A Charlotte Mason Homeschool Dad’s Story

Many times we focus on the mom in a Charlotte Mason homeschool. We usually focus on the moms, because they’re often the ones doing the bulk of the teaching in a homeschool. But homeschooling affects both parents. And we thought you might like to hear one dad’s story about the Charlotte Mason home school in his home.

Many of you know Karen Smith from her helpful nature study posts and printed resources. Today we’re going to chat with her husband Doug.

Sonya: Doug, thanks for joining us.

Doug: Hi, great to be here.

Sonya: Now, let me ask you this. Who decided to homeschool?

Doug: Karen did. Before our children were even school age, with our first one she said, “I want to homeschool.” She knew it right off the bat.

Sonya: And how did you feel about that?

Doug: I was all for it. I knew a little bit about homeschooling—not real familiar with the nuts and bolts of it, but I knew that that could be a beneficial thing.

Sonya: So when she started in using the Charlotte Mason approach, it looked different from the way most of us had been schooled, I’m sure. What were your first impressions of Charlotte Mason?

Doug: Oh, I was clueless. In fact, in those earlier years, she would do most of the schooling and I would say, “I support you.” And that was about my involvement at that point.

Sonya: You were working full-time.

Doug: I was, yes.

Sonya: Away from home. So you probably didn’t see a lot of it?

Doug: Correct, I did not. I would see a little bit when she would talk about the curriculum that she wanted to use and some of those things. So she would educate me a little at a time on those.

Sonya: Over the years, what are some ways that you were able to get up to speed on Charlotte Mason and get involved yourself?

There was something helpful in seeing a whole lot of other families, a whole lot of other dads, there—that we’re not doing this alone, there are others doing that on this journey with us.

Doug: It was a little at a time. But one of the big turning points was when Karen convinced me to go along with her and you and John to a homeschool convention.

Sonya: Yes. I think not too many of our viewers know that we, our two families, have been friends for 30 years, and you guys are the co-founders of Simply Charlotte Mason. I remember that convention up in Chicagoland.

Doug: And I’m still not sure if Karen told me that John was going at the same time that you told John that I was going—so we’d both go.

Sonya: We’ll never tell.

Doug: But it was a great experience for a couple of reasons. There was specific content that was aimed at the fathers, and we went to some workshops that were for that purpose. There were some good workshops on the overall philosophy of homeschooling and why you want to do that. But there was also, I guess, a camaraderie. There was something helpful in seeing a whole lot of other families, a whole lot of other dads, there—that we’re not doing this alone, there are others doing that on this journey with us.

Sonya: As you went through that journey, did you find yourself getting more and more involved in the day-to-day homeschooling or was your work a factor?

Doug: My work was a factor. So I didn’t do a lot of the day-to-day, but I got to be involved in special projects. Sometimes they would be doing something and then they would demonstrate that to me: they may narrate something to me or recite something to me or just tell about what their day was like.

Sonya: Did Karen give you a heads up: “Hey, I want this kid to narrate. Ask him about the such and such”?

Doug: Not usually. She would have something ready, prepared, that they would know they were going to do. But the other thing is being involved in special projects—topics that maybe Karen wasn’t as well versed in. I did a little bit of teaching on electronics, about using computers.

Sonya: You did the Driver Ed.

Doug: I did the Driver Ed, yes. That was frightening. But yeah.

Sonya: You survived.

Doug: We survived.

Sonya: And your kids drive; so yes, pretty good.

Doug: I also did some things with business. We were developing Simply Charlotte Mason at the time, so we were reading business books and learning some things. Our children were teens at that point. I was assigning them business books on occasion that we would discuss. So, some of those auxiliary subjects that were not part of the core school, I got to be involved with that.

Sonya: For any dad who might be reading this now—maybe he is researching whether they want to use a Charlotte Mason approach to their home school, or maybe he’s in there already and they’re using a Charlotte Mason approach—but he’s trying to figure out how he can be more involved or what his role might be. Do you have anything you’d like to say to those dads?

Doug: I would say, take some time to learn a little bit. And let me back up from just Charlotte Mason back to homeschooling in general, because all of the dads may not be fully onboard there yet and wondering, Is this effective? I would suggest looking up some of the research by Dr. Brian Ray. He’s done a lot of things on the effectiveness of homeschooling, and for my analytical brain, that was good material for me. And he continues to do research today.

Sonya: Yes, he updates it throughout the years.

Doug: But from a Charlotte Mason perspective, because it is a different way of schooling, learn a little bit about that and how it’s different from our experience. My experience was coming up in the public school, so I didn’t know about narration and its effectiveness and how that worked. And let me just say, I saw some pieces of that in my children that helped me to have an understanding. I want to tell one story about that.

Sonya: Please do.

My experience was coming up in the public school, so I didn’t know about narration and its effectiveness and how that worked.

Doug: I wondered what my kids were learning as far as history, for example. I’d been around a little bit and seen them reading things together, but “How much do they actually know?” You kind of wonder that sometimes. Well, there was a time when they were all huddled around the computer, and we had a program on the computer where they could create stories and put characters on the screen and make them talk. They were just giggling and having a great time—out of control. So I went over to see what was going on. They were writing stories that were parodies of history. If you can parody something, you’ve got it.

Sonya: You’ve got it.

Doug: So that really gave me a glimpse that they were learning something in a very thorough way that stuck. And that kind of turned on a light bulb for me with the Charlotte Mason Method and made me want to research a little bit more. A good place to go for that, maybe, is some of our videos. We have a few that give a quick synopsis of it.

Sonya: Well, thanks for joining us, and thanks for being involved in your kids’ home school. I benefit, because one of your sons is my son-in-law. And it’s such a joy to have you and Karen onboard with Simply Charlotte Mason.

Doug: We enjoy it. Thank you.