Homeschooled children aren’t getting as much physical exercise as their peers. A new study from Rice University gathered data from 100 homeschooled children from the ages of 10 to 17 and highlighted the problem of inactivity. Conventionally-schooled children typically walk between classes, get twenty minutes of recess, and participate in extended day activities. Conversely, many homeschoolers don’t even have physical education in their curriculum. The World Health Organization recommends children get at least one hour of aerobic activity daily to stay fit, ensure muscular development, and maintain a healthy weight.
Planning your lessons
Check the requirements your state may have for homeschool physical education. However, it’s important to focus on teaching your children to adopt an active lifestyle to ensure they stay in optimal health and keep obesity at bay for life. One study shows physically fit children have increased grey matter in the brain, which boosts executive function, learning, motor skills, and visual processing.
The great thing about homeschool PE is that it can be as structured or spontaneous as your children want. Feel free to try out “unconventional” activities like home workout videos, Wii games, kayaking, or curling. If you live near a beach, taking a trip for an hour or two is a super fun way to get that P.E. in. You can even add in required reading and written tests, but exercise is really all that’s really needed. Variety is key to keeping your kids looking forward to PE and preventing boredom.
Many kids will be happy to run around the backyard to get in their hour of exercise a day. You may want to invest in equipment to make playtime more enticing and exciting. For example, children are happy to play on slides, trampolines, and swings for hours on end. However, you don’t necessarily need to have a lot of room or to spend a lot of money. For example, make a DIY tree swing with some strong rope and a suitable old tire.
Having a swimming pool or water slide in your backyard during those hot months is a great way to get kids outside. Our kids would spend hours in the pool. Alternatively, you can play games together like tag, jump rope, and frisbee. This is also a great opportunity to teach your children traditional high school sports like tennis, badminton, and handball. Or you can devise your own fun and unique activities. For example, water relay games involve participants completing an obstacle course while carrying buckets of water. The team with the most water in their bucket left wins.
Regardless of which activity you decide to do, you’ll notice that once you get back into your home classroom your kids’ cognitive function will be improved. Research shows that physical activity boosts memory, attention,
and planning abilities of youngsters.
Research various recreation facilities in your area, including nonprofit organizations and private facilities. Some facilities even provide classes specifically designed for homeschoolers. For example, the YMCA provides strength training and cardio fitness programs for children and the Red Cross offers swimming classes. But the options are endless: yoga, gymnastics, martial arts, ice skating, horseback riding, golf, archery, skiing and snowboarding, ballet, contemporary dance, trampoline parks, and bowling are just some of the activities available. Although an expensive option, it’s a valuable investment since you’ll be gaining access to fitness equipment and formal classes with trained instructors.
Your children may also want to participate in either team or individual competitive sports — which develops skills like cooperation, determination, and discipline. Most sports have their own competitive organizations, but you can also check if your child can join local school clubs or teams. Incorporating these ideas into your homeschool curriculum will get your child hooked on exercise for life.