“I really want to homeschool, but my husband just isn’t interested. He thinks our children are going to school, and that’s it. I think homeschooling would be best for us, and I really want to do it, but I don’t want to fight about such a huge issue. How do I convince my husband to homeschool?”
I get variations on this question all the time. It’s a real issue for many couples – what DO you do when you disagree about such an important issue?
And the underlying question really is…
How do you help him to see what you see – that homeschooling can be incredibly successful and enjoyable and would be great for your child?
(BTW, I’m using the terms husband/wife because that’s the way this problem is usually worded. If you’re in another situation, simply change the terms as you read. If you don’t fit the box, make your own!)
I mean, you could take the common advice, which is to accept his view, surrender, and send your children to school – because your marriage is more important than your opinion. But let’s face it, that’s not really an option for most of us this century, where women are equal and able to have their own opinions, even if they do contradict their husband’s.
The key here is to remember that homeschooling is a legitimate education option, not an inferior method. School is not the default option, and the parent who prefers school shouldn’t automatically ‘win’. If he hasn’t seriously considered homeschooling he shouldn’t be able to dismiss it outright.
It’s unfair of one parent to stonewall another because they don’t want to research and think about a critically important part of their child’s life. If he refuses to even consider homeschooling, make it clear to him that you signed up to a partnership, not a dictatorship.
But if he is like most husbands, and respects your opinion, you can help him examine and evaluate his views about education, without driving him insane.
Here are 8 suggestions that will help you convert your husband to the idea of homeschooling, without nagging, arguments, or defiance.
Because life is much easier, and far more pleasant, when neither of us is simmering in resentment because our wishes have been ignored or we feel like we don’t have a choice.
1. Put yourself in his shoes
Before you say ANYTHING else, look at it from his perspective. He’s concerned about his child’s education and wants to make sure it’s high-quality. He’s probably been socialised to believe that school is the only way to learn, that homeschoolers are weirdos, and is worried about several specific issues. He may have family, friends, or workmates who express misgivings about homeschooling, or make jokes about how soon he’ll be living like the Amish and weaving his own jackets.
We all know that homeschooling is incredibly misrepresented by mainstream media and stereotypes, and that’s what’s influencing most people. It probably used to influence you. Be kind, and accept that it may take time for your husband to learn about homeschooling – but you can definitely speed up the process.
He’s probably only worried because he wants the best for all of you – don’t treat that like a bad thing.
2. Don’t overwhelm him
You may want to talk homeschooling theory and ideas for hours every day.
He probably doesn’t. You’re overwhelming him by talking too much, using terms he probably doesn’t fully understand, and ideas he’s not ready for.
And if you keep doing it, you’re going to make him resistant to everything homeschooling.
When his eyes glaze, stop. Change the subject. Talk about a few important points and leave the rest.
I know it’s hard when you’re obsessed about an important topic, but it’s working against your mission. Just. Stop.
3. Honour his concerns
If he brings up concerns, don’t immediately argue against them and tell him why they’re silly. Concerns are related to our emotions and aren’t easily dismissed with logic – especially if you think the other person is not really listening to you because they’re fixated on their own mission.
His concerns might include:
- whether you can afford to homeschool
- your ability to educate
- your ability to handle all the work and stress
- whether homeschooling is legal
- accessing university or other further education
- that your child will miss out on certain things
These are all valid, right? He’s not being difficult, he just cares.
Be prepared. Listen properly. Let him explain. Ask him if there’s anything he can think of to address his concerns. Suggest a few ideas if he’s open to them. Introduce him to the idea of deschooling.
If he feels that you listen to him, understand him, and are willing to properly address his concerns, he’s much more likely to relax and give you more freedom.
4. Ease into it
Homeschooling as school at home might be something he can get his head around. It matches what he knows. It reassures him because it’s the socially accepted way of getting an education. He can feel reasonably confident that his child will learn from workbooks when kept to a school curriculum and schedule.
But radical unschooling? Maybe he’s not quite ready for that just yet. #understatement
You may have spent endless hours reading books and blogs and receiving reassurance and ideas from experienced parents. He hasn’t. If you start bringing up the more out-there ideas, like ignoring the national curriculum and letting your child decide what they learn, you’re going to freak him out and get resistance.
Instead, start with what he knows and gradually expand as he gets comfortable with that. If that includes a structured schedule and workbooks, roll with that for a while.
5. Help him learn from other people’s examples
If he’s agreeable, give him books and blogs to read. Take him along to homeschool groups so he can meet homeschooling parents and talk about their experiences. Get him to meet and observe homeschooled children, who are usually a pretty good advertisement for homeschooling. If you look past the multicoloured hair and funny clothes, they tend to be very kind, well-spoken, and confident.
If he sees that other people can homeschool and produce children he’d be happy to have, he’s more likely to believe you can do it too.
6. Help him learn from your own examples
Your child can be the best advertisement. The proof is in the pudding, even if you’ve barely begun!
If you’re not yet homeschooling, do a few child-chosen activities when they have the time and energy. If you’re already homeschooling, use activities you’re already doing.
Either way, get your husband and child talking about what they’ve learned.
Prompt your child in a natural way. ‘Why don’t you tell dad what you learned about volcanoes today?’ or ‘How about you show dad the castle you built today?’ Or you can suggest to your husband ‘He got really excited about bees today. Ask him about it!’
Once most people see natural learning in action, they’re converted. If your child is having several intelligent conversations with their father every week, showing what they’ve learned and created, it gives concrete evidence that homeschooling is working.
And generally, the conversations are much more exciting that the ‘What did you learn at school today?’ ones. It’s quite fun to hear an incredibly excited six-year-old talk non-stop for ten minutes about the siege of Troy!
7. Suggest a trial homeschooling period
Maybe the thought of homeschooling or unschooling for the next decade seems totally overwhelming (which is fair enough). But perhaps six months is something he can accept.
Negotiate. Set a trial period. Talk about the expectations both of you have for this period:
- What do you expect to happen?
- What changes and growth do you expect in your child?
- How will you know if it’s working?
- How will you know if it’s NOT working?
This is NOT something that you both enter determined to have the results prove that your way is correct. Look at it like scientists – you don’t know what the outcome will be, but you’re curious to find out.
He can relax, knowing that homeschooling needs to prove itself before it becomes permanent. And you can throw yourself into proving that you can do a great job.
8. Focus on the positives, not the negatives
Unless your child has been through a terrible experience at school, don’t demonise school. Even if they have been through a terrible experience, stick to the facts and what actually happened.
- Don’t tell him that school produces uniform robots that will obey the 9-5 blindly so they can further the industrial capitalist agenda.
- Don’t show him videos of people tearing apart the school system.
- Don’t give him articles that deride school.
- Don’t collect information about every school shooting that’s every occurred and wave it in his face.
Unless you WANT him to dig his heels in, of course.
Instead, show him what homeschooling can achieve. Talk about all the great things you’ll do, without exaggerating. Talk about the activities that your homeschooling group does, that chance your child will get to study the areas that really interest them, and how much you’re looking forward to spending time together and having a really close relationship. Tell him about the children who have achieved academic and social success during and after homeschooling.
Make homeschooling seem like a turn towards a positive, rather than an escape from a negative. It’s much nicer to picture a bright future than be scared of something gloomy.
Think about it – if your husband was trying to convince you to follow his crazy ideas, you’d prefer the above approach, right? So put these ideas together, show him how brilliant and non-scary homeschooling can be, and your husband will soon be as in love with homeschooling as you are.
Hopefully. I have my fingers crossed for you.
And you never know – in six months he might be the one suggesting you throw out the maths books!
If you have any approaches that worked, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
P.S. True story – my husband brought up homeschooling, and had to convince ME. It didn’t take much, but he wanted me to point that out to you.