I would get this question sometimes from other people, generally those who have athletic children, “So how do you do P.E.?” And then I started to worry about that. Yeah, how do I do P.E.? The kids need physical exercise, right? I don’t want them to be lazy coach potatoes! Great! Now I’m doing this whole homeschool thing wrong! We’re never going to make it!
And then I asked myself this question, “what is the purpose of P.E. anyway?”
I’ve determined that the purpose of P.E. is to expose children to different sports and games.
Because if the purpose were to get kids to be physically fit, then at least by my experience, the public schools I went too weren’t doing a very good job. Back in my elementary days, and even middle school really, we spent 5 minutes getting settled into our spots on the gym floor, 10 or so minutes for instruction, 5 minutes for getting the equipment out, and then the rest of the hour was waiting our turn for whatever sport or game we were learning. We maybe had 10 or 15 minutes of real physical activity… if it even was P.E. day which I remember being only once a week. I probably broke a sweat only a couple dozen times… in what, 8 years? And I liked physical activity! I was pretty sporty back in the day. What about the 3rd of the class who were just sitting on the sidelines or didn’t really care to try? I’m pretty sure they still got a passing grade. Maybe even a B. They were present and therefore exposed to the activities the rest of us got to quickly try out.
So if I were trying to recreate but improve upon the public school experience in my homeschool, using only my background as a gauge (because maybe the schools are WAY better nowadays?), I would expose my kids to different sports and games and give them lots of time to try them out and play them. Which would be hard at home, even though we technically have enough people for a basketball team. Football would never work. (But the boys are kind of good at informal wrestling!)
But I am not trying to recreate or just improve upon my past experiences. I am more interested in P.A., which is Physical Activity. For P.A. my kids play outside… a lot! They play on the city soccer league both spring and fall seasons. We go hiking at least once a week in the summer. We (read I) like to go on long walks with each other. We garden – hey! People say gardening burns a lot of calories so I can count that, right? We take swim lessons in the summer. And my oldest often goes biking with my husband while my husband jogs. They are up to 4 miles at a time. Plus, the kids like to ride their bikes around anyway. With the exception of winter, in which I count sledding as P.A. (all that tromping back up the hill!), we are a pretty active bunch.
Something deep inside of me still feels like it is beneficial to at least not be completely sport illiterate. We do live in a pretty sports/entertainment driven society and knowing the difference between a touchdown and a home run seems like kind of an obvious thing people should just know. So I also sign my kids up for a sports camp in the summer. It is basically P.E. for 2 hours every day for 2 weeks. They also play stuff like sharks and minnows, capture the flag, and other P.E. games like that.
So really, in our family we do P.E.A.
But with an A. emphasis.
Or we just have a lot of fun and play outside a lot.
And I don’t worry about whether we are recreating a public school experience or not (because isn’t that the point of homeschool – to NOT create a public school experience?), and I’m not too worried about my kids becoming couch potatoes. Here is what some of our P.A.e. looks like!
And of course a sideways video… because generally those just don’t make it onto the internet but I’m going to do it anyway.