by Rebecca Kocsis
Many people ask me about my husband’s role in our homeschool. With five children grown and graduated, they always want to know how he contributed. He would actually tell you he played no role in our family’s homeschool, but nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s not what you think.
You might be surprised to hear he didn’t teach much in the way of academics. Teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic were not his thing. I learned not to pressure him in those areas. When I guilted him into trying to do math lessons once, no one was happy. He did science projects, though. Because he was an electrician, he was partial to the ones on current and circuitry. True, I had friends whose husbands did things differently, and there were times when I thought, “That might be nice.” Trying to force my husband into another man’s mold never worked.
Here are some of the things he did:
He went to work every day so I didn’t have to.
He freed me up to homeschool. He was committed 100% to making sure our children received an education consistent with our faith. Because of that , he sacrificed. For years, he commuted more than 100 miles each day to work and back to make a good living. He often worked side jobs on weekends to make up for any shortfall. After the man had worked 40+ hours per week, with several hours of commute on top of that, who was I to complain because he didn’t teach math? Granted, many years into our homeschool journey, I did start working from home to supplement our income, mainly to pay for what he called my homeschool “habit,” which was going on many field trips and buying books—lots and lots of books.
He modeled a strong work ethic and instilled that in our children.
His work schedule was such that he was up and out of the house before the kids were out of bed. That meant he was home early, often before we were done with our school day. It was not uncommon for him to come in the door during our read aloud time. He’d join the kids on the living room floor and listen in. When we were finished, he’d tell the kids to “put on their work clothes” and meet him in the backyard. They were going to become “one with nature.” Translated, that meant do yard work and tend the garden with him. This was his way of decompressing. Spiritual lessons abounded while gardening. That’s also when one of our daughters said she learned, among other things, to never put in eight eggplant seedlings. Unless you really, really love eggplant, which we did not. After a day full of lessons, I appreciated the break. Even after a long day on the job, there was still work to do.
He taught them practical skills.
Over the course of our homeschool years, we remodeled two homes. In the process he taught them many valuable skills as future homeowners. Carpentry, drywall, painting, and wiring, they did it all—boys and girls alike—except for plumbing. He didn’t really enjoy plumbing. And he was the one to teach the kids to drive. (Thank you, Dear.) Along with driving skills, he taught them how to maintain their vehicles.
He stood behind me with a big stick when our boys got bigger than me.
He made sure they showed respect to their teacher, aka Mom. As our boys approached manhood, they sometimes resented that I was “always telling them what to do.” I wasn’t. Being their mother and their teacher, some days it just felt like it. They were good boys, who rightly wanted to stretch their wings and develop more independence. It was time to do that. However, he saw to it that respect and obedience were not sacrificed in the process.
He helped me make tough decisions.
Most weren’t really as tough as I thought. Like curriculum choices. One year, I could not decide on an English program. I didn’t want to make the wrong decision. After explaining to him the pros and cons of both, he said, “Sounds like they are both good. Why are you worried? Just buy one and use it.” And he was right. I was worrying over nothing. In this case it didn’t matter. I just needed to pull the trigger.
He shared his perspective and wisdom.
I often couldn’t see the forest for the trees and needed a broader perspective. Homeschooling can be all-consuming and overwhelming. Some years are harder than others.
The year our youngest started formal lessons was one such year. I was teaching five different grade levels from kindergarten through high school. Each day was a struggle. After the first few weeks of attempting to cover everything I wanted to with the kids, I came to the conclusion that you cannot teach five different grade levels at the same time. Yes, I was teaching them in groups. The three “bigs”were doing American Literature and U.S. History together. The littles had their own science and social studies together. Still, week after week, Friday would arrive, and we weren’t getting everything done.
One night after dinner, I said, “I give up. It is humanly impossible to homeschool five different grade levels at the same time.” After listening to me vent for a few moments, my husband asked me to write down everything I wanted to accomplish in a perfect school day; that he could create a schedule that worked. I was skeptical.
After a good hour of writing, erasing, and rewriting, I presented him with my schedule of the perfect homeschool day, teaching five different grade levels from kindergarten through high school. He took my list, went into the other room, and came back a few minutes later with a new schedule. I was incredulous. There was no way he could put that puzzle of a schedule together in such a short time.
As I looked it over, I was appalled. He had deleted fully two-thirds of my list. The majority of which was time with the older kids.
“You cut out most of the lesson time with the older kids!”
“But I really want to teach them those lessons,” I sputtered.
“You want to, but you don’t need to. You spent years giving them a solid foundation so they could be life-long learners. They can be independent now. You need to spend time laying the same foundation with the younger kids. They need you more.”
I was deflated. He was right, and I knew it. The high school course work was much more interesting, and I was looking forward to learning it with them. My own high school experience was lacking, so this was disappointing. Still, there was no arguing with the wisdom. The bigs didn’t need me to spoon-feed them. Our littlest learners needed my time much more. So that’s what I did.
He did the most important thing.
He cared about our children’s spiritual well-being. No, he didn’t do daily devotions with them. I did. Just like he went to work faithfully everyday (so I didn’t have to), he made sure we were faithful in church attendance. We were there every Sunday we could be, and we went to other services as well. Before our children attended youth group, we “vetted” the leadership. It was important we could be confident our kids were receiving the same instruction at church that they got at home. And I should say the goal was faithfulness and consistency. Nobody’s perfect.
Don’t compare your husband to others or try to make him fit into somebody else’s mold. Rather, let him use his gifts when homeschooling your children. God didn’t make any mistakes when He put you together and directed you to homeschool. Your gifts will complement each other’s. It’s okay if he doesn’t want to teach math. If math isn’t your thing either, there are multitudes of video and online programs that will work just as well.
Don’t underestimate your husband’s wisdom and perspective. God is anointing him and gifting him as your family’s leader. Respect that.
The moral of the story
Homeschooling isn’t simply about academics. It’s about family and life skills, too. Most importantly, it’s about discipleship. Yes, moms often do the heavy lifting when it comes to academics. I know in our homeschool I did. Dads who model support, consistency, and faithfulness are the true unsung heroes.
Don’t give up, husbands. I know you often feel overlooked in the day in and day out of your family’s homeschool. My husband did. God sees your sacrifice. He sees your faithfulness. Stand strong for your family and don’t compromise. You will be rewarded.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9 (NLT)
Rebecca Kocsis and her husband homeschooled all five of their children, graduating their youngest in 2006. They are now the proud grandparents of an ever-growing tribe of energetic boys and girls (12 to date) who are their greatest delight. Rebecca served for 15 years as a private school satellite program administrator and for several years on CHEA’s Regional Advisory Board. Today, she is still passionate about private home education and helping families homeschool, serving on CHEA’s board of directors.