Topic | Father & Mother As Teachers

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  • Sean

    Hello SCM Community,

    My name is Sean; my wife’s name is Courtney, and we are the parents of 4 beautiful sons (ages 9, 8, 7, and 5). We have a passion to homeschool starting this fall, yet we know that we have many obstacles to consider in preparing for a successful experience for everyone in the family.

    First, my wife and I have a strong desire to take a ‘dual teacher’ approach to training up our boys in the ways of the Lord. We are praying toward making necessary shifts with our jobs in order to free up time for BOTH of us to actively employ Charlotte Mason’s wonderful methods in our home. We believe that this approach will present both challenges AND helps for our family, but we feel that the helps will far outweight the challenges. Any advice on approaching homeschool with two active/alternating teachers(Mom/Dad) is welcome 🙂

    Secondly, our eldest son (9) has an epilepsy disability which he has had since he was 3. His condition has caused him to suffer regressions in cognition, behavior, and general motor skills. This was another great motivation for us to ‘tag team’ homeschooling. He has severe dietary restrictions, wets the bed regularly, … among other daily difficulties, making it very challenging for one parent to handle alone.

    Lastly, my wife also struggles from severe chronic pains due to a full spinal fusion surgery 18 months ago. In winter particularly, it is all she can do to get her body moving well in the morning. Thus, our restructuring our work schedules/commitments around her needs and the support she needs while also meeting the children’s educational, emotional, and spiritual needs at home.

    I understand that our specific situation may not fit anyone else’s verbatim, but we would appreciate any practical helps on the following:

    1. Absolute essential items to read, buy, study, research in lieu of starting homeschool this fall (7 months)

    2. Practical ideas on integrating our special needs child into Whole Family subjects

    3. General advice on co-homeschooling with your spouse 🙂    We can’t wait to get started!

    Thank you all for what you do. Your impact on families is eternal.




    Both parents taking a part in teaching can work well. My husband and I have 10 children, 3 girls and 7 boys, who have always been homeschooled. In my family we have had years where my husband took responsibility for specific subjects and I took responsibility for others. For example, he taught science all year but I taught math all year. We have also had times where he has stepped in to oversee school work while I am at the hospital or doctors for our 7th child, who has many medical needs and has had more than 20 surgeries. It is doable.

    Medical challenges are a stress, for sure. I would encourage you to seek out as many small solutions as you can to ease the difficulties. For example, you mentioned bed wetting for your 9yo. Consider finding a bedtime solution to keep the bed dry so that there is less laundry/cleanup to do. As he is over age 4, most insurance companies will cover diapers/pull ups/continence pads with a doctor’s prescription. They would put you in contact with a medical supply company that would mail supplies to your house on a monthly basis. My suggestion is for the very first time you ask for a small variety of brands/sizes to try out, so you can find what fits well for your child. Other helps for this – a prescription for chux pads (absorbent changing pads hospitals put on beds, sometimes called underpads) can go on his bed at night to help try to keep the bed dry. There are washable versions of this too.

    As for integrating your child with special needs into the family studies, most things work. What mental age/maturity would you say he functions at? For example, would you compare him to a 3 year old, 5 year old, 7 year old? When considering learning activities, ignore his physical age and consider his functional age. Ex: if he’s functioning like a 4 year old, expect him to be able to listen along to family reads, get distracted, play, enjoy looking at picture study or listening in on composer study, but not doing reading or written work. Meet him where he is at. Is he in any therapies (physical or occupational)? Set goals with them on what skills are appropriate to work on for him. Maybe he’s learning to hold writing utensils correctly, or he’s working on letter formation, or letter recognition/reading. Maybe he struggles with number sense, so you always provide hands on math manipulatives for him to work math problems with.

    Essential things to read/buy/study – go to the Learn and Discuss tab at the top of this website. Explore the Learning Library, choosing the Article Series option. There are series of articles on getting started and they are excellent.

    One thing to consider in any materials you choose to use is how easy it is for you. In some subjects you may prefer a very laid out curriculum that holds your hand and tells you what to do and say. (Ex: All About Reading is open and go, on any day you can open the teacher’s manual and it literally tells you what to say and do with your child.) In other subjects you may be comfortable with less guidance. (Ex: Reading aloud a great book set in the historical time period you want to study, instead of formal ‘history lessons’ and worksheets like some curricula use.)

    Enjoy the journey!


    I just wanted to say Tristan, you are an amazing mama and I always love your posts packed with practical and do-able advice! 🙂

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