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Home School Physical Education

Few home educators include physical education in their curriculum. Most home educators do not have a lot of free time and only include the subjects they view as essential. A parent may value physical education but has not been able to find a tool or curriculum guide to tell them how to do it. To put energy into physical education, you must be convinced it is as important as math or any other basic subject.

Why have physical education for my children?

Required By Law

Physical education instruction is required by laws in 45 states. Recess or competitive leagues are not considered instruction. Laws vary between states but typically they require 20 minutes of instruction two or three times per week.

Do you believe children do better in academics
if they are physically fit?

Most states have laws requiring public schools and colleges to have physical education classes. Research indicates that physical education classes will help increase the general health level of the students and the healthier students tend to do better academically. Research also indicates aerobic fitness of the body and academic performance often go hand in hand. The theory is that we are whole beings. The intellectual, social, physical, and spiritual are all interrelated. Any lack of development of one component will hamper the development of the other three. Developing all four at the same time will give the best results in developing the person.

What are your goals for physical education?

Each family may have slightly different goals depending upon their needs and situation.

Physical Education Goals

I have written goals for my children and put them in rank order. I want my children to:

  1. Develop a life long habit of exercise. I want them to learn and enjoy activities that will help them get the exercise they need now and when they are middle aged.
  2. Be physically fit in the areas of cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength. I want my children to do a progressive exercise program five days a week at home.
  3. Learn basic body coordination and locomotor skills.
  4. Learn the skills and rules of common games or sports they can do with other children. In our culture, sports is a common form of socializing. I want my children to know the rules of the games other children play and be able to teach new wholesome games to other children. I want my children to have confidence when they play kickball, baseball, and basketball with other children and not be embarrassed by their lack of skill.
  5. Learn games that can be done at home with a variety of ages and a small number of children. If a child says "I am bored", it may because you have not taught them a game that takes only one or two people.
  6. Burn off energy so they can focus on the academic work better.
  7. Have fun together as a family.

How do I get started?

First you need a conviction that physical education is just as important as the three R's and it will help enhance the three R's. Next you need to set goals for your family. Now you are ready to consider the various activities and tools that you have available to get the job done. Books with a curriculum outline, ideas of games/drills, and lesson plans are very helpful. Time, location, and equipment need to be allocated. Evaluation of the student's progress should be included just like any other subject. Regular "tests" will help the student see a measurable improvement. Measurable success will motivate any student. Local recreation departments and schools often have instruction in specific sports available for a minimal fee. These should be considered supplemental and not a substitute for a daily fitness program at home.

Dr. Whitney has eight children. He and his wife have home educated their children since 1987. Dr. Whitney received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota School of Kinesiology. Dr. Whitney is the author of Home School Family Fitness: A Complete Curriculum Guide and Physical Education For Homeschool Co-ops and Private Schools.

This article was adapted from the the Spring 1996 Paper MACHE, the Minnesota state homeschool association journal. Letters to the editor indicated the article touched felt needs of many parents. Please contact us for permission, if you would like to reprint this in your news letters or journals. Dr. Whitney is a founding board member of their local homeschool co-op. He has been a workshop leader at numerous state conventions and local meetings.
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