As I watch tennis, my favorite spectator sport, I can’t help but see similarities between tennis and homeschooling. Here are some of the ways in which homeschooling is like tennis:
- Few people get into it. There is a rush to sign up for football, baseball, basketball, and swimming. Not that many people sign up for tennis. Same with homeschooling. Even after a pandemic, homeschoolers don’t represent 1/4 of the population, let alone a majority.
- Tennis is very technical. Before touching a racket or a ball, kids at the tennis academy in Moscow learn the serving motion for six months. That’s right. They come to “tennis practice” and do not touch a racket for six months. They do some exercises to strengthen their bodies and then they repeat in slow motion the arm movement for the serve. Then, they learn the body positions for a forehand and a backhand. If the technique is not there, a racket would simply hinder the learning. Homeschooling is very technical. You have to find the right curriculum for each subject, understand your children’s learning styles, adapt for their minds, and always keep different methods in play.
- Tennis is very mental. Once you acquire the physical body of an athlete and the technical details of the game of tennis, it is all about your mind. The first 100 pro tennis players in the world all have the same tools in their bags. What differentiates them from each other is how they think about themselves and their potential. A lot of them work with sports psychologists and then start having results. If you think you are a champion, you will become one. Homeschooling is very mental. When people around you mock you or disrespect you or silently disapprove of your choice to homeschool, you have to learn to ignore the haters and the naysayers. You have to believe in yourself and your calling. You have to learn to tune out the negative messages that even you come up with after a difficult day, when you feel discouraged.
- Tennis involves lots of money and traveling. I know, I know. We tell people homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive and you don’t have to sign up for classes outside the home and blah blah blah. But the reality of it is that after a certain age children want friends. It is easier to make friends if you attend a co-op or orchestra or a sports program or ballet classes or art classes in town. All of that means money and traveling. If a family cannot afford such costs, they are blessed beyond belief. They stay home and read library books – always a worthy pursuit. Those of us who can afford things, well, our lives get complicated by all the classes outside the home and all the driving we have to do.
- Tennis gives you lots of painful losses and some exhilarating victories. Homeschooling delivers about the same amount of stress and exhilaration. Some days you question your life choices and want to hail down the yellow school bus. On good days, you thank God for giving you the opportunity to stay home with your children in order to educate them.
- Tennis rewards people who keep the faith (in themselves, their game, passion, and vision). Same with homeschooling. Grit shall save you. Keep on keeping on and you will see results. Don’t let one bad day kill your dream.
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