Convincing Dad Home Education is Okay
by Beverley Paine
When we're intensely interested in anything we tend to get a little obsessive, especially during the learning phase. I know I don't think about much else during this phase and if you happen to be near me that's all you'll hear about. I'm sure we've noticed this in our children: when they discover dinosaurs or horses it dominates their chatter and play and seems to invade every moment of their lives! And we tend to learn a lot about dinosaurs and horses along the way too.
That's how it is with us when we discover we can home educate our children. Thing is, it's easy to become thoroughly disenchanted with dinosaurs and horses if that's all our children prattle on about or play with! And we may even become inclined to start going out of our way to bring what we think is a little bit of balance into their lives, by offering them other things to think about and do. It's only natural to start thinking about what they may be missing out on because they are so focused on this one thing. Perhaps our husbands and partners, because home education isn't their idea and they don't feel as passionate to learn about it, and it isn't consuming them as it is us, are able to view it from a different, less attached perspective. While we're working overtime to only see the advantages for our children and ourselves, they naturally mull over the possible and potential disadvantages.
It's easy to misinterpret a line of thought that doesn't naturally affirm what we've said as being oppositional or not in agreement, rather than simply an offering of opinion or idea, especially if we have personal or emotional investment in the discussion. School taught us that we must all think the same: there is only one right answer. As a result, for most of my life I've sought out people who agree with the answers that work for me! When people offer a different view, opinion or thought I generally argue the point, trying to persuade them to my understanding. Such is the huge emotional investment I carry from needing to be 'right'. This also stops me from listening attentively, which means I'm hindered from properly identifying the needs of each person within the conversation. With my children I learned that listening to them, as well as observing them, attentively helped me identify their needs. From there I was able to see how I can meet their needs in a way that didn't overly compromise my needs, or theirs. Although challenging and not easy, it was exciting because it meant I was always learning, about them and about me!
Perhaps in those early weeks or months we're trying too hard to get our husbands and partners on board with the idea of home education. Perhaps we need to explore the issues and comments they are expressing and identify their concerns and fears, and then together brainstorm different ways these can be addressed. I know I didn't do this with my husband and he more or less just went along with the whole idea of home educating the children, hoping and trusting I knew what I was doing! The result of this was that for years I didn't feel fully supported in 'our' decision to home educate and he saw me as the home educator, rather than the both of us taking responsibility for that role.
Don't be afraid to have those long disagreeable conversations which explore all your fears and concerns. Don't be afraid to consider the cons of home education as well as the pros. They are different for each family. Home education works - you don't need to prove that. Instead focus on how it will work in and for your family: address the personal concerns and fears and build a framework (personalised home education curriculum) that meets mum's, dad's and children's needs.
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
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