by Katherine M. Miner
When I started my
fourth year of homeschooling this past September, I began with
great anticipation and anxiety. We had moved our classroom
into our living room during the summer months, expecting to be
settled when fall arrived.
As I walked around our "classroom" straightening desk tops
and rearranging book shelves, I remembered other times.
Evenings that were spent listening to the sounds of crickets
and frogs, class times, daily Mass, music lessons, car pools
for practices and games - I had even assigned seats in our van
and at the kitchen table! Everything was in place and I was
very organized - but
something was wrong. I felt uneasiness within
Our seven children reported to our living room/class room,
promptly after returning from daily Mass. The chaos began
as they took out their books and sharpened pencils. The
phone began to ring (the phone is our number 1 enemy!). The
dog wanted in and out (and out and in). At first, one child
would have a question, then the next, and then next. The
following two hours would be chimes of, "I
can't do this!"
In the back of my mind were nagging thoughts of juggling
doctor and dentist appointments along with the courses of
algebra, English, and biology. Then, of course, I couldn't
forget the laundry, dishes, and meals.
Could I handle everything, plus any extra activities that
would squeeze their way in (like birthdays and holidays)? It
wasn't long before I also screamed, "I
need help - I can't do this!"
It took an evening family seminar (as I sat close to tears)
to help me realize I did have help - my husband! I had to let my
husband in on my day. Most of us wives don't think our
husbands could possibly understand or lend a hand.
What we often forget is that we already have a game plan
set up for us by Christ. He wants men to be the head of their
families, just as Christ is head of the Church (Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved
the church, and delivered himself up for it. Ephesians
If we women feel as though everything depends on us, we
will show it in our behavior. Our attitudes could express the
idea that our husbands are not supportive. We have to learn to
let them help us.
Sit down with your husband and ask him
to help you prioritize your day. Then watch his jaw hit
the floor! Tell him what you think needs to be done and let
him help direct you. Pray for Our Lord's guidance before you
work together on any schedule or plan.
Remember that structure is also extremely important. Men
work in a structured environment and they can be a great help
incorporating structure into our homes. Children really flourish with
Colleges are finding that homeschooled graduates are
self-disciplined and have solid time management skills. This
is a direct result of well-structured environments.
How do we allow our husbands to be supportive? I'd like to
share a simple
chart that works for our family and is similar
to the one below. Just modify it if you wish to adapt it to a
plan that will work for your family.
Continue with your own
You will want to fill in your own subjects under
"Class." How to fill the rest? Let the children fill in what time
they started and finished. Did they finish the work
completely? If so, they can "x" the box. If not, leave it
The next part is Mom's job. She
can look over the chart and be sure each child has filled in
boxes honestly, for starters. Then she rates each child's
attitude between "0" and "5," with the "5 being the highest
possible number. If a child gets "5" average at the end of 25
consecutive days, he receives the pleasure of going out for a
meal with Mom and Dad alone.
For us, each day begins with my husband getting up a half
an hour earlier than normal. While he is in the shower, I iron
his shorts for work and make his lunch. A little later, as I'm
making breakfast, my husband fills out the
lower portion of the chart that asks for additional
The charts may have headings like "Chores," "Special
Accomplishments Initiated by the Child," and "Comments." We've also included room for
a personalized paragraph for each
child. My husband fills that in, too, praising and
thanking each child for completing something of importance the
Then Dad wakes the older children (ages 8 and above). He
goes over what is expected of them that day, using my day
planner as a guide. He may also include a character study on
the main virtues for that day, or he may go over a verse from
the Holy bible. He also might just leave the time open for
concerns that each child might have or want to discuss.
(Article continues under chart below.)
Mom & Dad
After my husband has come home from work and had
dinner, he then proceeds to talk to each child about their own
separate charts. How was their
attitude? How did they respond to Mom's
direction? Did the children complete their work?
If not, Dad
does homework (yes -
homework!) with that child.
Normally, when men come home from work, they're tired. No
one wants to discuss problems. So we've come up with another
solution - Mom and Dad's Night Out. We
schedule a time together to be away from the four walls of
home - even if it is a car ride to get an ice cream cone! This
is designated time together to talk about concerns. We discuss
what has worked and what hasn't - away from the ears of the
children. The communication between family members is
essential to the success of homeschooling - family life in
One point we need to mention is flexibility. Sometimes a day just doesn't
run as smoothly as we have planned. Avoid getting frustrated
and face the fact that some days we'll have to "bend" a
Instituting any plan is
difficult and requires great effort. When
letting our husbands give us direction, it is natural for us
to want to hang on to our control. By encouraging our husbands
to take control of our home schooling environment, we are also
allowing them to be supportive. We will benefit from the home
environment without being in total control! When Dad supports
Mom, and Mom supports Dad, the family works as one unit -
-From " The
Catholic Family's Magnificat!"
Spring 1995 Issue