It seems to me that home schooling is a lot like swimming across a lake.

When you are out in the middle, the lake sometimes seems to be a lot bigger than it looked when you jumped in, and unlike a swimming pool, it has no lines painted on the bottom to keep you swimming in a straight line. When you are fighting to make it through the waves without inhaling too much water, pushing yourself to keep going stroke after stroke when you are exhausted, and blinking to see in spite of the water stinging your eyes, it is possible to lose perspective.

For example, the landmark you were heading for when you began looks different now, or perhaps isn’t visible at all. Perhaps your right arm is stronger than your left, and you have been slowly turning off course, or maybe the landmark you chose is simply too far away, and isn’t easily attainable, at least not for now. To loosely quote William Shakespeare, to turn around and swim back is just as difficult as going on, so we all continue; but it might make our journey more enjoyable and effective if we were to pause now and then and take stock.

The end of a school year is a good time to slow down for a while, stick our head up out of the water, and take a look around.

When you are fighting to make it through the waves without inhaling too much water - kids fighting with each other, you and your spouse not talking things through; pushing yourself to keep going stroke after stroke when you are exhausted - too busy to get a good rest, pray enough, or even consider the Lord enough in a normal day; and blinking to see in spite of the water stinging your eyes - the AB regulation, social services, adversarial neighbours or relatives.... Perhaps your right arm is stronger than your left, and you have been slowly turning off course - the right arm of academics has dominated your life at the expense of character training, spirituality, and life skills... or perhaps the left arm of rich experiences has left no time or energy for academics; or maybe the landmark you chose is simply too far away, and isn’t easily attainable - you want to do every good thing, and it is just too much to fit into one lifetime.

Now, while memory of the past year is still relatively fresh, is a good time to reconsider our landmarks. Did a strong right arm or a strong left arm cause us to deviate from important goals? If so, it is imperative that next year we plan on pausing more often to get our bearings, to see if we are still on course or if a favourite arm is dictating the direction we follow.

It is also useful to question whether or not landmarks that seemed a good idea last Fall are still good ideas. As we get closer to landmarks (or goals) it is possible to see them more clearly. Perhaps some landmarks no longer appear as they did, now that we see (understand) them better; others we have gradually outgrown; and perhaps we realize that some are simply not worth the effort of the swim.

Meanwhile, it is quite possible that there are landmarks we never considered that now are beginning to show great promise. From our vantage of half way through the lake, we can see detail on the opposite shore that simply was not visible from our initial position. As new options open up to us, we are wise to consider them with an open mind. It may even mean a longer swim, but our effort is better spent on a goal of real value; for our inclination to finish what we started, to swim doggedly toward our initial goal, could constitute an unfortunate waste.

Meanwhile, the way we swim could have significant impact upon our success. If we can adopt a stroke that will keep our head up during the times of high waves, we may prove more effective in those times. Perhaps we can better balance our strokes so neither left nor right prevails. Maybe pausing to recollect, reconsider, and refresh will mean that we waste fewer strokes, become healthier in body and soul, and reach our goals sooner.

What did I want last September?

What do I want now?

What should I change?

Happy swimming!

first swim

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