I like homeschooling a lot more than I like exercising. That’s probably obvious to you based on my blog posts. After all, this is a homeschool blog. And aside from my one random Hot Pants post, I never talk about fitness.
But I’ve discovered that homeschooling is like exercising in many ways.
1. Small, repeated investments have a big pay off in the long term.
Going to the gym doesn’t instantly give you the figure you’re longing for. (I wish!) But a commitment to exercise will show dramatic results if you stick with it — even if it is only 20 minutes a day, three times a week. Homeschool is like that. Short, daily lessons like Charlotte Mason recommended seem to be insignificant. But they build a foundation of learning which reaps huge dividends.
Some days we jump from ten minutes of artist study to ten minutes of poetry to fifteen minutes of grammar. Are we really accomplishing anything? Yes, we are. There is power in a little done often. And with short lessons there is no time to get burned out or bored.
2. If you don’t do it right, you are just wasting your time.
With exercise, if you do it wrong, you can actually hurt yourself instead of contribute to your wellness. I certainly don’t want to perpetuate any fear on the part of homeschool moms that they are teaching their children in the “wrong” ways. But every mom should carefully evaluate how she makes her educational decisions.
Are the methods you use in line with the educational goals you have? Are you spinning your wheels with methods that don’t work or that sap the love of learning from your child? Are you in a rut? Just like you ask the advice of a trainer when you’ve reached a plateau in your fitness efforts, sometimes a homeschool mom needs to seek the advice of a mentor or read a how to homeschool book.
3. Although you can spend a fortune, the necessities are very inexpensive.
I am amazed at how much you can spend on exercise — fancy clothes, gym memberships, exercise equipment, dietary supplements, and pedometers. But to get fit, all you need are a pair of tennis shoes and a place to walk. It’s really that simple.
Homeschool is exactly the same. You can easily spend a thousand dollars on a child for a year’s worth of homeschool curriculum. But homeschool can also be accomplished with Internet access, a library card, and a much more modest budget. Flashy doesn’t necessarily mean better. It’s just flashier. And expensive.
And let’s be honest. It’s a lot more fun to shop for cute workout clothes than it is to actually exercise. Right? How many of you love researching and shopping for curriculum more than the actual teaching of the lessons? Don’t let a lack of frills keep you from making your homeschool experience great. Start with what you have and keep it simple.
4. There is a high that comes — if you keep going.
I always read about endorphins that come when you exercise. But not until the last couple of years have I experienced the high that you can get from exercise. The reason I never believed in them is that I would get sweaty and stop long before the endorphins had a chance to be released. To get the good feelings, you have to press through the pain.
Homeschool is like that too. Some days it feels dull and lifeless. Some days you fight with your kids. But if you keep pressing on, those endorphins will kick in. In homeschool, the endorphins are a love of learning and a close relationship with your children. When they kick in, you know you’ve made the right decision to educate your children at home.
Do you see any more parallels between exercise and homeschool? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
(Thanks to Robert S. Donovan for the great shoe image I used under a Creative Commons license.)