After attending the 2016 MPE graduation, I was again reminded of how important it is for a family to have hope that they can continue and finish the homeschool course.
At the graduation, it was great to see over 60 families present their graduate with a diploma. It is truly a family-friendly, Christ-honoring event.
I know a few families who graduated their final student after homeschooling over 20, 25, or 30 years. Seeing these families complete the course is very encouraging and a sign that others can complete their course also.
But I’m also seeing many drop out of homeschooling as their students get older. Why? I was on a panel with the Assistant Secretary of Education for Kansas and he stated their biggest challenge is teacher retention/morale.
The same thing holds true for homeschoolers. The parent doing the teaching often feels inadequate for the task, unappreciated, fatigued and discouraged with disharmony in the home, and they see quitting as the solution.
Here are some steps to strengthen and help your resolve.
Key #1 to finish the homeschool course: Having/Being a supportive spouse.
If you are not the primary teacher, then here is an overview of areas of emphasis for how you can help the stay-at-home teacher. To keep morale high and be a supportive spouse, we need to:
- Make time to listen — actively listen.
You are the rare adult that the teacher engages with regularly. You need to listen to “work-related” concerns.
- Pray for your spouse out loud.
We need God’s help often. So we ask.
(As part of my active listening, I would just pray for my wife, asking God to specifically help her with the concerns she had brought up in conversation.)
- Have a vision to hold on to during the challenges.
Know why you are homeschooling and repeat the vision to your spouse during discouraging times.
- Give the teacher a break.
I worked while my wife worked as the schoolteacher at home. It didn’t work well for me to punch out when arriving at home. We are teammates and I needed to help around the home. We are both parents.
I also needed to encourage and support the time she had with friends away from the home. One of the best things we’ve done is a sisters’ weekend for my wife, her mom, and her homeschooling sisters and sister-in-law.
But then I had to recalibrate my wife’s expectations on returning home so that if the children were alive and the house hadn’t burned down, then I had successfully navigated the weekend. I’m not as good at tidy as she is!
My wife also meets regularly with a few other homeschooling moms to pray through their concerns as mothers. Pat tells me this is free “therapy” – I’m not having to pay for a therapist/counselor.
- Give the teacher a regular date night.
So much of our daily conversation centers on the business of family. Purpose to schedule a weekly date time to be “friends and lovers.” You need to schedule time to strengthen your marriage.
When finances were more challenging, our dates would be dinner and conversation in our room with children instructed not to interrupt except for breathing obstructions, blood or fire.
- Be the principal in governing the school.
I needed to show our children that I agreed with my wife’s disciplinary decisions. I also needed to lay down the law when requested as she would at times get worn out correcting our children, especially as our sons got older.
These practical steps can go a long way to navigating the dark nights of the soul the homeschool teacher goes through.
Embrace the role of supportive spouse. Excel at that position.