Lee Binz, The HomeScholar
Homeschool PE, when taught outside the box, is one of the greatest joys of homeschooling. Whether your child is a current couch potato or destined for professional sports, all children can benefit from homeschool PE. You can keep them always challenged, but never overwhelmed, by choosing the appropriate physical education experience for your child. Starting where they are, you can help them become more physically fit for the rest of their life, while also preparing them for college or career goals.
PE stands for "physical education,” not only “physical exercise.” You can create the perfect homeschool physical education class for your child because it can be a helpful combination of education and exercise. After all, some kids are very active in sports, and all you have to do is count the hours they spend breaking a sweat. For kids who are not so active, it helps to think outside the box. Your child could take CPR classes or study health instead. Some kids who hate PE love swing-dancing or computer games requiring movement. Any physical activity that breaks a sweat counts!
Colleges and careers may require 2 to 4 years of homeschool PE in high school. Although many colleges don’t require PE, others expect to see PE classes (seeing it as a “socialization” issue). Some military careers, as well as military and police academies, want to see proof of physical fitness. And if your child is into sports, the NCAA will expect to see PE classes on the transcript.
Homeschoolers can earn PE credits without a homeschool PE curriculum. Be specific with class titles. Instead of calling the class “PE” or “Physical Education,” create a second name for your class that gives more information. A homeschool physical education class might be called, “PE: Personal Fitness with Health,” or “PE: Basketball and Soccer.” Consider the wide variety of physical education for homeschool options available, and then think outside the box!
You could focus on health in your PE class. Check your state homeschool law, because sometimes health is a requirement for graduation, but it’s unlikely your child needs a health credit every year of high school. We liked the health books by Susan Boe. Written for Christian schools, these books assume the student lives in a reasonably healthy environment, without sex or drugs. They cover physical, spiritual, and social health.
Exploring Creation with Health and Nutrition by Laura Chase
For Junior High or Middle School - Total Health: Talking About Life’s Changes by Susan Boe
For High School - Total Health: Choices for a Winning Lifestyle by Susan Boe
https://www.amazon.com/Passport2Purity-4th-Dennis-Rainey/dp/1602009082Relationship and purity studies can be a health related topic as well. You can read and discuss issues about dating. Consider these popular books:
For younger teens, Passport2Purity by Dennis and Barbara Rainey
For older teens, age 14-19, When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy
For young adults, Boundaries in Dating by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
You can focus on healthy eating with a nutrition course, or a unit on nutrition. Some families will branch out to research essential oils, healing herbs, or other natural remedies. This study time could make up a nutrition course. Popular resources for homeschoolers include:
Nutrition 101: Choose Life! (Third Edition) Paperback
There are excellent classes available from The Great Courses that you can find in your public library as well. Try this one:
Nutrition Made Clear by Roberta H. Anding. Video, Audio, or Paperback
First aid, lifeguard, and CPR classes from the American Red Cross or your local fire station would be a great addition to any PE class. As a registered nurse, I encourage all families to certify in CPR and maintain certification (yearly or so depending on your state). Your child’s CPR certification becomes a way you can evaluate PE class.
There are many ways to include fitness in everyday life. Look for opportunities to cover homeschool physical education outside the box.
A personal fitness class can be as simple as counting everything that breaks a sweat. Yard work, manual labor, and playing basketball in the backyard all count as personal fitness. If you take fitness seriously in your family, you may want to include weight training, strength training, and cardio into your daily routine. Indoor and outdoor exercise counts, and no gym membership or sports teams are necessary.
Sports Teams and Socialization
Sports teams are a great way to collect PE hours. It doesn’t matter what kind of sports team your child is on. Sometimes teams will come with a rough social environment, of course. My children were involved in organized sports, making summer an interesting time. In a secular sports league, they were exposed to some unsavory behavior and vocabulary. Because the exposure was limited, these issues didn’t become part of my children’s psyches. Instead, they could observe this behavior as if from a distance. We could discuss the negative socialization without them taking it on as a personality trait.
If your child is participating in team sports or sport camps, it can be an eye-opener for them. They can learn what socialization is like in school, but because it’s not an all-day and all-year experience, and with appropriate "de-briefing" they are unlikely to face any negative consequences.
From golf to running, there are many individual sports to choose from, some with a socialization component. Golf, for example, is a great opportunity for walking and talking together. Look into the First Tee program. First Tee provides young people of all backgrounds an opportunity to develop life-enhancing values such as confidence, perseverance, and judgment through golf and character education. First Tee offers wonderful college scholarships for participation, with a mission to promote healthy choices in teens. Read more about First Tee.
Summer is a great time for learning new skills – especially skills that count as PE. Kids can learn skills such as bowling, swimming, ice skating, or inline skating. They might participate in a fun run, marathon, or walk-a-thon for charity to learn how to give. Gather a group of friends and enjoy hikes, mid-day picnicking, or active outdoor games. Camping with family or friends can encourage great outdoor skills that count for PE.
Kids who love to play more than anything are perfect candidates for learning real skills. On their own, they may learn new games, new sports, and try new skills with their friends. If you meet with other homeschoolers at a park, encourage everyone to bring outdoor games. Search your closets for badminton, croquet, bocce, or volleyball gear.
If your child loves books, you can pursue physical education by buying books to encourage physical fitness. Many books have detailed photos or drawings of exercises. For a child who hates exercise, you may want to try 8 Minutes in the Morning by Jorge Cruise. It’s a quick read, with some chapters on healthy living – diet, exercise, sleep, etc. There is a section describing exercises that can be completed in 8 minutes a day
Science minded children may enjoy the Charlotte Mason style of learning. A nature handbook or field guide may send them off to the wilderness, contentedly learning as they enjoy nature.
Artists may not gravitate toward soccer, but they may be involved in dance. Whether they love swing, ballroom, or ballet, anything that breaks a sweat can count as PE, so dance certainly fits the bill. Young artists often have more than enough credits for fine arts, so it’s easy to put their dance hours in the PE category.
If your artistic child is not a dancer, focus on the art they love. A bike, a backpack, and some art supplies may be all they need for a summer PE credit. They can hike or bike to a scenic vista to sketch, paint, or draw. New drawing supplies may be the only motivation needed!
An artist may also be drawn to musical concerts in the park. Find your park department schedule, and see if they hold music or theater performances. An artist might be convinced to spend time in the park playing Frisbee or soccer before performances, or enjoy the music while playing active games. Exercising with their favorite music might be just the ticket. For some, this means a stationary bicycle or jogging with classical music accompaniment.
Take advantage of the auditory learning style. Auditory learners may be motivated to do aerobics by downloading fast-paced music on their MP3 player or smartphone that they can enjoy while taking a walk. An auditory learner may find audio books so enjoyable that they will even go for long walks, hikes, or bike rides while listening to great literature. Be sure to include these books on their reading list, carefully labeled as audio books.
Shooting, hunting, and archery are some of the many ways to include outdoor education in a PE class. Olympic sports can also be considered part of PE Camping, hiking, snowshoeing and other outdoor recreation would be awesome additions. My Gold Care Club members are often involved in Boy Scouts, and they spend hundreds of hours doing outdoor activities each year. I suggest only creating one PE credit per year, and “Outdoor Education” might be a good title.
Some teens are all about the computer. A computer-based option might be a good fit, as long as you make sure your sweet child is moving while they play. Some of the gaming systems involving movement are Xbox One with Kinect, PlayStation 4 with Move controllers, and the Nintendo Switch.
Search for movement-based games if you already have a gaming console. Wii Fit U and Wii Sports Club are games for the older Wii U game console, which offers fitness games including yoga, strength, and stamina. On the PlayStation 4 (and previous consoles), you can play Just Dance. Dance Dance Revolution is available for the computer using a USB-attachable soft dance pad. Xbox One (and previous consoles) has Nike+ Kinect Training and other fitness games. There are too many movement-based options to list. When choosing a computer-based interactive fitness game, look for one that helps the child elevate their heart rate. If they are only moving their arms, then it’s not exercise or education … it’s merely a computer game. And be extremely careful to read ratings on any game before you purchase.
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Homeschoolers understand that a solid high school education involves more than just the standard high school courses. It is true that mastering science, math, and literature is important for homeschoolers (vitally important if college lies ahead), but equally important are subjects the student is passionate about, subjects they will study for hours on end, “just for the fun of it.” Delight directed learning is the true “secret sauce” of a great homeschool education.
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