Some of you may remember this post from last year. Here it is again, focusing on Cycle 1.
Hey, CC Dads. July is nearing an end, which means that the 2015-2016 academic year is upon us. In just a few weeks, our wives and kiddos will be loading up in the van once a week to head to the local Classical Conversations campus for their community day. Their summer schedule will end. Their school year schedule will begin, and most of our schedules will continue unabated. We will go to work at the same time every morning and come home at the same time in the evening (unless you work the 2nd or 3rd shift.) The day-in/day-out schedule of a working man is not too terribly exciting, but we’re not complaining; a status quo of work is good to have—day-in/day-out.
This can cause a “disconnect” between us and our families as the new school year begins. After all, it’s their lives that are changing, not ours, right? But what if that is entirely the wrong attitude to have—so entirely wrong that we could call it an unbiblical attitude? After all, the Apostle Paul told fathers“to raise their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4) Our wives have been given to us as blessed helpers, but they’re helping us with the mandate that God has bestowed upon us. If this “disconnect” that seems so intrinsic, so seemingly unavoidable, between homeschool dads and their homeschool families is unbiblical, then it is one that can certainly be avoided.
Do you want to avoid the “disconnect” this fall? Do want to get plugged-in and stay plugged-in for the whole 24 weeks of Foundations and Essentials? If so, I have an idea.
Lean in close, and I’ll whisper it…
…pursue becoming a Memory Master.
Yep. You heard me right. You could pursue becoming a Memory Master. If you remember, the Memory Master track is “where a student strives to memorize all the information for that year.” If you want to stay involved in your children’s education—involved in their lives—there may not be any better way than to learn every, single, cotton-pickin’ thing that they are going to learn this year. It will take time. It will take effort. And it will have practical benefits in your home on at least three distinct fronts: your kids, your wife, and yourself.
Your attempt to become a Memory Master will be good for your kids. One reason it will be good for them is that you will be voluntarily taking an interest in the things they are being required to take an interest in. You will be showing them by your actions that you highly value the education you are making them receive. Those things that you esteem highly are going to be the things that they esteem highly.
Another reason it will be good for your kids is that they will be better at it than you. They will be learning the grammar "with the grain" of their developmental stage, while you will be working very hard to overcome your old-age. It will take you several more listens through the songs to get them down, but don’t let it beat you—you’re a man; buck up and stick it through to the end. Also, many of your children will have already gone through Cycle 1, and you’ll be playing catch-up big-time. They will enjoy this; you can humble yourself and enjoy it, too.
Your attempt to become a Memory Master will be good for your wife. Do you even know how much work she puts into homeschooling your children? Does she know that you value what she’s doing? You will be showing your wife that you highly regard the effort she is putting forth to drill all this memory work with your kids. You will also be taking some of the burden off of her, because you will be drilling with them in the evenings, or in the mornings, or in the van, or in the store (shoppers in Wal-Mart love the Timeline song.) If you take my advice, you will go from being that aloof dad who simply pays the bills to being “Hero Dad”; “the Dad above all Dads”; or at least “the Best Dad this side of the Mississippi.” Seriously, your involvement in the Foundations memory work will strengthen your wife’s resolve, while making it easier for her as you take some of the load.
Your attempt to become a Memory Master will be good for you. More than likely, you received an education similar to mine, which means you didn’t learn very much. We definitely did not learn how to learn. It would do us good to start back at the beginning at “Square One”—with the grammar. Through the Cycle 1 memory work you will be reminded of things you learned many moons ago, and you will most certainly learn things you did not know before. You will also strengthen your brain in general. It is quite possible it has atrophied since you left school. (Start slowly, so you don’t pull a brain muscle.)
Far more important than the data you will learn, or even the renewed flexibility of your brain muscle, is the time you will spend with your family. For the reasons mentioned above, this will have a positive impact on your family. Your wife and kids will clearly see that you are stepping out of your bubble and into theirs. Like Jesus, you will become incarnate in their lives. You will be there, struggling with them as they struggle, and rejoicing with them when the work is accomplished. Like Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, you will be on your knees, while nobly leading them at the same time.
I honestly cannot think of a down-side to this proposal. This may mean less SportsCenter. This may mean less Facebook scrolling. This may mean less time in your shop, but this will mean that you will be more involved in the life of your family.
(Concerning whether or not I have taken my own advice, the answer is “yes.” Last fall I began the school year learning the material with my wife and kids with the goal of becoming a Memory Master. As the year went on, the kids left me in the dust, and I never fully recovered. However, I learned more than if I had not tried, and I spent more time with them drilling the material than if I had not tried, and there’s always this year. So, I will begin again.)
Cycle 1 Memory Master, here I come. Who’s with me?