Home Schooling as a Father

One of the bitter realities of life in modern America is that one essentially plays a chess game with the world and its seductive influences when it comes to the raising of kids. St. John Chrysostom taught that parents who contribute to the spiritual death of their children, by failing to raise them as conscious Christians, are like murderers. The saint calls to mind the otherwise righteous priest Eli, who nevertheless sinned gravely by raising wicked children.

I’m an attorney by day, but I moonlight as “professor Daddy” in the education of my son (8y.o.) and my daughter (5y.o.), soon to be joined by their sister (2y.o.) and brother (infant). After all, why should Mommy have all the fun with home education? In spite of the fact that most home education blogs are mother-oriented, I suspect there are a bunch of us engaged fathers around as well, and I felt it necessary to begin to share some of my own experiences in the home education vocation as I make this journey.

What I’m Learning So Far

Routine and rhythm are key factors to success. Having a regular flow for what to do and when makes much of the operation turn-key. I’m finding out what my own strengths are and what my wife’s strengths are, and I’m learning more about how we can compliment one another’s approaches.

Challenges So Far

One particular challenge has been dealing with a profoundly gifted child, who also happens to be dyslexic. My son’s verbal IQ was 155 (max score) but his reading and spelling ability doesn’t yet reflect this profound giftedness.

I’ve found record-keeping to be a chore, and I have hopped back and forth between various systems. Essentially, the State of Missouri requires that home schooling parents keep a record of hours of instruction in the various core and non-core subjects. I have boiled it down to starting a fresh document every week, and listing out the academic day. First, subject, then the resource (with page numbers usually, because it’s usually a book, or with some other identifier), what we did with it (e.g., “listening with narration,” or “reading practice”), and then a time value.

Sources I’m Using for Guidance

I am drawing so much wisdom and practical experience from Susan Wise Bauer’s 3rd edition of Well-Trained Mind that I splurged and just purchased the 4th edition. For instance, I was really struck by her definition of virtue as the power to do what we know is right, even when we aren’t inclined to do it. I had never heard a definition that was at once so simple and yet such a profound revelation. She has so much great practical guidance, and such sagacious critiques of modern educational philosophy (for instance, the origin of the term “social studies”!!!), that I keep coming back to it. I cannot wait to read the 4th Edition, cover to cover, with my wife. Plus, I’m finding more and more merit to the internal consistency of grammar-logic-rhetoric phases of education. I also really resonate with the fact that the most important skills in classical education are verbal, and the most important things upon which to focus at the grammar phase are reading and, well, English grammar.

Honestly, I’m less impressed with Charlotte Mason methods than I am with Bauer. I have found that my son does NOT, in fact, have a perfect recollection of things he himself has narrated to me in the past, and I believe that some of the CM literature has an unhealthy focus upon making the education “interesting” and “fun” and “restful” etc., instead of a classical focus upon building discipline, learning the skills of delayed gratification, and accepting the fact that not everything we do in education or in our working lives will be fun and exciting or easy or low-stress. Bauer is much more of a realist than some CM writers I have found.

This is all for now. Check back for more later.

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