How the Olympics Can Bring the Gold to Your Homeschool

How the Olympics Can Bring the Gold to Your Homeschool

By Donna Vail

Have you ever had this experience: you’re working with your children and for one reason or another they just refuse to do their work? This struggle often results in a loss of inspiration for those basic subjects that require work. What you need to know is how to get your children studying again without the struggle.

I teach my clients the importance of staying with it. No matter what, stay in the flow of inspiration to prevent your everyday tasks from slipping into “have to’s” and “get it done to check it off” mentality. Remember, children model what they see and it be like this for your child if you’re allowing it for yourself. That’s when the struggles surmount and chaos ensues.

Let’s be honest; there are tasks in learning that can be daunting, downright painful and downright incomprehensible. Whether it’s memorizing math facts, completing 30 math problems or writing a full page, if you feel like your mind is totally blank you’re not going to move forward.  What it really boils down to is thinking. If your child’s mind is on running wild in the sun and wind or anything other than the task at hand, there will be conflict. As a parent it’s your job to manage that conflict to get your child back on track. I assist my clients with just how to handle that very scenario to minimize the struggle and maximize productivity and learning, getting everyone back on track.

“You have to train your mind like you train your body.” –Bruce Jenner, gold medalist in decathlon in 1976

What you are embarking upon is not a struggle between parent and child, but rather between you and your mindset and your child’s. I will pick on math here for a bit because it seems to be the one complained about the most. On the surface, mathematics is a lot of calculating and logical work, but at the core math requires a strong mindset and character to finish. I believe there is a lot more to learn in math than numbers. When you really think about it, it’s not that hard to memorize math facts, but for those who are persistent not only will they make steady progress in math, they will achieve strength in character.

The 2012 Olympic Games in London is in full swing and it’s perfect event to exemplify the spirit of winning that is achieved by commitment.  These amazing athletes are competing on the world stage because of hard work and dedication. They were influenced by modeling the examples of other successful athletes and their mentors/coaches.  I’m sure by now you have been amazed at some of the performances and new world records set. It’s important that we discuss with our children that these athletes did not become Olympians over night. This has taken many years, day in and day out; long hours and for some their whole life to reach this achievement. Watching these stories introducing us to these Olympians and their diverse and rich backgrounds reveal how they’ve trained is inspiring and serves as a reminder that it takes focused effort every single day to move forward and reach success.

Did the gymnastic Olympic hopefuls ever get discouraged or tired of doing the same flip 500 times, over and over? Sure they did. They are surrounded by coaches and parents who are there to help keep their mindset up, remain true to their goals and do the work and achieve success. And while they are working so hard, sometimes six or eight hours a day, they still had  their academics to do.

Here’s a list of just some of the athletes who are homeschooled or were homeschooled during their schooling years: In diving – David Boudia, Haley Ishimatsu, Thomas Finchum, Kelci Bryant and Anna James. In gymnastics – Danell Levya, McKayla Maroney, John Orozco and Gabrielle Douglas. Arielle Martin in cycling and Kayla Harrison in judo were also homeschooled. In fact, I’m sure there are more to this list and you can access a list of many at Use it as a list to access more about these Olympians if you and your children are interested more reading.

We cannot escape the magnanimity of everyday living. While we are advanced in our ways and no longer physically chop wood and carry water; we still have to meet our basic survival needs of food, shelter and well being.  In our day to day there are dishes to wash, meals to prepare, a living to be made, and a home to keep us safe and warm. Children are faced with the need to focus in on learning their basics for life to prepare them for independent living in this society. Just like the dishes, we have to do math, reading and writing, but academics don’t have to full in the category of the mundane. If we connect learning to our children’s highest values, learning will be fun and your children will greet their academics with an eagerness for more.  We can take great pride in what we do, put our best into it and grow to greater possibilities because how we do anything is how we do everything.

Time to get inspired and into your parent partnership with your child:

  1. Be in touch with your children by being fully present when they have a concern or complaint about their school work. Sometimes it comes disguised in “I don’t understand this at all,” “I’m not good at math,” “This doesn’t work,” or pure avoidance of the work. Don’t get emotional about it, just notice it, be open and present.
  2. Talk with your child that you hear what he is saying. Tie in a discussion about his favorite Olympian or simply explain how these Olympians train and maintain the “I can do anything” mindset with a laser focus.
  3. Tie the academic they have a complaint with to one of their highest values. A gymnast will greatly improve her abilities the better she understands math as the geometric order of gymnastics.
  4. Create a plan that will support their success. Create the time and space for focused study that is honored and respected by everyone in the home consistently. This means every day! (Read more about how to do this in the next More For Mom article later this week.)
  5. Be the model for their success. This means you have to be the change you want to see in them. It’s going to be easier if you work on yourself and allow the osmosis to occur naturally. It’s time you have your own field of study, self-improvement, workout plan, or focused effort to increase the success of your business or work. How you do anything is how you do everything and they are watching you. Be sure it’s what you want to show up in them.
  6. Be fully invested in their success. You may have to be willing to sit and do your reading or studying while they are doing theirs. When you show them that you are willing to do the work then they are more easily willing. Athletes and the most successful have models and mentors they look up to. We are the models and mentors for our children so it’s imperative that we give them something to look up to us for.

“I’m trying to do the best I can. I’m not concerned with tomorrow, but with what goes on today.” –Mark Spitz, 1972 gold medalist in swimming, 1968 and silver and bronze medalist

I love that quote by Mark Spitz because he so clearly expresses that we have to focus in on today and do the work, do what it takes and give it our best. Tomorrow will come so let’s make it better by what we do today. This means bringing the gold to your homeschool and reaching the heights you desire.

Parents Inspired to Action:

  • Check in with yourself to be sure you are coming from a place of partnership when you relate with your children. Be fully present, hear what they are saying because they are giving you feedback and asking for your help and guidance.
  • Take time to watch the Olympics on television or the Internet. Listen to some of the stories athletes are sharing of their challenges and wins. This will give you more insight into mentoring your child in his academics.
  • Create a quiet space and time for real study. It may be just an hour or so for younger children and increase to 3-6 hours for older children as they get into more in-depth studies. They need you to provide, guide and step aside.


Children Inspired to Action:  

  • Watch the Olympics on television or the Internet. Also tune into the personal stories to connect with and understanding the athletes.
  • Identify your child’s top 3-5 values and link these to their academics so they can also value the subjects they don’t see so clearly as beneficial.
  • Look for more to learn about the Olympics, British life, culture and customs by visiting

Who is your favorite athlete in the London 2012 Summer Olympics? How has this athlete influenced you and your family in your homeschool and life?  Please join our inspired families share by leaving a comment below.

It shouldn’t be a lot of work or take hours and hours each day to create the homeschool you desire. That’s why I created the Mentor Mastery Inner Circle. It’s an easy way to stay focused on your homeschool and family, creating the balance you desire with education, work and life. Whether you’re a new to homeschooling or a long-time homeschooler looking to simplify, I highly recommend joining the Mentor Mastery Inner Circle so you can easily grow your homeschool and life each week. It keeps you inspired and you receive coaching directly from Donna in the critical areas needed to successfully set up and execute simple and effective homeschool systems providing an education in excellence while creating family harmony. It’s easy. It’s affordable. Get started today at



About Donna Vail

Donna Vail is an education-parenting specialist, coach, mompreneur, homeschooling mother of six children, author and founder of An Inspired Education. She helps families create a lifestyle of true freedom by balancing education, work and life through self-education, entrepreneurship and inspiration. She is a highly sought after consultant for her successful guidance and resources that enable parents to let go of traditional parenting and education models, creating a lifestyle of learning where the whole family flourishes. You can find more of her resources at

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