In my last post, we looked at the first unique contribution that we dads can make. We dads can encourage our wives and kids (the proverbial players on the team). This should often be our first step, but it should never be our only step. We should go on to evaluate the homeschool procedures.
A Sad Story
At the end of my eldest son’s first-grade year, my wife and I were talking about curricula. There was one curriculum that she had not yet finished, and she was wondering if it would be OK to skip it. She got a lot of advice from a lot of people, but none of it seemed to jive with our education philosophy. That is, what seemed to motivate the otherwise good advice didn’t make sense to us.
Honestly, her big concern was that I wouldn’t be OK with an unfinished curriculum. My tendency is to finish something once I start it. However, I admitted that I would need to look more closely in order to make any sort of real determination. I did, and as I examined the workbook to see what concepts had been mastered, which ones still needed work and which ones were superfluous, my wife began to unload all of her frustration about this subject.
- It was the only subject that she didn’t like teaching.
- It was the only subject that our son didn’t like learning.
- It was the only subject that wasn’t completed by the “end of school.” (With the exception of Math; we are always behind on Math.) As I listened and examined the workbook I had a realization: This curriculum sucks!
OK, maybe it doesn’t suck, but it kind of does. It’s definitely not for us. Virtually the entire thing was busy work that presented material in a confusing way. It didn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, teach the subject classically (which is ordinarily a benchmark for us).
I put the workbook down and sat there in shame. Throughout the year, my poor wife had been complaining to me about this curriculum. I just sort of lumped it in with all of the other homeschool challenges and never realized that it was an issue that needed to be truly addressed.
I had to apologize for not evaluating the school year periodically. “Had I taken the time to look at this earlier,” I said, “I would have told you to scrap it. It is a complete waste!” Oh, the heartache and headache I could have spared my wife!
Men, our wives need us to evaluate how the homeschool is going. This, whenever possible, should be our responsibility for at least two reasons: moms are in the game, and we are calling the plays.
Moms are in the game.
My own mom is fond of reminding us all that “Motherhood is just one, big, guilt trip.” When my wife was struggling with the curriculum, she assumed that it was her fault. She was the one who was responsible for teaching it, and if it didn’t get done she could not pass the buck. She was in the thick of it; she was in the game!
I know a guy who was playing a round of golf with a brand new set of clubs. He happened to be playing a horrible game. He made the post hoc ergo propter hoc mistake and determined that he was better off without the clubs. He—and I’m not joking here—threw them into the lake. We all know that it is a poor craftsman who blames his tools, and our wives know it too. They assume the problem is them, but the problem might actually be the curriculum or the time of day or the crying baby or any number of alterable factors.
They need someone who is not in the trenches of the game to tell them to take another swing or to try this bat instead.
You are calling the plays.
If you’ve ever seen a little league game, you know that far too often a runner sacrifices the call of the coach for his own judgment. For our wives who are submissively following our leadership, on-the-fly self-evaluations can seem just as foolish and just as unacceptable.
If we fail to frequently evaluate, we undermine our own authority. We are like the first base coach who is scanning the crowd while his player is running and looking to him for a call. Dads, we are coaches. We are to call the plays; paying attention to the game is part of the job.
We must encourage unwaveringly and evaluate impartially. We must watch the game and cheer the players on. It is then that we can move on to our favorite contribution, but for that, check back in for Part Three.
Return to 3 Unique Contributions…Part One
Continue to 3 Unique Contributions…Part Three
This Father’s Day, and always, help him feel appreciated and cared about…
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