We found a swim program that wasn't too strict about missing practices or going to swim meets and figured this to be a low-stress way to gain a new skill and build endurance. The kids were less than enthused. The groaning began at the first mention of "swim team". Even after careful explanation of our reasons and a promise that this was to be only one summer - just a few times a week for one hour - and then they would never have to swim on a team again - they still didn't want to do it. If we are to embrace an unschooling philosophy I suppose this is where we should have stepped back and allowed them to choose whether or not they wanted to participate. But having never tried it before how would they ever know if they are good at it? or maybe if they like it? or maybe would use it one day to save their lives? The protests continued but we insisted. The first couple of weeks were tough. Let's face it, swimming laps is tiring and hard work. None of them were warming up to the sport. Yet at the first meet, our youngest took first place in backstroke, something she didn't even know how to do a few weeks prior. Our eldest showed promise as well and our son just "got through it" the best he could. After a few more weeks of practice (and A LOT more whining) they got up early for their second meet. This time Emily took first in butterfly and backstroke and swam several relays. Kat was fourth in backstroke which is turning out to be her signature stroke, and James not only swam several relays but he did so without complaint, protest, or whining. He has improved tremendously since the first meet.
Dennis and I remain convinced that pushing them to move beyond their comfort zone and participate in something they didn't really want to do IS a good thing. Sometimes kids just don't know what they are missing or what they are capable of. Next week is another meet and they have already planned which events they want to enter and which ones they want to drop. I can't say they have grown a love for swimming, but I can tell they have a deeper appreciation for what it entails and how it might serve them in the future. I know they feel a sense of accomplishment having competed against their peers and not only finished races but made a good showing too.
As for our homeschool, I will consider this summer experience as one that carries weight when determining what, when, where, and how we will learn. I do agree with the unschooling philosophy of how important it is to listen and respect the educational and recreational wishes of a child; however, we will also do our part as parents to