Homeschool PE sometimes gets low priority in curriculum planning, however regular physical activity aides in a great learning experience. These homeschool PE ideas just might inspire you!
“I refuse to teach you…unless you get your blood flowing to your brain and you absorb some sun rays!” Yes, I have said that.
My kids and my co-op students welcomed with smiles my “kicking out of the house/classroom procedure”. If I found children dawdling after lunch, I would escort them to the door. I teasingly would say, bend over and then with all the drama I could muster (which is a lot), pretend to kick them out the door.
“Put down that book and go play outside!” Yes, I have said that too!
Our bodies are designed to mooooooooooove!
Learning is greatly affected by a lack of regular exercise. Sometimes homeschool moms come to me wondering if the learning roadblock they are encountering with their child is because of curriculum choice, educational method, or learning style. Although those are important features to consider, I ask the parent to consider their homeschool routine. More often than not, it’s discovered there are few if any breaks that provide opportunity for physical activity. Making time for regular exercise can fix a lot of learning problems, attitudes, and behavioral issues.
Here are just a few of the benefits of regular physical activity:
*Improved short and long term memory
(You mean…they will remember what I teach today and tomorrow?)
*Improved mood and emotional stability
(hmmm…happier kids…..aaaaand…..a decrease in emotional meltdowns?)
*Improved energy and focus
(Did you say…. pay attention with enthusiasm?)
(Less sick days?)
*Better sleep habits
(More quiet time at night?)
Okay, am I dreaming? Did I just describe the perfect student? And all because I include PE in our homeschool routine? Sign me up!
What does homeschool PE look like? When I first started homeschooling my only frame of reference was my PE days from long ago…
Yes, this romper was my PE uniform. My same age schoolmates and I would cram into the girl’s locker room and don one of these beauties. Undressing before strangers in different developmental stages was emotional torture. Out on the co-ed PE field, a caste system quickly emerged between the kings and queens, otherwise known as star athletes, the lords and ladies, who wished they were kings and queens but resolved they would never be the stars, and the peasants who received jeers and sometimes verbal abuse for their lack of PE performance. What an inspiration for developing a lifelong habit of physical exercise- NOT.
Well, it turns out homeschool PE looks much different than my public school experience.
In homeschooling, we have an opportunity to cultivate a lifelong habit of regular physical activity. Over the years, the Mora household PE program reflected our different seasons of life. Allow me to share our PE journey and some of the reasons we chose various activities.
Thoughts about Team Sports
Initially, we had our children participate in team sports. I have to admit, my husband and I eventually shied away from team sports involvement for our family. One reason was the cost. With a large family, it simply cost too much money to have our kids participate in team sports. It seemed odd to me to pay a lot of money just so our kids could play baseball with friends. Another reason was many of the sport’s events were on Sundays. We were not willing to give up going to church so our kids could play sports. And the final reason we chose to opt out was the unnecessary tension created by coaches and other parents. There were unfair practices, unreasonable expectations, and an emphasis on competition rather than character. The multiple schedules and practices also seem to divide our family rather than bring us closer. And so the Mora family litmus test for all activities emerged-Will this activity bring our family closer together or farther apart? If the answer was farther apart, we didn’t do it. I also noticed that my kids played harder and longer when they were playing a game in our neighborhood compared to team practice. I frequently received a moan midway through the team practice. Is it time to go? The benefits just didn’t pan out for us.
Disclaimer: I am not anti-team sports. It just didn’t work for our family. I know there are many benefits to playing team sports.
Daily Park Visits: Homeschool PE Ideas
There were a few families in our area that homeschooled. Daily we would meet for lunch at our local skate park. The younger children played on playground equipment, and the older kids skated. It was an excellent form of non-pressured physical activity. The older children became pretty good skaters and were even featured in the local newspaper. Our kids always looked forward to going, so it also became a dangling carrot. I would casually remind them, “Get your morning academics done so we can go to the skate park.” I enjoyed the diligence that followed.
Presidential Fitness Award: Homeschool PE Ideas
The Presidential Fitness Award was a nice incentive for our children. They had personal goals to reach, and it encouraged them to stretch their physical abilities. National standards are set for each age group in the areas of running, curl-ups, trunk lifts, push-ups, and flexibility. We usually did this at the end of the year and set aside about eight weeks of training. I kept a bucket of testing supplies in our living room, and they gravitated towards testing themselves at various times of the day. What is nice about this activity is when they pass, they are awarded a Presidential Physical Fitness patch. Our eight-year-old was quite impressed that the President of the United States recognized his work in PE.
Learn Different Types of Games: Homeschool PE Ideas
I feel it is important to learn the rules of basketball, soccer, football, dodgeball, or any other sport. When you know the rules of popular games, it helps to make friends. Students learn to be a good sport, follow rules, and play fair. Occasionally, our kids took classes at a co-op or joined recreational sports camps. They loved when they had the opportunity to take rock climbing and ski lessons. The girls and I did Body and Soul exercises at our church. Learning how to play different games and participating in classes helped our children learn new skills and make social connections.
Outdoor/Farm Chores: Homeschool PE Ideas
We live on a farm. Physical chores are plentiful! Our children’s muscles were strengthened by stacking wood, weed whacking, tilling a field, planting, weeding, building fences, and handling livestock. Inside chores included window cleaning, scrubbing floors, and bathrooms. Physical tasks developed our children’s confidence and work-ethic. Each of our kids earned above minimum wage by providing yard work or cleaning houses for friends and neighbors. They all were able to save their money to buy their first car. I think a lot of times we sell our kids short by not giving them yard chores or robust cleaning assignments. Learning to work physically hard paid off financially in their teen years as well as built strong muscles. Tough jobs make for purposeful physical education.
Running/Biking/Swimming: Homeschool PE Ideas
Running, biking, swimming are relatively inexpensive and we could do it together as a family. These three dynamo aerobic activities created great family memories. Occasionally, we would participate in a planned event such as the Mud Factor Run or organized bike rides. Our most recent, Mother’s Day Triathlon is a memory my daughter and I will share forever. No, not a real triathlon, just a mini-triathlon. (Swim 1/4 mile, Bike 6.5 miles, Run 2 miles)
Historical Homeschool PE Ideas
What are the games and pastimes from long ago or around the world? Well, we would research, and then try our hand at some unusual sports. For example, when we studied the history of Greece, our kids designed their own Olympic Games. Yes, my boys tried to convince me to allow them to run naked like the early Grecian athletes. They argued streaking in the buff was more authentic. However, my answer was still no. We played colonial hoop and stick and other historical games. Why not include sports from around the world and learn about different cultures? Check out this complete list of sports from around the world. I’m pretty sure our children would have enjoyed the camel races.
A Simple Walk: Homeschool PE Ideas
My daughter reminded me to include this. Sometimes, when tensions mount in our day or the sun “made us an offer we couldn’t refuse”, a simple walk, breathing in and out fresh air calmed our nerves and restored our souls. As a result of pressing pause on our homeschool routine to enjoy the outdoors, I became a better home educator, and my children became better students.
Develop the Habit to Move: Homeschool PE Ideas
The goal of Homeschool P.E. is to develop a lifelong habit of being a “mover” and not a “sitter”. I am always amazed at how quickly my children and I can get out of the habit of exercising.
We are always the better for it when we get back on track. We try and do something physical every day. At present, my daughter and I either bike, run, or swim Monday-Friday. And if we reach our weekly goal, we reward ourselves with donuts or ice cream! Yes, I’m not ashamed. I’ll run for a glazed donut!
Homeschool PE ideas are as unique as each family. Thanks for letting me share ours!
From our Home to Yours,