Homeschooling Tips: Getting Your Spouse On Board with the Decision
Here it is July already and you haven't yet made the decision about whether or not to homeschool in the fall. Or maybe you have decided to homeschool, but you feel like you're not prepared for the task ahead of you. Both the decision itself and the massive responsibility of figuring out how to educate your child can seem overwhelming and sometimes parents are not sure where to begin. Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing some tips to help you get started so hopefully, you can wade into this new venture feeling confident and empowered.
Tip #1: Get your spouse on your team.
Parenting is a team sport and homeschooling works best when everyone participates. When we first started homeschooling, my husband was "only mostly" on board (like Westley on The Princess Bride was "only mostly dead"). He wasn't opposed to the idea of educating our kids at home, but he had some serious doubts about my ability to pull it off (since I would be the one doing most of the teaching). Who could blame him? Most days I didn't think I could pull it off. I had neither the discipline nor the creative skills that I saw in other homeschooling parents and I was pretty sure I was doing a terrible job of it and failing our kids. So at every sign of distress or frustration my husband would say, "Maybe we should just send them to school."
He thought he was being helpful by letting me know I wasn't trapped in this new life we had chosen, but in reality, he was not helping. He didn't realize it at the time, but he was making it really easy for me to bail out, to give up and send them to school. I needed his encouragement, not his confirmation of my deepest fears and insecurities. And some days, my complaints were a cry for help -- his help. Unfortunately, I didn't tell him any of this. I interpreted his "escape hatch encouragement" as a signal that he was disappointed in my efforts. He, on the other hand, interpreted my
occasional frequent complaints as a sign that I wasn't happy or that homeschooling wasn't going well. Every time I unloaded to him about a particularly rough day--usually involving little boys who didn't want to do math--it fed his lack of enthusiasm for homeschooling.
Eventually, we figured out how to communicate better -- not perfectly, but better -- and he realized that sometimes I just needed to vent. Being home with small children all day, every day and making them do stuff they don't necessarily want to do (math drills and grammar worksheets come to mind) can sometimes be grueling work. I wasn't looking for a way out, I just needed him to listen.
And my husband needed me to reassure him that I was up for the challenge of homeschooling--that I didn't feel like I was feeling pressured to continue. He also needed to know that our kids were learning and progressing, especially in the early years, before he became convinced of the benefits of homeschooling. For our family, that came in the form of me showing or telling him what we had accomplished every day. (And by accomplished, I don't mean to imply that our kids always did book work sitting at the kitchen table. Sometimes what we "accomplished" in a day was spending hours and hours reading a good book together.)
Like most issues in marriage, communication is the key.
What if your spouse is adamantly opposed to homeschooling or has serious reservations?
See next page to find out.