Hey, CC Dads.
Once a week, our wives and kiddos load up in the van and head to our local Classical Conversations campus for their community day. Their summer schedule has ended and their school schedule has begun, but as dads, our work schedules continue unabated. We go to work at the same time every morning and come home at the same time in the evening (unless you work the second or third shift.) This day-in/day-out schedule of the working man is not terribly exciting, but we are 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 is 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 “bring [their children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, KJV). Our wives have been given to us as blessed helpers, but they are 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 you want to get plugged-in and stay plugged-in for the whole twenty-four 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 with the grain of the grammar 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 3, 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 your wife 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 Walmart 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”—the grammar stage. Through the Cycle 3 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 downside to this proposal. This may mean less SportsCenter. This may mean less Facebook scrolling. This may mean less time in your shop. However, this will mean that you will be more involved in the life of your family. If you succeed, you will receive a t-shirt, a round of applause, and a pat on the back, but this is not about getting a trophy. This endeavor will not be about you and your memory; it will be about you, your wife, and your kids, and the story God is writing through your lives. This endeavor will be about a dad who understands that he only has a few short years with his kids as kids and he wants to be as involved as he can be in their growth.
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. Plus, there’s always this year. So, I have begun again, and as of writing this article, I am current.
If you are a few weeks into the new school year you have some catching up to do, but it is not too late to begin. You just have to get to work.
Cycle 3 Memory Master, here I come. Who’s with me?