Homeschool P.E.: Why You Need It and How to Get Started

I don’t know about you, but I really didn’t get much out of P.E. when I was in school.

I am sure that my P.E. teachers did their best, but only so much can be accomplished when you’re dealing with thirty kids 1 or 2 times a week for 50 minutes at a time.

My most vivid memory has to be running the dreaded mile every year. We never trained for it and never tried to improve our times after it was over.

It was just something we had to do every year to meet some standard.

For these reasons (and maybe many more), parents may be quick to dismiss homeschool P.E. as unimportant or unnecessary.

They may say that their kids play outside a lot or that they play sports – so they’re covered.

But Homeschool P.E. is about so much more than just how physically active your child is.

What Exactly is the Purpose of P.E.?

Homeschool P.E. Kids

Well the purpose would be the same whether you are talking about homeschool P.E. or traditional school P.E.

The Society of Health and Physical Educators says that the:

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“… goal of physical education is to develop physically literate individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity.

So in other words, the goal of P.E. is to help kids learn how to be active and stay active for a lifetime.

Are P.E. Classes Meeting this Goal?

I don’t mean to come across as snarky, but do you think that traditional P.E. has achieved the goal of a lifetime of fitness when you look at America today?

Adult and childhood obesity seems to be skyrocketing with no end in sight and people are more sedentary than ever.

Well, I looked up some stats and I was shocked to find that despite the understaffing, under budgeting, and under scheduling of P.E. – it DOES have a direct correlation with producing more active adults.

A 2012 Physical Activity Council Report provided some pretty impressive stats about P.E. participation:

“An adult who participated in PE at school is four times more likely to participate in a racquet sport and about three times more likely to participate in team, outdoor, winter and golf.”

And the more often a child had P.E. during the week, the more these stats increased.

This should tell us that intentional P.E. does have value and we should not dismiss it in the homeschool setting.

What About Group Sports and Outside Play?

Homeschool kids playing soccer for P.E.

I used to be in the crowd of thinking that signing my kids up for sports and taking them to the park regularly was just fine and should count for “homeschool P.E.”

The more research and thinking I’ve done has forced me to realize that I’m missing the mark.

Signing my kids up for sports and playing outside will not set my kids up for a lifetime of fitness.

Those things will provide my kids physical activity, but not a physical education. There is a difference. 

The problem is that eventually kids stop playing tag and running around the playground. When I walk around our co op at lunch time, this is a very obvious truth.

The younger kids are running and playing games, and the older kids are sitting around in a classroom talking.

At some point, it’s not cool anymore to run and play games.

As for team sports, your kid may lose interest in sports, get cut from a team, or grow out of the age that group sports are offered for homeschoolers in your area.

What will you do then?

If exercise was always associated with team sports – will your child internalize the importance of exercise and continue with it when there isn’t a team beside them?

The Huge Reason For Homeschool P.E.

Homeschool Kids waiting for P.E. to start

Despite the above stats, I don’t believe I am an active adult today because of P.E. classes I took in school.

To be truthful, those classes could have deterred me from being active (see above story about miserable 1 mile run every year).

Why am I active today?

Because I grew up watching my parents value exercise and that was instilled in me as a high value.

As I grew up and stopped playing tag, stopped running around on a playground, and stopped playing group sports, I still continued with exercising.

It was so natural and normal, that I never thought about it. Didn’t everybody do that?

I remember my dad and I would even compete over who had the lowest resting heart rate when one of us went for a doctor check up.

****You truly have no idea how strange your family is till you get out into the world – ha!

Anyhow, I have realized as a parent myself, that I need to continue a lifestyle of fitness and healthy physical activity if I want my kids to grow up and continue exercising too.

And Guess what????

As a homeschooling parent, you have a completely unique opportunity to model an active lifestyle to your kids AND teach P.E.!

We are with our kids daily and have a chance to teach them the importance of exercise, making time for it in a daily routine, and keeping up with it!

These are the things that will help greatly increase your child’s chances of leading an active and healthy lifestyle – AND they are things that just can’t be taught in a traditional classroom.

I believe that homeschool P.E. classes have an infinitely better chance of actually meeting the goal of a lifetime of healthy activity than any traditional school P.E. classes.

Why Homeschool P.E. Classes Have A Huge Upper Hand

boy on balance ball

P.E. is yet another area where we can strive for excellence in our homeschools!

You may not be a fitness coach or have a degree in physical education, but you can help your kids learn to be active and STAY active.

Still not so sure?

Think about this:

  1. You can tailor your P.E. classes to things your kids are really interested in and want to learn more about.

  2. You (not the local board of education) can decide how many days a week and how long you spend on it.

  3. You have an awesome chance to show your kids how to fit P.E. (daily exercise) into their daily lives and normal routine at home – something that no traditional P.E. class would even attempt to do. This is so practical for actually continuing with physical activity into adulthood!

  4. Because you are with your children all day, you have a chance to model your own physical activity to them – showing them this is a normal and expected part of adulthood. Same as cleaning your room, reading your Bible, making meals, or whatever you are training your kids to do.

Do you see??

You have a huge chance with homeschooling to really set your kid on a positive trajectory towards a lifetime of physical activity and fitness – potentially extending the years of their life!

Um, I’m not physically active…like at all

I hear you.

And that’s exactly why you need to start doing legit homeschool P.E. now.

Your children are watching you.

Everything you do is what they will grow up thinking “normal” is.

You are constantly modeling to them what adulthood looks like.

If you want them to grow up to be fit and active adults (like all parents want their kids to be), you can’t wish it from the couch.

How to Get Started with Homeschool P.E.

Homeschool kids doing P.E. class

It is so, so simple to get started with homeschool P.E. and the younger your kids, the easier it is to get started!

1. Figure out where P.E. can reasonably fit into your homeschool routine

Where would homeschool P.E. fit into your normal day?

How many days a week do you want to start with?

How much time can you put towards P.E.? (some is better than none!)

I have an 8, 6, and 4 year old and the best time for us is right after “morning time.” We read a lot in the morning, so it feels good to get off the couch and start moving.

I usually shoot for a frequency of 2-3 days a week.

2. Tell your kids why you’re adding P.E. to the routine

Once you’ve decided how to fit P.E. into your homeschool routine, sit your kids down and tell them what you are adding to their day and why.

Of course, make your explanation age appropriate. As a general guideline, just explain that you want to start adding in a physical element into your homeschool.

You want them to learn how to keep their muscles healthy and strong – which includes stretching, muscle strengthening exercises, and elevating their heart rate.

Explain that sitting all day can make them sick when they got older, and we’re going to start exercising now so they can be healthy for a long time.

Kids love to move, so this will not be a hard sell.

They will likely be very excited!

3. Ask for their input

Don’t be afraid to get their opinions on what they want to include!

You are much more likely to get  their compliance if they feel like they are a part of the process.

Once our homeschool P.E. classes got rolling and my kids had learned some basic stretches and exercises – I asked them to take turns leading and picking exercises that we would all do together as a group.

They love being able to pick and lead – as opposed to just being told what to do.

4. Decide your homeschool P.E. format/routine

There are MANY options available to you. It will probably not look like the P.E. classes you went to, but that’s okay!

Homeschool is not supposed to look like traditional school!

Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Teach your children basic stretches and then do simple exercises like jumping jacks, walking lunges, crab walks, bear crawls, etc. Once they have learned a good number of exercises, let them pick and run the “P.E. class” with you!

  • Get little cones like these and set up an obstacle course with your kids

  • Try out Youtube videos that are geared towards kids fitness such as Cosmic Kids Yoga, PE with Joe, and Kids Workout Video

  • Pick up some cool exercise games for kids like – Thinkfun Yoga Spinner, 10 sided fitness dice, or Superhero exercise cards

  • Consider getting an indoor trampoline. (We got this one and love the bar for strength building and that two kids can use it at the same time!)

  • If you have time, take your kids on a morning walk, hike, or bike ride

  • Check out homeschool co-ops in your area for P.E. programs or get a group of homeschool moms together to do P.E. activities that require more people.

  • Want something ever more structured? Check out this free online P.E. Curriculum!

I would highly recommend trying all of these options – and coming up with some of your own!

Variety will be so helpful in getting your kids moving – and keeping them moving.

5. Remember to start slowly and work towards age appropriate goals

We are still in our first year of homeschool P.E. and my kids are on the young side.

For the elementary age, I am just focused on:

  • understanding that their heart rate needs to be raised to keep the heart healthy and strong
  • stretching and flexibility are important to healthy muscles
  • exercise is fun and keeps us healthy
  • we need to make time for regular exercise – even when we’re busy or don’t always feel like it – so our bodies stay healthy and don’t get sick

As children move into the middle school/high school years I believe the focus should be placed more and more on independent exercise.

Their homeschool studies are likely becoming more independent – which is great prep for college.

Encouraging independent exercise as part of their homeschool P.E. course load is also great preparation for life!

Consider taking your older kids to a gym and having a trainer teach them how to use weights and machines.

Also talk about injury prevention points – noticing pain and listening to it, working different muscle groups, rest days, and the need for variety.

Encourage life long activities such as walking, hiking, biking, and swimming.

Take time to explain and encourage your student to notice how exercise benefits their body in multiple ways – increased focus, happier mindset (yay endorphins!), and better sleep.

It is so important that this knowledge comes from you and your children see that you value it!

6. Don’t Give Up!

It may be tempting to cut P.E. out on days that are super chaotic 0r lazy.

That’s just part of life and very understandable.

But it should be the exception and not the norm.

Just like sometimes you may do a “light” day of school or skip school altogether for any number of reasons – it happens, but its not the norm.

The good news is the your kids will love moving and will likely ask for P.E. and therefore keep you accountable with it.

My Own Homeschool P.E. Results

As I said, I only added P.E. in to our homeschool this year, but I am already so happy with the results.

My kids were very active before, but we are now intentionally active.

My 6 year old came up to me the other day and said, “Mom, I need to move my body!” She had been playing on the floor awhile and recognized that she needed to get up and move!

All of the kids love to play on our indoor trampoline bar and  say, “Mom, look at me! My muscles are getting strong!”

I love seeing my 4 year old learn stretches and my 8 year old get excited to pick an exercise!

There is frustration at times when they don’t quite have the endurance or muscle strength to do some thing they want to – such as a decent push up. But I think it will be so neat to keep working at it and see them slowly improve and meet fitness goals.

Either way, I feel so good about shaping this side of their life and being more intentional about it.

Recap + Free Printable!

Is homeschool P.E. that big of a deal? Can't you just sign them up for a sport and call it a day? Check out why intentional homeschool P.E. is a huge deal for your kid and how to get started - the quick and easy way -with your own homeschool P.E. today!

Parents – homeschool or traditional school – are in an uphill battle against raising sedentary kids that will become sedentary adults who despise the gym membership they never use.

As homeschool parents though, we have a unique opportunity to really set our kids up for success!

Are you pretty nervous about being consistent with a homeschool P.E. schedule?

I thought you would.

And I have something that can help keep you consistent!

My routine card printable actually includes P.E.! When you add these cards to your homeschool, you show your kid that P.E. is just as important as math, reading, and science.

It’s not something that you just do every now and then when you have time or mom’s not too busy.

It’s on the schedule and we get it done.

I display these cards every day in my homeschool. As my kids complete them, we turn them over to show they are finished.

Homeschool routine printable

Download these routine cards today and show your kids that you’re serious about P.E. (and keep yourself accountable!)

You can get it for FREE today when you subscribe (unsubscribe anytime, no SPAM ever!) to The Simple Homeschooler!

You will receive Monday morning emails full of homeschool support, encouragement, tips, and laughs!

Click HERE to subscribe and get your free routine card printable today!

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