Two years ago my friend invited me to compete with her in a sprint triathlon (750m swim, 20k bike ride, and 5k run.)
I had run a 5k race before. (Sure, it was a decade ago and I hadn’t gotten off the couch since, but anyone can run. Right?!) I out-rode all the neighbor kids on my pink banana seat when I was ten. So I figured I could probably pick up that skill again. (You know what they say about riding a bike...) But swimming. Ugh. Swimming... Bodies of water larger than my kitchen sink scare me almost as much as seeing myself in a bathing suit. (YIKES!)
So, I ran. I biked. I ran. I biked. And I put off training for the swim. A month before race time I realized I really needed to learn to swim. So, I watched YouTube videos on how to swim. I researched good goggles and wet suits. I practiced my strokes in the air. I kicked my legs on the edge of my bed. I did everything I could on dry land to master swimming.
Confident I had swimming figured out, I finally went to the gym pool, found an empty lane and dove in. I did what I had practiced at home. I stroked and kicked and channeled my inner fish. But my bodacious hips were like an anchor and my legs kicked triple time and went nowhere. My arms were flailing about and by the time I reached the other side of the pool I was waterlogged and breathless. I left the gym that day completely disillusioned and learned an important lesson from my titanic maiden voyage-
If you want to learn to swim you are going to have to get wet!
Well, homeschooling is a lot like swimming. Here are some tips for avoiding a belly flop when taking the homeschooling plunge this year.
Lesson 1 - Less is More
You don’t need flippers and snorkel gear and wet suits and goggles and water guns and noodles and beach balls to swim. You could swim in the buff if you had to. Don’t worry about having all the “right” gear for homeschooling. Sifting through all the available curriculum and educational supplies can get overwhelming. All you really need is you and the child. The Master teacher made up stories and wrote in the dirt.
Lesson 2 - Don’t Race with Olympic Swimmers
Learn from the pro’s, but don’t compare yourself to them. If there are awesome homeschool families you know don’t get discouraged that you don’t have it all together like they seem to. They were where you are once and every family is different.
Lesson 3- Dog Paddle When You Need to Catch Your Breath
Life happens. Some years/days/months you may be “Homeschooler of the Year” and sometimes you might give all you’ve got just to keep your head above water. With God’s help it’ll all balance out. Like Dory the fish says, “Just keep swimming...”
Lesson 4- Pace Yourself
It doesn’t matter how fast you finished the first lap if you drown before the end of the race. Homeschooling is exciting! And there are so many things to teach and so many fun things you can do with your kids. The possibilities really open up. It is tempting to try to do everything at once. But, don’t. You’ll thank yourself come January.
Lesson 5- It’s Way More Fun IN The Water
Sometimes I love to hate the people at the pool who are there to sunbathe. How would it be to just go relax by the pool with the latest bestseller, oiling your tan? Thanks to my kids I will never know. Try not to hate your public school buddies who are putting up their feet when the bus rolls away in September. Jumping in with the kids is not very relaxing, but its way more fun!
Lesson 6- Wear Sunscreen
Homeschool burn-out is a real thing. Prevent it. Take care of yourself. Get as much sleep as you can. Go on dates. Take time each day for yourself. Being a homeschool parent is demanding and you’ll really be feeling the burn if you don’t make time for you.
Lesson 7- Relay
If the race is too far, you don’t have to go the distance on your own. Get a relay team! One of my favorite homeschooling tricks is using a co-op. Sometimes it can really make a big difference to team up with a fellow homeschooler and share the load. For example, this year I am teaching art and science to my kids and my friend's family. She will be teaching music and history. By splitting up the subject areas we are able to concentrate a little more teaching effort into a few areas instead of being spread thin over many. And, the kids love learning with friends.
Lesson 8- Swim with Life Guard on Duty
The Holy Ghost can be our companion to help us know how to teach God’s children. Without the Holy Spirit to keep us afloat in these latter days we are likely to be overcome by the choppy waters that surround us. Make sure that you live in a way that you can have Him always on the watch tower. Daily prayer and scripture study are essential.
Lesson 9- You Have to Get Wet to Learn to Swim
All the study, preparation, prayers, supplies, lesson plans in the world can do nothing for us if we don’t DO anything. If you are afraid to fail, worried you’ll mess up, won’t be good enough, don’t have what it takes, etc., take heart. We “receive no witness until after the trial of our faith,” the Lord can “turn our weaknesses into strengths,” and “by small and simple things great things are brought to past.” We won’t be perfect starting out. But we’re not supposed to be. Homeschool is about learning -- for the students and the teacher.
So, friends, let’s make a splash together. Sink or swim, I’m jumping in!
--------- Jana has been testing the water of homeschooling for the last four years, but is finally taking the plunge to teach all her kids at home. (Special thanks to the neighborhood pool lifeguard who doubled as a foot model.) ------------
Originally Posted to Latter Day Homeschooling