in annual income, compared to only 50 percent of families nationwide.
One clear reason for this is that more than 65 percent of homeschooling dads have at least a bachelor's degree. They already have proven that they believe in education!
However, there is also another interesting statistic on the size of homeschool households. More than 90 percent of homeschooling families have at least two children, compared to just over 50 percent of our country's families. And more than 30 percent have four or more! The point here is that not only does Dad work, but he also has to provide for a big family of six or more in many cases. So he's staying very busy.
So where is Dad? Well, frankly he's working a lot. If he's able, he may work at home, in a home office, like David does. The point is that even though Dad may be nearby, he's hard at work.
This is a good thing for the children to learn. Dad's who are industrious, diligent, and responsible lay tremendous groundwork in their children to do likewise. The role model of a working father is a fantastic example to have our children observe.
David and Laurie Callihan are authors of The Guidance Manual for the Christian Home School: A Parent's Guide for Preparing Home School Students for College or Career, and the brand new Christian Homeschool Daily Planner (with their Grand Plan built right in). Learn more at www.davidandlaurie.com. They are regular columnists on Crosswalk's High School page.
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