By Ken Myers
Physical education has suffered drastically in the past few years, with schools cutting PE classes from their programs despite the growing childhood obesity epidemic. So it should come as no surprise that homeschooling faces the same problem as public schooling: how do we get our children motivated to move more during the day? Since most homeschool programs lack a solid physical education program, the responsibility lies with the parents or caregiver to motivate their children to pursue physical fitness, which can be done a variety of ways.
Sign Your Kids Up for a Club Sport
While your kids won’t be joining the local high school football team, that doesn’t mean that traditional school sports are out of the question. Club sports meet before or after regular school hours and offer kids and teenagers a chance to pursue athletics on a higher level. From football to swimming, cheerleading to soccer, there’s no shortage of club sport option available for your kids. Your kids will be exposed to the same team atmosphere that students attending public school are, and will reap the same benefits, such as socialization and learning the value of team work. They’ll also have coaches, regular practices and competitive games or meets to keep them motivated.
Pursue a Sport Together
Another way you can make physical fitness a regular part of your homeschool program and a fun event for your children is by pursuing a sport together, such as martial arts. By attending classes together and learning the same skill sets, you will create an irreplaceable bond with your children, all while showing them that staying physically active is something that can be both challenging and fun.
Make Daily Exercise a Family Event
Working physical activity into your program doesn’t have to mean joining a sports league or team, though; sometimes teaching your kids about physical fitness is as easy as making daily exercise a family event. Take a walk together every evening or ride bikes together throughout the day. Set a goal to do something active for at least an hour each day, even if the time is split up throughout the day. By making daily exercise something that you do together as a family, you are teaching your children healthy habits that will last them a lifetime. After a while, it will become second nature for your kids to bike ride around the neighborhood with you before dinner, and they’ll look forward to this time spent outside with you instead of thinking of it as something they’re being forced to do for a class.
Pick a Goal to Pursue
Ask your kids what kind of physical fitness goal they want to accomplish. Maybe they want to join the swim team and improve their freestyle swimming, maybe they want to run a local 5k race coming up or maybe they want to finally learn how to do the parallel bars in gymnastics. Letting your kids pick a goal will ensure that they’re motivated to reach it. From there, you can sign them up for classes in the sport they’re interested in or help them take the necessary steps towards achieving that goal. Reaching the end goal is like finishing a hard test, with all of the practices and days spent working up to it being similar to days spent in the classroom and nights spent doing homework.
Sign Up for a Co-op PE Class
Many homeschooling programs will have co-ops you can join so your kids are able to interact with other homeschooled children on a regular basis. PE co-ops are a great way to get your kids outside of the house and active with other kids their age. Having other children or teens to interact with can make all the difference, and can help them get excited about physical fitness.
Work Physical Fitness Into Your Studies
Find ways to incorporate physical fitness into your homeschool program. For instance, every hour on the hour have your kids do 25 jumping jacks. If they get a problem wrong, they have to do 10 push-ups. Find little ways to fit different bursts of activity into your regular lessons. Not only will this help stave off boredom, it will also get them moving regularly throughout the day.
Above all, as you pursue physical fitness through your homeschool program, keep it fun. By making physical fitness and education something enjoyable, your kids are much more likely to not just do it, but also to want to do it.
Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.