Are you a P.E.-challenged Mom? I am! I grew up in a traditional school setting, and I just despised physical education class, or “phys ed” as my teachers called it. I didn’t enjoy running around in the heat, making a fool of myself as I tried to catch balls, or changing in the locker room. Yuck!
So as a homeschooling mom, I was in a predicament. I understood the good sense in teaching physical fitness to my children. I realized the need for getting them off the couch and moving. But it was hard for me to set a good example when my memories of exercising and sports were less than fond.
In addition, as the mother of six young children, I lacked the time to make lesson plans for yet another subject. Our day was already full with math, grammar, reading, writing, history, science, chores, music, service for others, housecleaning….
So I needed a plan. I talked to my husband, who had been involved with athletics on a high school level for many years. I read books on physical education, written by and for homeschoolers. I searched the Internet.
The result was a set of simple lesson plans that would take me through several years of physical education. These plans are intended for elementary-age children, since these were the ages of my own children. I planned for ways to get us all up and exercising together, since this was a need in our home. Finally, I tried to make it fun, since I knew that I wouldn’t want to continue if it wasn’t – and if Mom doesn’t want to exercise, why would the kids want to?
Ready to join us? Let’s go!
Note: Use caution and discernment when visiting any of the websites referenced. We cannot be responsible for the content of any of the suggested sites.
Before Your Family Begins
- Set reasonable goals for each person. Does Johnny need to strengthen his upper arms? Is Suzie a slow runner? Does Philip need to get outside and get more fresh air? Does Melissa want to learn how to play softball? Download a Challenge Goals sheet and stick it on your refrigerator.
- Do an equipment check. We tried to choose activities that will use things that your family very likely already owns. Of course, you can always feel free to substitute items that might work just as well. Don’t have a baseball bat? A long cardboard tube that used to hold wrapping paper can make a fun bat. Don’t have bean bags? Fill old socks with beans, then quickly sew the ends up tight. We’re assuming if your family members are already huge fans of baseball or bean-bag games, you won’t even have this problem. The rest of us can pinch pennies. We’ve made a list of equipment you’ll probably need, and you can see it below.
- Choose a place for everything, and put everything in its place. We use large plastic storage containers, purchased inexpensively at our local supercenter. You’ll also need to think about where you’ll do P.E. each day, in good weather as well as in bad. Do you have a paved driveway? Do you have a big backyard? Is there a place for balls to be played with without the fear of their rolling into a road? Is there a room in your house where pillow fights and relay races can be enjoyed? Finally, begin thinking about when you’ll exercise each day. Our family enjoys some variety, but we’ve found that mid-morning and mid-afternoon are two of our favorite times – you know, when everyone is sleepy!
- Assign helpers. Mom, you can’t do everything, and if you try to add P.E. to an already packed schedule, you’ll probably “drop out” after a week or two. Allow your children to do your preparation work for you. You’ll be teaching them valuable life skills, you’ll increase their anticipation for exercising, and you’ll relieve yourself of some extra burden. We’ve chosen the following helpers in our home:
- An Equipment Checker – This helper will look at the week’s lesson plans and make sure all the equipment is ready to use. Each day, he or she will bring the equipment to your P.E. area.
- A “Water Boy” (or Girl) – This helper will prepare water bottles (or some substitute) each morning. He or she will make sure the water is cold and ready to drink both before and after P.E. time. (Please, Mom, no sugary drinks. Read all labels! Sugar and popular sports drinks will only sabotage your bodies!)
- A Goal Checker – Homeschooling moms are notorious about good intentions and poor follow-through. Do you want your children to set goals? Allow one of your little helpers to hang a goal chart on the refrigerator each week and to hold his or her siblings accountable. This helper can also make “announcements” at dinner when a family member has done exceptionally well!
- Be ready with alternate ideas for busy times. You probably realize that just because these lesson plans contain 36 weeks does not mean you’ll get them all done. However, if you’re like me, a few weeks of chicken pox will get you so out of the habit of exercising that you’re likely to quit P.E. altogether (until next year). A back-up plan is needed so your children will know that P.E. is a mandatory subject. When your life is crazy, be prepared with a children’s exercise video or DVD, a friend you can call on to take your children sledding or bicycling, or a father who might take on the challenge for a week or two. Note: Love to Learn is a company that has several excellent exercise and dance videos, plus fun equipment that would work in a pinch.
- Print out any needed plans, charts, and Movement Games before you begin. Laminate things if it would help. Put the charts on a clipboard. Don’t start now and organize later. You’ll only be setting yourselves up for failure.
- Cones – at least 4
- Jump Ropes – one per child, plus a longer one for group games
- Hula Hoops – minimum 4
- Balls – many sizes and textures
- Bicycles (optional)
- Timer or stopwatch
- Peppy, fun music – to be used on days when enthusiasm lags
- Beanbags or socks filled with rice
- Balance Beam – 2” x 4” x 8’ (or masking tape to mark an area this size)
- Ball attached to a paddle
- Tape Measure – nice & long
- Dice for choosing Movement Games
- Most Important – a smile!
Some Things to Consider:
- Scripture says to “train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8, NIV). Be sure to begin your homeschooling day with Scripture study so that no matter what other interruptions come, your priorities will be straight. You’ll have taken time to train your children in godliness. On the other hand, you may want to schedule physical education for later in the day, aware of the fact that outside circumstances might cause you to skip this subject sometimes. That’s okay! Keep your priorities straight.
- Include some work and service in your children’s day. Hard, physical work is the best form of exercise, and it’s a gift that few children receive. In addition, learning to serve others daily is a life skill that takes plenty of energy and endurance, yet it will further your goal of training your children in godliness.
- Injuries are a concern to all homeschooling moms, aren’t they? Most athletic injuries are minor, such as sprains and bruises. However, no mother wants a trip to the emergency room or the family doctor. Many injuries can be prevented! In order to prevent them, however, you must understand what causes them.
- Moving muscles that haven’t been warmed up.
- Moving muscles that haven’t been stretched.
- Using improper equipment or space, such as not wearing shoes or running in a tight, crowded space.
- Not understanding the rules of a sport or exercise.
- Exercising when hungry, sick, or too tired.
- Common sense must rule the day. We would advise you to help prevent the pain and suffering of injuries by doing the following:
- Be sure your children get a physical exam before beginning (and at least once a year thereafter).
- Don’t ask your children to exercise beyond their limits. Toddlers should not be required to do 50 sit-ups.
- Do not allow your children to play in organized sports or to exercise without proper supervision and instruction.
- Don’t stretch or exercise to the point of pain. We used to hear it said, “No pain, no gain.” This is just not true! If your child says, “Ouch,” then stop!
- Exercise sessions should only take place on days in which your children have had nourishing meals, plenty of water, and lots of rest.
- You should all be eating nourishing meals every day!
- Stretch your muscles every day.
- Always start and finish strenuous activity with a warm-up and stretching time.
The games and activities in this curriculum were intended for homeschooling families with at least two or three children. Since not all families are this large, you may need to adapt some activities. How? Mom and Dad can play along! You could join with other homeschooling families locally. You could invite your neighbor children to exercise with you each afternoon. Be creative and enjoy exercising together.
What Will You Be Doing During P.E. Time?
- A daily “Stretch-and-Flex”
- Daily real-life exercising, such as strength-training, movement of large muscle groups, playing crazy games outdoors, or completing “Challenge Tasks.”
What This P.E. Curriculum Includes:
Day 1 – This is a great day to introduce new goals and to teach new skills.
Day 2 – Randomly choose a Movement Game. You may choose to roll two dice to help you choose fairly.
Day 3 – Use this day to learn about popular American team sports. Some days will involve quiet research while other days will involve active participation. This curriculum allows three weeks to study each sport. See below for more information.
Day 4 – As the week draws to a close, plan for a fun, crazy, wild, and ACTIVE family game. Be sure your chosen helpers have done their “jobs” beforehand.
Day 5 – Today is a health project. The schedule shows no formal exercise time, since many families have one day per week to run errands or join with other homeschooling families. However, it would be wise to take a look at our weekly small research project for interesting peeks at how our bodies work. These projects can be completed as a family throughout the day and into the weekend.
As you might imagine, these days are simply suggestions. Please feel free to take our plan and rearrange it to fit your family and your situation. There is no right or wrong way to do this!
Use dice to randomly choose a Movement Games. Unless weather or circumstances prohibit the activity, you should do whatever the activity card says. (Note: If you absolutely can’t play a game, choose an alternative activity such as an exercise video today.) You may want to choose the card before doing “Stretch & Flex,” so that your “Equipment Checker” can have all the supplies you need ready and you can begin playing immediately.
Each week, your children will be introduced to fun challenges that they should work on throughout the year. As you introduce a new challenge, allow them to set a goal that they would like to reach. Once challenges have been introduced, Mom should only have to supervise from a distance.
Sports & Games
Once a week, we will introduce a common American sport or game. We will learn the rules and some basic skills necessary for success. Don’t expect mastery of any of these games! These activities will only provide enough information to introduce the sport or game. Just have fun and keep the competition friendly! More information is found in each week’s lesson plans.
Quiet Health Research
Many schools incorporate health into their physical education programs. To touch on this subject, we have incorporated a small research project into each week’s lesson plan. You may choose to do these optional projects, or you may also occasionally choose to skip P.E. one day per week, to allow for activities away from home.
Most weeks, we will be recommending websites to view for research. You may wish to supplement or replace our ideas with books and resources of your own. (Please notify us if a link does not work.)
You can also find some helpful health information on our own website, Anne’s Health Place.
We will introduce your family to the following sports by spending three weeks on each. This is the format we will follow:
Week 1 – Learn More
Spend time online researching basic rules, learning basic techniques, and developing ideas for practice.
Week 2 – Appreciate More
Develop an appreciation for the skill and passion of the game by watching others play. Watching a live game is best, but depending on your location and the time of the year, it may be easier to observe by watching movies, reading books, and interviewing local participants. Don’t overlook the possibility of renting video games and/or game systems that allow you to “play” the sport.
Week 3 – Play More
This week we’ll review the basic rules and play a homeschool-style version of the game. Enjoy!
We’ll be learning a little about the following sports:
- Track & Field Sports
If you have a sport you’d like us to add to the curriculum, please let us know!
About Homeschool P.E. (…for the P.E.-Challenged Mom)
Homeschool P.E. (…for the P.E.-Challenged Mom) is copyright 2013 by Anne Elliott and was originally published for Foundations Press in 2005.
All rights reserved. No part of this curriculum may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. You do have permission to photocopy the curriculum for your own personal use. You may select individual pages to copy, or you may copy the entire curriculum! It is up to you how much of the information you want to copy and for how many children in your family you want to use it. You can copy this curriculum for use in your immediate family only; redistributing the book to other families is strictly prohibited.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).
Published by Foundations Press