If you and your spouse have shared the teaching responsibilities at your house, you have probably experienced this phenomenon: husbands and wives approach homeschooling from very different perspectives.
Here is a typical scenario: Dad goes off to work each day, earning the paycheck that makes homeschooling possible, and Mom is the primary teaching parent. One day when Dad is not at work, Mom’s normal teaching duties are handled by Dad. Mom may be sick in bed with whatever despicable virus has finally caught her unawares, or perhaps Dad has a vacation day, it’s a holiday break, Mom just needs a Me-Day, or fill-in-the-blank other reason that can take Mom away from the action. An efficiently organized Mom may leave a list of the lessons that she feels should be accomplished for the day, but Dad may also scan through the list and do things his way. The children may even think Mom wouldn’t do it this way, and they may or may not voice their opinions aloud, depending on how the day proceeds. Dad will get important things done, but they may not be the same things that are on Mom’s list, or they may not be completed with the same methods or in the same order or in the same time frame that Mom would do them. Husbands and wives approach homeschooling from very different perspectives.
I remember returning home after a day away from my homeschooling role to find that my husband had supervised some of the lessons but allowed the children to handle others on their own—whereas my normal routine might have been to micro-manage every lesson throughout the day. He had completed several household chores during my time off, but they definitely were not the same ones that I would have done, or they were done in an entirely different manner from my normal routine. I do know that it was always a good thing for me to see his very different approach to things: it usually taught me that I could step back and give up a little more of my control and allow others to handle the responsibilities in their own ways. I frequently found myself stuck in the rut of routine, thinking that this job must be done this way, every time. Witnessing my husband’s approach to the same job was very often a delightful revelation of time-saving, energy-saving shortcuts. My focus had been on managing the whole operation at once, concentrating on the end results, where his focus had been on each task individually, revealing unnecessary steps.
Women multitask. God designed women to be nurturers: able to maintain a comfy and cozy home environment, prepare the meals, tend to the baby’s needs, care for the growing children, and so on—all at the same time. Whether or not today’s woman is a stay-at-home mom-of-many, she has the God-given ability to handle multiple tasks at any given time, capably and efficiently.
Men maintain a singular focus. God designed men to be providers and protectors. As hunters and defenders, men must keep their eyes on the objective. Glancing away could mean death through attack or starvation from losing sight of the target. Even though most modern men do not spend every day literally in search of the next meal or fending off predatory enemies, they still approach their day-to-day business with the singular focus that God has placed within them.
Moms and Dads approach homeschooling differently, by God’s design. Moms can teach several kids at once, each child in a different subject, in multiple rooms, while keeping track of laundry cycles and watching the clock to know when to start dinner. On the other hand, Dad can get Junior unstuck from a tricky math problem in under 5 minutes. Then Dad will take Junior out back and teach him how to throw the football in a perfect spiral.
Mom may vent to Dad about her frustration with that day’s homeschooling, giving him a blow-by-blow account of all she did to try to discourage the twins from kicking each other under the table. Dad will quickly see past the details of the squabble and offer the simple solution of putting them in two separate rooms to do their work tomorrow.
Dad may come up with the idea for a great dad-and-lads camp-out for this weekend. Mom will gather all the necessary comforts of home, packing the cooler with sodas and milk, and send along all of the ingredients for making s’mores by the campfire—including clean marshmallow roasting sticks. Dad may protest at Mom’s insistence that they take along the band-aids and antiseptic wipes, but he will use them when Junior skins his knee after tripping on the hiking trail and sliding down the rocky hillside (but it wasn’t all that far, just a few yards).
Moms and Dads bring different sets of skills and talents to the task. Moms are good at cuddling and kissing boo-boos; Dads are good at rough-housing and playing horsey. Dad’s tools are hammers and saws and power-drills; Mom’s tools are rubber spatulas. Moms do have tools called beaters, but they get used for things like eggs and cream. “Changing the oil” may not sound very exciting, but when Dad does it, he gets sufficiently greasy and dirty to satisfy any child lucky enough to be allowed to help him. Moms often plan their lessons and stick to their plan. Dads often walk away from the books and teach lessons from real life. Moms and Dads both make excellent teachers, but we should never expect them to do the same job in the same way, with the same tools, or with the same flourish and finesse. To expect Mom and Dad to teach the same subjects to the same children in the same way is to expect at least one of them to deny the instincts God has placed within them both and to work counter to everything God has programmed them to do and to be.
Consistency in teaching is a good thing, but taking a break now and then is a good thing, too, and children and parents will be blessed by both. Moms and Dads, please recognize that your way and your spouse’s way are both valid, no matter how dissimilar they may be. One way is not necessarily the only right way, and another method is not necessarily a wrong approach. Sometimes different is just different, and variety is the key to learning.