Dads: Orchestrating the Homeschool
- 2008 7 Nov
As a boy, I remember watching television with my grandmother and listening with fascination to Arthur Fiedler leading the Boston Pops. My grandmother was a librarian in the music department of an old Carnegie library. I would watch the conductor walk to the rostrum, and all the tuning of instruments stopped. He took a slight bow and tapped the desk with his baton. All eyes were on him. He lifted the baton, and as a painter strokes the canvas, Arthur Fiedler created pictures with sound.
On that old television program, weeks of practice and years of training culminated in beauty. When all those people worked together, they created a harmony under the direction of one key person who did not even have an instrument. In the same way, Dad sets the rhythm and tone of the home.
Communicating the Song We Are to Play
This truth became quite apparent to me several weeks ago. I had received yet another phone call at the office during which I had to put on my principal hat. My wife needed my help in a situation. Mind you, if the teacher calls the principal, the first step for the principal is listening with the right heart. I may not always be in the frame of mind to do so, but I must realize that when my wife calls, I can either help or hinder her spirit by my response. This then has a ripple effect on the home. The same is true in other situations. Dads, the attitude with which we walk in the front door will be the attitude for the home that evening. A bad day at the office need not transfer to a bad evening at home.
The teacher-to-principal phone call was to deal with a child who was having issues at the moment. At home we had been having a recurrence of problems with organization, discipline, and discipleship. My wife and I were both getting tired of the ongoing issues. Things were not really bad, but we longed for greater character in our kids. They were slow to finish assignments and chores. We had fallen into inconsistency in how we handled discipline issues and therefore discipleship. At this rate of digress, we anticipated problems down the road. It was becoming clear that these were matters that went beyond the academics of homeschooling—they were matters of the heart. It was time for a meeting.
That night we had one of those homeschool discussions that, quite frankly, most dads avoid. These do not have to be boring or tedious. My wife and I have grown together through the ongoing communication process. It has taken time, but I now greatly enjoy these meetings. The way in which we listen to our wives can also set the tone for our marriages. Most divorces begin when communication starts to break down. It should be noteworthy that most marriages begin to heal as communication returns. Since my wife has learned how my thought processes work, she gave me the bottom-line facts. I asked for clarification on details. We agreed to pray and seek wisdom for the challenges at hand.
Finding the Solution
While seeking a Biblical solution, the next morning I found my way to Malachi 2:14-15. Here, God speaks of how the husband treats the wife and of God’s desire for godly offspring. God was telling me that if things were to improve around the home, I first needed to change. It was my responsibility before God. Just like Adam in the Garden, I would have to give an account for leading my family. That day and that evening, I had to take time to repent of issues and make confession to my wife. I needed to listen to her and gather information.
To set the tone of the home, I need to know what song we are to play and what instruments I have to work with. The song comes from God, and throughout Scripture we can find the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs we ought to be performing. We have four great kids. Each of them in their distinct personalities resembles a different instrument for the song. For the home to sing, we need to showcase the best of each person’s talents. My wife is the best source I have for finding out what each instrument can do.
As my wife talked with me, it became more apparent that the issues our children were having were simply manifestations of things we both found in our character, both good and bad. This was supported by what I had learned in my time with God. So we came up with a plan in which I would take a greater role than previously and look to give the glory to God.
We needed to cover who would play what instrument. My wife is the teacher, I am the organizer. We discussed each child’s abilities and strengths, as well as areas for improvement. Then I listened to her schedule and found where several things could be condensed and others delegated. To help her out with her schedule, I simply had to set it in my mind to assist either her or the kids with chores each day. Sometime it’s laundry or cooking. But it is amazing to see how, when dad does these things, the children will do them too.
Sounding the Key Note
Sometimes you have heard a singer ask for a note to be struck so she can get on key. We too needed that. All our players had to be in tune and find the right key for our harmony. The first thing we did as a family was to sit down to a meal. Dinnertime seems to present an atmosphere for listening and sharing. We shared with the kids how Dad had not always spoken to Mom in an appropriate manner. This was to stop, for everyone. We also set forth standards for when work would be turned in, how many warnings on things would be given, and the results of disobedience. This is akin to the conductor providing the orchestra with the music they are to play.
When we set these standards, we also explained why we had chosen them. These standards find their basis in the scriptures and are all for the glory of God. We did not present them simply as rules of conduct. Instead, we shared the principle and echo effect they create when they resonate from the heart.
The Big Performance
Just as the conductor keeps the tempo of the orchestra, Dad needs to be consistent in judgment, discipleship, and standards of what is acceptable. As my wife and I both kept to the charts we had made of schedules and disciplines, we found that the children became more reluctant to manipulate situations. Within days, they saw that our word was going to be kept and that it was pointless to debate. (Honestly, things still get called into question, but we have had dramatic improvement.) When our children violated a standard, a privilege would be taken away. If they appealed to me, I would consult my wife and abide with her ruling.
With deadlines set, clearly marked standards set before the kids, and most importantly, an attitude of doing all for the glory of God, we are beginning to see great achievement. One of our boys, who hated writing and reading, has now become a connoisseur of stories. Previously, if I had a discipling phone call, it would be due to him most of the time. Now, he calls me to say that he is finished and ask when I will be home. He writes with joy and is reading almost twice as many books, most by his own choosing. As a matter of fact, we haven’t had one day of him being obstinate toward the classes he used to despise. The child who used to drag school till dinnertime on Friday is now finishing up before lunch that day. All in all, it seems as if we have found a breakthrough. And what a joy it is!
Nowadays, when I come home and help Mom or the kids with their responsibilities list, we see something amazing come over them. Just as a kettle drum gives bass for the viola, the children shift from competition to appreciativeness. We see thankfulness in them. A harmonic peace resonates in the home. They even become motivated to help their siblings! I have been amazed at how much time this opens up for us to do fun things with them, to have quality time. Figuratively, it removes the static of chaos, which made our home sound like an old transistor radio, to give live performance clarity.
It’s not easy to have a hard day at the office and arrive home to walk into homeschool mode. It’s a song I would rather replace at times with the hum of a table saw. But we have found the crescendo of accomplishment to be helpful in this transition. We keep in mind the goals of character and education that we have set before us, for the kids, and the glory of God.
The song our home now plays is one of greater harmony. We see our kids having a greater love for God and character. It is amazing how much more free time has been afforded us. There is less whining and more talking. Teacher-principal relations have never been better.
A Summary of All I Have Learned
• The Bible gives us the best wisdom for parenting.
• “Do as I say not as I do” is a fatal mistake; Isaac and Jacob learned to lie from Abraham.
• Seeking forgiveness can win a heart.
• Lead by example, and they will follow.
• Goals and values need to be clear, understood, and agreed upon.
• Consistency breeds order.
• My marriage thrives, and thus my family, when I learn from my wife.
• Setbacks will happen; do not let them discourage you or the home. Teach your children the proper way to accept difficulty, and fewer sour notes will sound.
For consideration, here is a list of things, under Dad’s direction, that can have an outstanding impact on the tone of the home.
• How much TV and video game time is allowed.
• Who does what chores.
• How the family treats the Sabbath.
• How we show respect to Mom and each other.
• What you say about money and resources—this sets a child’s value system towards these things.
• Finding their father praying, or better yet praying with them.
• How the daughters (or sons) dress. What clothing standards are allowed.
• What forms of entertainment are acceptable. Should kids really play “Kill the Enemy II” and then be expected to treat others with respect?
• Bedtimes and the use of free time.
Now, not every day is without a sour note, but we are at least making music. We are singing to the Lord a new song. As I said earlier, weeks of practice and years of training culminated in beauty with the Boston Pops. We too create a symphony to the praise of God when we raise our kids, and Dad sets the tone for the home.
Husband, Dad, Pastor, Principal are just a few of the hats Wes Pinkley wears everyday. When he is not wearing one of these he can be found either working with wood creating new items, or deep within a book. Wes pastors Holiday Shores Baptist Church, just outside St. Louis. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was originally published in the Sep/Oct ’08 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more great homeschool help, download our FREE report—The Secret to Homeschooling Freedom! Click here to download: http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com/resources/report.htm