My wife and I are home schoolers. We have been for what seems like forever at this point. In reality it’s only been about 12 years (since around 2004) that we’ve been doing it. It’s tiring. It’s expensive. There are days when you don’t think you are good enough to do it. There are days you think you’ve got many of the answers. It’s a challenge for both parents and students, but it can be one of the most rewarding decisions you ever make.
There are things she’s really good at, and there are things that I’m good at. We use those strengths and weaknesses to balance each other and make the experience the best it can possibly be for our children. In reality my wife does the bulk of the work. She’s at home with the kids all day. I’m off at work. She does most of the schooling, if I’m being completely honest. I come in at the end of the day with the one or two subjects that I know really well and try to sneak in a few fun things to do with the kids here and there.
That having been said there are things your homeschooling wife (or husband, if they do the bulk of the job) like to hear. There are things you can do as the supporter that can make the days, the weeks and the years so much easier. Here are a few things I try to keep in mind and a few things your homeschooling partner likes to hear or do.
1. You’re doing a great job. It’s hard to be a teacher. It’s even harder when you’ve got four kids at four different levels that you have to teach a half a dozen subjects each. Parents don’t always have all the answers, but we certainly do our best to know them. When you’ve got to prepare all the curriculum for all of your kids and have some knowledge of everything they’re learning it can be tiring. Then if you have a kid who struggles in one area many times the parent thinks it’s their fault that the child isn’t understanding. It can be hard on them mentally, physically and emotionally.
Let them know that they’re doing a good job. They’re not always going to feel that way, but they need to hear it. You can think it and believe it all you want, but unless you tell them you think they’re doing great they’re not going to know. Make it a point to tell them that you think what they’re doing is the best thing in the world. Tell them, straight up, “I think you’re doing a wonderful job teaching these kids.”
2. Let them fall into your arms at the end of the day. I can’t stress this enough. Homeschooling can be tiring for the parent who is there all day with the kids. It will wear them out. At the end of the day when all the kids are in bed, or in their room if they’re older, let them fall into your arms. Wrap yourself around them. Sit on the couch together, lay next to each other in bed and just let them relax. You can use that time to talk about everything that’s been happening to each of you during the day. Let them vent if they need to. Let them tell you all the exciting things that happened with the kids during the day. Just let them relax.
3. I want to be involved. Many times homeschool is a joint effort. You both take on things to help. Sometimes you don’t. You think, I’m off at work all day. I can’t come home and teach. Trust me, you can. Find a subject. Find two subjects. Find a single thing you know a lot about and use that. Just get involved. Talk to the kids when you come home at the end of the day. Ask them what they’ve learned. Use that to reinforce the things your partner taught during the day.
If you take on a subject yourself make sure you stick with it. I’ve failed at that in the past. Find one subject you can teach and take that responsibility away from your partner. Even if it is only one subject it’s one less thing that they have to be worried about. It takes some of the burden off of them.
Homeschooling doesn’t have to fall between certain hours each day. That’s the beauty of being a homeschooler. It can happen anytime, anywhere. You’re not stuck to one time and even if you are away from the house all day when you get home you can spend some time with the kids teaching them about the Norman invasion, showing them how to read the periodic table of elements or teaching them what a2+b2+c2 equals.
4. I think what you’re doing is incredibly attractive. Who doesn’t like to hear that? I mean, come on. Have you ever not beamed from ear to ear when someone told you that they thought you were hot? Women like to hear that. Moms love to hear that. You come home after a long day of work, you walk into the front door and you’re greeted by a woman who’s hair may be a little disheveled. She may be in sweat pants and a t-shirt. She may have some mystery stain from the 3 year olds lunch still on her shoulder. Tell her she’s hot. Tell her you think she’s beautiful. Tell her that you think the fact that she can stay home with your kids and teach them everything they need to know is the most attractive thing you could think of. She needs to hear that.
5. It’s okay to take a day off. Everyone needs a break from time to time. It’s just a fact. Mom, who’s been home all day everyday with five kids, the family pet and no chance of escape needs some time off. Take a break. If you can take some time off from work stay home one day and teach the kids. If it’s the weekend just let her go have some time by herself. If she doesn’t want to go out anywhere take the kids out and let her stay home. She needs some time to relax and recharge. It’s very easy to go a little stir crazy if you haven’t had a chance to get out of the house. If the first words out of anyone’s mouth she’s heard for two weeks is, ‘Mom, I need’ then let her get out and have some time with her adult friends.
Even if she doesn’t go out and you’re home with her just let her have a day off. School can wait. Those textbooks aren’t going anywhere. You can make that work up throughout the week or you can add a day to the end of your school year. It doesn’t really matter when. She needs to relax. Give her some time to refresh every now and then.
These are just a few things you can do. I’m sure there are many more I could come up with and I could do a whole other article on that. Perhaps I will soon. Your homeschool mom (or dad) needs to know what they’re doing is important. They need to know you support them and they need to know they’re doing the right thing. It doesn’t take much to show your appreciation. A few words can be enough to rejuvenate them and let them know how much you care about them and the things they’re doing.