Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dads Can Make A Difference

In this "Tools of the Trade" feature from the February edition of the Scoop, Mark Greenelsh shares some neat ways that he is striving to make a difference in the education of his daughter, Hannah. . . .

At the last Parent Inspiration and Encouragement ( P.I.E.) meeting we discussed ways that fathers can help in their children's education since in most SLO Classical Academy homes, mothers are the primary homeschool teachers. Several suggestions were shared including viewing homeschooling as a lifestyle, being flexible and creative in how to achieve educational outcomes, praising and appreciating your wife for all she is able to do and not worrying about the less important stuff falling to the wayside, making a family reading time a priority, and finding a practical subject that dads enjoy and can teach their kids (like how to build something, how things work, or physical education).


One other suggestion for dads that the group wanted to share with parents that weren't at the meeting is setting a few overarching goals for your children's education and then being intentional each day in crafting those into a noteworthy composition. Your child's curricula are like the colorful threads that form a tapestry. But the goals pull the individual threads together and weave them into a beautiful design. Addressing the goals suits fathers' schedules because it doesn't necessitate knowing specifically what their child is learning academically on a particular day. Here is a simple example: one goal we have is for our kids is to become effective communicators. So we have made a point in our family of not saying the word "like" unnecessarily. Every time someone does, we stop him and ask him to rephrase his statement. We keep this lighthearted and the kids are onboard with it. They enjoy "catching" each other when it happens. Another goal we have is to become a complex thinker. So at dinner time I might select some news or an event and ask our daughters to tell me what they think about it, and if they were in charge how they would solve it or prevent it. Work on the tapestry every day, but weave it into your lifestyle. Hopefully you can brainstorm effective methods and provocative questions at work, during lunch, while commuting, or on the spur of the moment when the opportunity arises.


Following are seven educational goals we have for our family that aren't tied to a core academic outcome. We have a few more, but hopefully these are sufficient to help you establish goals for your family. The first six are goals from the high school where I teach. We felt compelled to adopt the seventh in order to gratefully acknowledge
and respond to a truth and purpose beyond ourselves. Our family wants each person to become:

* AN EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATOR One who successfully receives and imparts information through speaking, writing, reading, listening, fine arts, and technology.

One who accesses a variety of resources; looks for multiple solutions to a problem; is intellectually curious; uses creative and critical thinking; applies complex problem solving processes and critical thinking to real life.

One who uses time, resources, and technology to create excellent work.

One who makes valid judgments about what to learn, how to learn it, and assesses the result; makes wise choices considering the consequences of those choices; develops significant goals.

One who uses appropriate social skills to work effectively with people varying in gender, race, attitudes, ability, and cultural background with consideration and mutual respect.

One who contributes time, energy, and talents to improve quality of life for himself, his school and his community.

One who humbly finds his greatest pleasure in God and making God known by laying down one's life to extend God's justice, mercy, and love to others.


Dads play a vital role alongside their wives in their children's education. Your family needs you as a servant leader. Diligently finding ways to support your wife and intentionally helping your children become lifelong learners is well worth the effort. Engage your kids. Enjoy the process. Equip them through your unique strengths to make a positive impact in our world.

--Mark Greenelsh, husband to Rhonda and father to Hannah (11), Grace (5) and Weston (2). This is their first year at SLO Classical Academy; Hannah enjoys being in fifth grade.

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