Simple Tips to Getting More Involved
Long day. I pulled the car into the driveway from a less-than-relaxing commute, only to be greeted by a new set of responsibilities. How was I going to manage my time, my attitude, and the workload at home?
That has been my thought more than once. Being a homeschooling family is a great investment, and it pays off every day. But there is quite a bit of work involved. Along the way, my wife and I have worked together and discovered some simple things that help me play the role of principal and get the things I need to do finished.
To begin with, the first thing a busy dad needs is information and communication with his wife. Both school administrators need to be on the same page. Good communication can be one of the greatest time-savers imaginable. Working together in this manner cuts down on chaos and misdirected goals, and the principal can kiss the teacher.
To assure that communication takes place, we have regular staff meetings. In these meetings we talk of the progress that has been made, what is currently on the radar, and what is ahead. The character of our children is also an issue. Here discipline and discipleship come together to teach our kids that God is not confined to a Sunday school room. We also go over the homeschool budget and schedule for field trips and activities. Often I will get in family time by participating in these trips.
The second time-management boon I have found comes after my wife and I have met and prioritized our homeschool plans. Here we get rid of the unnecessary time parasites. Yes, Dad, we cut out much television. Not all, but really, how many times do we need to watch Wheel of Fortune or MASH?
Once the superfluous is trimmed away, organization is our next big time-saver. This includes having a place where all the homeschool things I am to look over are to be placed, as well as further prioritizing our time. For example, on Thursdays I can expect the notebooks to be in my grading pile for me to grade and comment upon. Then on Fridays my wife can get her lesson plans ready for Monday. This makes for a much more enjoyable Friday night and a weekend of “non-homeschooling.” We also organize the family for time to be spent on dinner, recreation, and chores. Yes, our kids are all assigned chores, and that in the long run helps Mom and Dad do the things Mom and Dad are assigned. Mind you, these are kids, and Dad, as a word of caution, the kitchen will not be surgically clean—learn to work with what God gives you.
Dinnertime around the table is a great chance to get caught up on the day. Each person participates in sharing what was important in his or her life that day, along with plans for the immediate future. In doing this we all can appreciate one another and coordinate efforts to achieve goals together, even if that goal is a board game or Mario Kart. Often we find a synergy and are able to prioritize amongst ourselves. Here Dad can give expectations that will help Mom out the next day. Dad, this will keep you from having to spend time in clarifying goals, expectations, and discipline over problematic behavior. (Don’t single anyone out, but make standards well known.)
Giving Dad Five
Another time-saver is what I call “Giving Dad five minutes.” Often I come home to four children, an ark of pets, and a house that has issues with plumbing. The commute from work will not always afford serenity. We have tried to establish a guideline that allows Dad to come home, change clothes, and get a long-awaited beverage before the assault of needs.
Dad, try to do this. The five minutes you take to set your heart for the evening can make all the difference. Explain this to your wife. You set the tone for the home and often select the song for the night. Don’t use this time for video games or crawling in a mental box, but get your stuff settled and then give the family your full attention. At times there will be toilets backed up, or even some issues that really don’t matter to you but are deeply important to your children. In these cases, I either have my wife phone ahead of time to warn me, or I have the child put a note on my dresser for when I get home. These five minutes can make the evening a victory in the school.
For you busy dads, here are the bullet points of your homeschool responsibilities.[bullet_list icon=”check”]
Take responsibility. Leadership brings progress.
Work together. Synergy is dynamic.
Have regular meetings to evaluate and plan. (Kiss the teacher for a job well done!)
Pause for good communication.
Have a budget your wife can work from.
Prioritize according to plan.
Ignore wasteful pursuits.
Organize resources and schedules.
Be realistic in your expectations.
Make use of dinnertime at the table together.
Take five minutes to set your heart right every evening before putting on the principal hat.
Our reactions to managing our time and homes wisely can be comparable to the infamous stereotype of men refusing to ask directions when lost. We just don’t want to do so because, well, we’re men—we attack, conquer, and achieve all on our own. By following those natural instincts to a ridiculous extent, we have all had times of utter waste of energy, time, emotions, and gasoline all because we thought we knew the way to go—only to find ourselves perhaps more lost than before. In your role as father, husband, and head of the household, stop and get direction, and you will be a greater hero still.
Husband, Dad, Pastor, Principal are just a few of the hats Wes Pinkley wears every day. When he is not wearing one of these he can be found either working with wood creating new items, or deep within a book.
This article was originally published in the Sep/Oct 2009 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Used by permission. Learn more at www.HomeSchoolEnrichment.com
“Busy Dad” © 2010 Naka7a. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.
“Desk at Work” © 2010 gt8073a. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.