Dads Homeschool Too

Most parents who take lead on homeschooling their children are moms. That’s fine, but sometimes the dads are overlooked. Although I’ve never met another dad who takes lead on homeschooling, as I do, I know such dads are out there.

Many homeschooling groups on social media are dominated by women, so much so that the presumption sometimes seems to be that only women participate. I regularly run across messages addressed to “Mamas” and invitations to events for “moms.” I’m not complaining. But I would like to gently encourage homeschooling moms to remember that some of us are homeschooling dads—and to encourage the dads to actively participate.

I think people also should bear in mind that some homeschooling families have two moms, two dads, or a single parent. And, in some homeschooling families, Grandma or Grandpa or some other family member takes lead.

I do think it’s common for one spouse or the other to take lead with homeschooling, even though, in two-adult households, normally both parents play a vital role. When I claim to take “lead” on homeschooling, I mean only that I play the larger role during “normal work hours.” Since my wife started working mostly from home during the pandemic, she has been able to take some short breaks during the day to interact with our child, and of course she helps enormously on weekends and during evenings. It is a genuine partnership. Still, I do the research on learning materials, I handle much of the instruction, and, usually, I’m the one who takes our kid to homeschool events.

I don’t see any inherent problem with couples giving top priority to the career of the more-successful partner, so long as both people embrace the situation and neither person feels overworked or undervalued. My wife has been very successful in her career, so our decisions have tended to prioritize her career. We’ve agreed that I’d maintain a more-flexible schedule (and make less money) and take lead on homeschooling. I’m able to pursue a meaningful career within this arrangement, plus I have a very deep interest in education, so for me the situation works out great. My wife is happy, our child is happy, and I’m happy. So why not?

If two parents are able to perfectly balance their careers and their work at home, more power to them. That’s quite common when both people work full-time jobs. But, in large families and in homeschooling families, I think it’s more common, although hardly universal, for greater division of labor between spouses. I don’t think every family needs to look the same. I think every family needs to find that path that works for them and that “we” need to celebrate this diversity of approaches.

Of course residual gender bias in our culture means that some men feel guilty or emasculated if they play a larger-than-usual role in homemaking or homeschooling. And I think even some women continue to see “husband as breadwinner” as “normal.” I think it’s important for people to consciously recognize that such gender bias, whatever its source, is a load of nonsense. Women can be as successful in their careers as men, and men can be as successful with homeschooling as women.

Homeschooling comes in many flavors. We can appreciate them all.