Homeschool 101: Physical Education

Oddly enough, it seems homeschool physical education is one of the hardest subjects to teach for many parents. Yet, it can be the easiest — and most fun! However, there isn’t a lot of homeschool phys. ed. curriculum designed for the homeschooling family out there. So it can be hard for those of us who love to check off the boxes and plan out our daily activities to include phys. ed. in our homeschool. It often falls by the wayside, if we aren’t careful and deliberate about it.

First, lets define “physical education” as a homeschooling subject.

Physical education includes both learning about the body, including how it works and how to stay healthy — and learning how to effectively use your body. So it’s bit of science, life skills, and physical activity, all in one. Key topics of physical education might be hygiene and first aid, nutrition and rest, and the development of gross and fine motor skills.

So here are some easy and accessible ways to incorporate homeschool physical education:

Go outside daily.

This is probably the easiest way to include physical education, and requires the least amount of preparation. All you need to do is build in the time into your daily routines, and shoo the kids outside — especially if you have a yard or space to let them play, safely. Most kids are naturally active as soon as they get enough space to run around, so they’ll take care of their own developing motor skills.

With this option, you may want to add some directed play, and some health related lessons as part of your homeschool. There are plenty of options for no-equipment-needed games. Try the tried-and-true favorites like tag or hide & seek. Add a ball for some dodgeball. And if you don’t have space at home, consider a daily or every-other-day trip to a local park.

Use community resources.

Since homeschool physical education is more than just getting active, use community resources to help your kids connect with other phys. ed. topics.

For example, our local public health office has “health kits” we can borrow to teach about nutrition, first aid, hygiene and sleep. One of our favorite kits includes plush models of various human body organs. You would never think a liver could be cute, until someone made a plushie version!

Maybe ask your dentist for a lesson or two on how and why to brush your teeth. Or check for a free dietician or nutritionist consultation at your local grocery store. And don’t forget the library! Many libraries offer workshops on first aid, vitamin supplementation, affordable meal planning and nutrition, and more.

Use technology to help.

YouTube is a great place to find series of videos on a variety of different kinds of workouts for the whole family. Try a yoga routine, or a zumba, or any other popular workout routine that you can do with your kids. Clear an area, and raise your heart rate!

Or throw on a dance playlist, and encourage everyone to get up and move. Whether it’s your favorite mix list from when you were a teen or the latest Top-40 chart toppers, there’s always a fun bop to dance along with. You could even challenge your kids to master the latest TikTok dance.

If you have a video game system, there are several options for fitness and phys. ed. available there as well.

Workouts like this can be a great start to your homeschool day, or a fun way to finish it. And by joining in yourself, you get the added bonus of modeling healthy behaviour (always a plus in parenting!).

Sign up for family classes.

The Red Cross, ambulance services, and other organizations often offer first aid and emergency planning classes for a variety of ages. Whether it’s a “safe alone” class for your preteen, or a “babysitting course” for your teenager, or maybe a CPR course for yourself, you can check homeschool phys. ed. off in a week or weekend.

Often these courses are held over a single day, or as part of a PA day or school break class. Just because something doesn’t take 3 full months to learn doesn’t mean it doesn’t count as fully taught. You can use community classes like these to check those boxes, if box-checking is something important to you.

Explore your community.

We’re fortunate to live in a community that features a number of paved and maintained hiking trails. That means that, on nice days, I can take my kids out to walk, hike, rollerblade or bike one of the main scenic trails around the city. And if I plan it properly, it can become a full homeschool physical education lesson every time we do.

On our last phys. ed. trail-walk, we did a bike on a paved trail that followed a creek through residential neighbourhoods to our downtown core, and ended at a WW2 memorial. We talked bike and street safety, and then we were able to learn more about our community as well. We even got in a little bit of history.

Get into organized sports.

While public schools can offer lots of team and intramural sports opportunities, you might be surprised at what’s available outside the schools. Flag & tackle football, T-ball and Little League, soccer and softball teams can be found in many communities. If you have a YMCA locally, they might have drop-in and team basketball, volleyball or racket ball times. Arenas host minor hockey teams, lacrosse, or swimming teams.

Or go outside the typical team sports and sign your kids up for a kids’ bowling league. Or maybe a running club, kickboxing class or martial arts. If you have a gun range, maybe there’s a marksmanship team around? Or competitive rock climbing? And your local clubs might sponsor archery, curling, golf or tennis.

Many of these organized sports clubs will not only focus on physical activity, but often teach the skills surrounding general health as well. Homeschool physical education can be fun — and a break for the homeschooling parent, so that all you have to do is drive them there, and show up and cheer!

Use simple tools.

If you’re more rural or you’re in a community that doesn’t support a lot of extracurricular opportunities, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on homeschool phys. ed. All you need are some simple tools, that don’t have to be super expensive either.

Yard sales can be great places to find larger workout equipment. We’ve gotten both mini and big trampolines at yardsales, and I’ve regularly seen exercise bikes and treadmills too. You might also find bikes or scooters for the family, which can be fun ways to build physical skills.

Don’t forget about discount and dollar stores. We’ve picked up skipping ropes, yoga mats, and free weights at our local dollar store chain. And you can get sidewalk chalk or mini traffic cones to set up your own obstacle courses or tracks on the driveway.

Some of the easiest tools we ever found? A leftover beam of wood from a neighbour’s renovation project created a balance beam for my kids. Old bricks created some sturdy steps to climb and jump off. And an old set of tires made for climbing and crawling on, once I set them on their side and tied them together with rope and staked them to the ground.

A little bit goes a long way.

Homeschool phys. ed. doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be as simple as pulling one thing from each of the ideas above. Try scheduling a daily outside time for the kids, signing them up for swimming lessons or first aid, then doing a unit on nutrition at home. Or maybe you’ll do a weekly bike ride for the family, and the kids have gymnastics and karate as well.

Homeschool physical education can be good for the whole family.

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