Physical Education

Adding in P.E. (Again)

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When school starts in the late summer, everything is fresh and new, including ideas for incorporating physical activity into homeschool. In previous years, we would do a nature hike or P.E. class once a week with our homeschool group, and then try to do other physical activities together during the week, such as swimming or bike riding. By the time February rolls around…well, inspiration tends to run low. And, coming up on a year of COVID-19 precautions, we have not been as active with our regular outings with friends, homeschool group, and church. In fact, we just have not been as active. It is time to re-introduce P.E. into our homeschool.

Several years ago, I discovered this book, Homeschool Family Fitness by Bruce Whitney.

Within its pages, I found year-long inspiration for P.E. meetups with our homeschool group on Fridays. We practiced ball handling skills, played games, had field days, and held a bike rodeo.

Recently, I became aware of just how neglected our P.E. lessons had become this year. I have been alternating our Intro to Spanish lapbook lessons with health for our elective time on Fridays. I had pieced together a health curriculum from a variety of sources, including 4-H Healthy Living, a free downloadable curriculum. During the lesson on muscles and strength training, I noticed not only a lack of ability in the lesson’s activities, but a lack of flexibility with all three of my kids. Not good. This week, I scheduled a break between our history/science block and math to do exercises and stretches. I pulled out our Fit Deck Kids cards today.

These cards are great! There is a whole deck of different types of exercises that do not require special equipment. Cards can be randomly drawn, or chosen ahead of time. We just randomly selected cards today, but I may spend some time planning the cards for next week. We have used these with our homeschool group as well for P.E. class warm-ups.

For outdoor activities, especially with a group, it can be helpful to have some P.E. equipment on hand. Here are some of our favorites that I would recommend for getting started:

  • Balls, especially the basics of a basketball, volley ball, soccer ball, or playground ball
  • Colorful plastic cones, for marking starting and finish lines or boundaries for games
  • Jump ropes, either plastic beaded or rope. We have both, but the kids always grab the rope one because it can be used for games like tug-of-war

Incorporating P.E. can be easy if you can come up with a short list of ways to be active with the space and equipment available to you. Going on discovery hikes, doing strength exercise that do not require equipment (push-ups, wall sits, crunches, etc.), playing games that involve running or jumping, dancing, etc. will all get the kids moving and having fun at the same time. Some states have requirements for homeschoolers, however Texas does not. It does take some planning and motivation sometimes, especially on poor weather days.

For now, we are still doing a weekly nature walk, and most weekends since Christmas we have gone on a family outing to ride bikes, play basketball, or roller skate. I have decided to be more mindful about adding in one more cardio activity during the week, outdoor if possible, in addition to our daily strength and stretching time. When the pandemic numbers drop, hopefully soon, we will once again plan P.E. classes, field days, and bike rodeos with our homeschool group. Soon, hopefully soon.

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