Monday, November 16, 2009

Are Homeschoolers Less Physically Fit than Public Schooled Students?

My children are involved in a terrific sports program. The kids meet once a week to play whatever sport is in season. There are no assigned teams, no between-game practices, no traveling, and no expensive uniforms. Since you never know who or how many will show up to play, teams are different each week. The program reminds me a lot of vacant-lot baseball, but it's overseen by a dedicated coach.

I had the opportuntity to chat with the director of the program recently. He mentioned that he believed homeschooled children, as a group, were less physically fit than public school students. When I asked why he thought this might be, he cited lack of physical education classes, no need to walk to school, and no dashing through the halls between classes while carrying heavy books!

When our family made the decision to homeschool, P.E. wasn't even considered. My kids have always been involved in soccer and Little League. As far as I was concerned, that covered "Physical Education" . . . until I noticed my middle son's adolescent growth spurt had caused him to grow "out" as much as he'd grown "up".

That's when I began looking into opportunties for regular physical education classes. In Oregon, public schools are required to allow homeschooling students to participate in their sports programs and even to enroll in single classes, such as P.E. Our family has chosen to keep our names completely off the public school roles, so we had to explore additional options.

For the past several years, I have led our homeschool co-op in the President's Fitness Challenge. While you probably took part in this program in public school, you may not know that it's open to homeschoolers. If you don't belong to a co-op, you can still participate as an individual. The clothing emblems the kids can earn are fun to wear, and the certificates look great in their portfolios.

Of course, homeschool co-ops are wonderful places for any kind of group activity. The parents in our co-op take turns leading a weekly P.E. class for younger children. This takes place in a local park during good weather, and in a church gym when it rains. During P.E., the students get a chance to play duck-duck-goose, drop the handkerchief, Red Rover, tag, and other group games.

A private Christian school in our area issued an invitation for homeschooling families to participate in their P.E. classes. I have been taking two of my children to this school for several months now, and it's one of the highlights of their week. I realize not every family is fortunate enough to have this option but, if there's a private school in your area, it wouldn't hurt to ask if you can participate in P.E. "a la carte".

I can't say my own observations confirm the coach's opinion about unfit homeschoolers, but I do admit that it would be easy to allow fitness to take a backseat to academics.

What does your family do for P.E.?

1 comment:

  1. Well, PE is one of my concerns since I started homeschooling my 8th grade daughter this year. I think I'll check a few of the local church schools if they have any programs like the one you mentioned.


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