Though I am the primary home educator of my kiddos, the Director of Studies, the Coordinator of Private Lessons, the Designer of Curricula and Year’s Flow, I enjoy an immense level of support from my delightfully charming and brilliant husband, Jamie. He’s busy teaching English and directing theater at a local university during the school year, and he spends his summers writing novels and short stories, essays, films, and plays. He’s also an accomplished musician, and is versed in performance (guitar), theory, and jazz and rock history. These are the things he loves, and though as you might expect these activities require a good portion of his time, he also brings these interests and talents to the homeschool table.
Our partnership in educating our children has strengthened our family over the past four years, and has enriched both Eva and Ian in the arts and humanities. The trick in balancing work and home education is finding the areas of natural intersection. I will admit that Jamie’s career as teacher perhaps intersects with homeschooling more easily than most, but the point is to be creative. Over the years, Jamie has contributed to our life in home education in many ways. Here are some:
He partnered with Eva and Ian to participate in their first National Novel Writing Month together; Jamie published his book Barking Mad out of that experience, and Eva self-published her first book, Birds on the Run.
- He has for years served as Ian’s major music influence, sharing works from many eras and genres, serving as guitarist, vocalist, and leader in Ian’s first rock band Blind Mice (Ian was just six when they formed!), and helping Ian explore the ins and outs of recording (they’re in there at the piano recording as I write this).
- A bit of a history buff, Jamie has often helped me review each era as we come to them in our course of study. I do the nitty-gritty planning, but he helps me refresh on the big picture.
- When I’m out of town or sick, Jamie takes the reigns, running some activities that I’ve set up, and planning and implementing his own; one of Eva’s all-time favorite homeschooling memories was the walk they took through downtown, discussing William Hogarth and creating sketches of urban scenes in his style. I believe there may have been cupcakes involved.
- When the semester works out, Jamie will help cart the kids to lessons in the afternoons, giving me an hour of incredibly rare quiet time. This is a monumental gift.
When, in March, I begin to give in to the forever-long winter blues and second-guess pretty much everything I’m doing in our homeschool environment, Jamie reminds me of the fabulous things we do together and keeps me going until the sun reappears in May.
- He invited Ian (then 10) to sit in his college English class for a week while they discussed bibliography. What a fabulous experience for him!
- He gives feedback on the kids’ essays, and has on occasion provided lessons in grammar.
- When appropriate, Jamie always gives Ian and Eva first drafts of his novels, plays, and short stories to read. He invites them to give him feedback, which he takes seriously.
- When he directs plays (and last year he wrote the play he directed), he involves the kids in the rehearsals, set building, direction and performance. Eva has a particular interest in theater, and has learned so much from this process! And Ian I think still knows “The Importance of Being Earnest” by memory.
- Jamie is a huge fan of British humor and kick-butt fantasy. He’s introduced the kids to the Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Mr. Bean, Dr. Who, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, among many other wonderful characters.
- A computer tinkerer, Jamie has also worked with both kids to develop Twitter and Facebook accounts, and has helped with the design of both of their websites.
- Jamie cooks dinner most days; he grocery shops too.
Yay Jamie! What a guy. But the point of this post isn’t just to praise my better half (though that’s fun too), but to point out all the ways that, in a two-parent family, both parents/partners can be involved. Our society too often limits “school” to math, science, reading, and social studies. But life is so much bigger than the core, and homeschooling, when done right, honors and reflects that. When Jamie and Eva share a Buffy episode while making dinner together, they discuss theme and character, allusion and symbolism. He is helping Eva grow as an author, and there are no worksheets anywhere near them. And how can you possibly measure the experiences that Eva has enjoyed in the theater with Dad-director? Or the level of musicianship Ian has attained due to the countless times Jamie has shared a new band, gigged, or talked theory with him?
If you are the primary home educator and have a (hopefully supportive) partner, look to their career and hobbies for ways in which they already or could potentially enrich the homeschool environment, and be sure to look beyond that pesky core. There are things to be learned in the garden or workshop, under the car hood, on a run, or at a campsite. And lessons can be brought home from work, whether your partner is a teacher, doctor, hair dresser, nurse, lawyer, mechanic, or plumber, or or or….
If you want to instill a love of learning in your children, let them watch you and your partner love learning. It really doesn’t matter what it is. Just share your joys and passions, and you’ll do all right.
This post is a part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum July 8th blog hop entitled “Homeschooling With/Without a Partner.” To see the other posts in the hop, click here or on the image to the left.
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