Published with Permission
Written by Ronald E Johnson, C.Ph.D.
Someone once observed with tongue in cheek, that the best candidate for managing a Fortune 500 corporation would be a home school mother who successfully educated half a dozen children while keeping her marriage intact. Anyone who knows anything about education, marriage and home management smiles in agreement. The fact is that home education is no easy accomplishment. It requires a genius level mental capacity, industrial level production, Wall Street management skills, and athleticism at the Pro-bowl level! And oh yes, the effective home school mom demonstrates a good sense of humor, tough hide, romantic touch, culinary skills, and academic competency at the Ph. D. level.
Nothing short of praise and admiration are due to moms who home educate their children. The women who decide to train their children at kitchen tables and living room desks deserve credit far beyond the accolades splashed on traditional school teachers. Not only do home school moms keep house (laundry, dishes, meals, diapers, mopping, and dusting), they are acutely aware of sensitive relationships with their husbands. It is one thing to keep children focused diligently on arithmetic, grammar, penmanship, and science projects; it is quite another thing to maintain a positive and endearing relationship with husband after a grueling day with diapers, arithmetic, biology, grilled-cheese sandwiches, and research assignments.
Women who accept the responsibility of home educating children take on a role that can make or break a marriage. Men are capable of being noble, generous, kind, understanding and protective. A husband is also capable of being insensitive to needs of his children, demanding about affection from his wife, and absent from home when needed. Life for a home educating wife becomes more than a little rough when the husband boasts, “I let my wife take care of educating the kids.” Fortunate is the home schooling mom whose husband shares the load of active participant in the home by taking care of such responsibilities as finances, home and vehicle maintenance, spiritual leadership and superintendent over school matters. Even with a participating husband, the daily work load can become almost too demanding for wives who do not maintain a delicate balance among the role as mother, educator, housekeeper and wife.
More than a few marriages among home school families grow tense and fragile due to conflicts that stem from the wife’s overload during the day with children. Operating a one-room school for multiple grade levels and academic courses requires lesson planning, instructional oversight and late-night paper grading. Those tasks usually leave the wife exhausted and emotionally drained by lights out. However, her role as wife still requires her to address her husband’s expectations for romantic intimacy. Moreover, most home-educating families are large by design; the couples desire numerous children. They may come along by surprise, but usually they are anticipated and wanted. However, the larger the family, the greater are mom’s responsibilities for application of the Fortune 500 skills. The husband and wife learn to involve their children in keeping the home manageable so mom can take care of daily school responsibilities. Children make their beds, clean up their rooms, sort laundry, wash dishes, clean the carpet, sweep the kitchen floor, mow the lawn, feed the chickens, weed the garden, and prepare meals. They become mom’s “extra hands” so she can “run the school” and “be a good wife.”
A well managed home school maintains a balance between what wife and husband would like to accomplish, and what they can actually accomplish with available energy and skills. Some preferred learning projects may have to be put on hold temporarily while mom deals with pressing issues of daily care of children, herself and her husband. Even the best of trained and experienced teachers learn to budget their available energy and intellectual skills to address the academic needs of students. A significant secret to maintaining a happy marriage and quality education is to recognize which academic courses are the most demanding on the wife, and be willing (at least for a season), to select curriculum that requires the least amount of mom’s time for planning, oversight, and record keeping for specific academic subjects. Rare is the home- educating wife who is equally gifted in the four major academic areas of math, science, language skills and cultural studies at all the grade levels of her children.
Fortunately, home school families have access to a plethora of wonderful academic resources ranging from self-paced material to hands on instruction. The larger the family and greater the range of ages and academic grades, the more parents need to decide what is reasonable for the wife to supervise. The most reasonable approach for the husband and wife is to determine what courses and subjects take an extra amount of mom’s time for planning, oversight and record keeping, and to procure curriculum that allows students to assume the greater amount of responsibility for completion without “over-the-shoulder” supervision by mom. The wife should teach the courses that are her favorites, and delegate to self-directed curriculum the subjects that tax the mom’s academic skills, emotional energy, and available time.
Parents need not feel guilty by falsely assuming that they are providing an inferior education by selecting self-paced, individualized learning materials that reduce the academic load on the wife. Several sectarian and secular curriculum publishing companies have recognized the need to provide quality instructional materials for one-room school settings, with one being Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum, which provides top-of-the line products. Children who home-educate on those materials have demonstrated a high level of competency when enrolling in college courses. Application of individualized learning curriculum in print or on computer does not prevent parents from also involving their children in special learning projects such as field trips, academic and performing art competitions, or collaborative projects with other members of the family or home school community. What the individualized curriculum does accomplish is to reduce mom’s daily load to a manageable level so she has the emotional and physical energy to be the mom and wife she wants to be.
Moreover, publishers of individualized learning curriculum usually provide guidelines and training to help parents get the most out of course materials. They also provide efficient record keeping forms and instructions that enable moms to spend a minimum amount of time on lesson planning, oversight and record keeping. For example, Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum and System (PACS) offers a Home School Training Kit that “walks” mom through the steps to identify, prescribe and provide oversight of academics in an efficient and professional manner. The kit also includes a Daily Academic Goal Chart, Academic Contract, Transcript Planner, Report Card, Incentive Chart, and Diploma. The kit is packaged to minimize administrative management of the educational program.
Individualized high school courses also reduce mom’s daily load to a manageable level so she has time to devote attention to the children who need more oversight. Another benefit of using individualized curriculum is that teenagers begin to feel that they are earning parental confidence to emancipate from childhood behavior. Most teenagers neither like nor need mom to direct all aspects of academics studies. Teenagers who are encouraged and allowed to take responsibility for a large part of their academics not only help mom, they tend to mature in decision-making skills that enhance career choices and performance in college.
Sometimes the difference between managing a pleasant home environment and operating under stress is application of individualized learning curriculum for the high school subjects that tax mom’s energy. Taking just a little load off mom can make a world of difference in the way she responds to her husband and children. And the way she manages her home and marriage.
For more articles by Dr. Johnson or to check out Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum, visit www.pacworks.com (“Doc’s Blog”). We welcome your thoughts and comments at Learn@pacworks.com, you may also call 325-649-0976. Please join us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PACWorks. Readers may reproduce Dr. Johnson’s articles provided that proper credit is assigned to the author.
Dr. Johnson is founder and president of Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum & System. He is an author, conference speaker, and educational entrepreneur. He and his wife educated their seven children in home and private school settings. His innovative educational achievements have earned international recognition.