Temperatures hovered around ten degrees night after night. Everyone hoped that the three-foot-deep pond would freeze that winter in 2002. Finally, it did. Four inches thick. Only two problems: my kids didn't know how to ice-skate, and they didn't own any skates ---- yet. That would all change by the end of the week...
I remembered that my neighbor up the street had a son in ice hockey, and had mentioned that she would like to get rid of some of his old skates. I knocked on her door and told her my request. She rummaged through the hall closet and pulled out a pair of well-worn skates that would likely fit an eight-year-old. Thanking her, I hurried home, but didn't tell the twins about the skates. That afternoon, I found another pair on sale for a great price.
Tomorrow's lesson: ice-skating. But, That would be my secret until tomorrow after math...
"Okay, go ahead and complete your math work-sheets because I have a very special plan when you finish," I announced the following day. "Mommy, what is it?" the twins inquired. I smiled and hesitated. Both boys balanced themselves on the very edges of their seats. "Please. Tell us!" they pleaded in unison.
As they leaned forward with wide eyes, I slowly pulled one, two, three, then four hockey skates out from under my desk. The three of us exchanged smiles and laughs as the boys wrapped their skinny arms around me. "Thank you, Mommy!"
Picking up their pencils, they quickly finished the remaining subtraction problems.
The ice was slick. Despite tons of determination, Austin and Justin fell a lot at first. I took time to teach each boy the best I could. They leaned on me as their legs wobbled, arms flailed, and ankles shook. I watched as each boy progressed. At first they shuffled, but after many days, they finally skated. They took off to navigate the pond on their own...
When I was a little girl, my dad taught me to ice-skate on a little pond similar to this one. Now I was doing the same thing.
No one wanted to see the twins succeed more than me. Well, maybe Jay. During those days, I realized that teaching ice-skating wasn't so different than teaching academic subjects. "This is homeschooling," I thought to myself. Teach. Then let them soar...
Each day for about a week, we did school until about one o'clock, then headed through the tall, back-yard grass pathway down to the pond for an hour or so. Sometimes, we invited other homeschoolers to join us.
Although the pond froze again the following winter, it hasn't thoroughly frozen since. In the years that followed, I took the boys to the indoor ice-skating rink, but it wasn't the same. Nothing could beat skating on the little pond -- I still remember how the January air whipped past as we skimmed the ice. It felt great to glide on the ice and burn a few calories.
... I can still feel each boy's arms around my shoulders and waist as they held tight until they learned to skate -- until they took off.
The reason I share this story isn't to encourage you to ice-skate, although I think it's a great winter sport. It's to encourage you to look at the physical aspect of your child's education and to provide a variety of opportunities for them to improve coordination whether it's to shoot baskets, hit the tennis ball, play a fast game of ping-pong, or simply to run around the block.
Also, in sharing the story, I hope to inspire you to teach well -- because one day, you, too will watch your children 'take off'!
Have a wonderful day! God bless you.