Most homeschooling parents would agree that exercise is important for their children. For many high school students, physical education credits are required for graduation, and there’s very good reason for states to have this requirement. Exercise from homeschool P.E. promotes heart health, muscle development, a stronger immune system, and more restful sleep. But research shows it can also aid children’s mental development and help them focus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get at least one hour of physical activity every day. A good way to ensure your child is getting enough regular exercise is to make homeschool physical education a part of your curriculum.
Do your kids need homeschool P.E.?
While most states don’t list physical education as a subject that you’re required to teach in your homeschool, it is often listed as a graduation requirement for high school graduates. It would be valuable to have homeschool P.E. credits listed on your homeschool transcript. Even if it’s not required by laws, every family needs consistent physical activity and can benefit from physical education, even those whose children are already physically active. The goal of physical education isn’t just to peel kids off the couch playing video games and get them moving more. A comprehensive P.E. program should prepare children to establish healthy habits they will practice throughout their lives. For Christians, the goal is to glorify God by taking care of the bodies He has given us. We are responsible to teach our children how to take care of ourselves physically so that we can better serve God and others.
Homeschool Education Requirements
Not all states require physical education for homeschoolers, but several do. As with other subjects, you will need to check your state’s specific requirements regarding physical education courses. Some states require P.E. only for high schoolers for a single year. Participation in a team sport such as basketball, soccer, or volleyball may be counted for homeschool P.E. credit.
How to Get Credit for Homeschool P.E.
If your high schooler participates in a daily homeschool P.E. program for an entire school year, one high school credit can be applied to their transcript. This amounts to about one hour each day, or 120 to 180 hours of work. If your student is a player on a local team or takes lessons outside the home, you can count those activities for your homeschool P.E. credits. If your teenager is planning to attend college, it’s a good idea to include at least 2 to 4 credits of P.E. on their transcript. Although many colleges don’t require P.E., they will recognize your teen’s effort to develop their physical fitness and socialization skills.
What does homeschool physical education look like?
Homeschool P.E. encompasses much more than just physical activity. A well-rounded P.E. program will also teach proper nutrition, self-discipline, teamwork, perseverance, setting goals, and managing stress. Physical education can greatly help us accomplish our goal of preparing our children to make healthy choices for themselves. Along with encouraging exercise, a P.E. course should include teaching other healthy habits such as drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, good food habits, etc.
P.E. for Kids vs. Middle Schoolers vs. High Schoolers
Physical education should progress as your child grows, just like other areas of education do. It’s important to keep your child’s physical abilities in mind as you incorporate P.E. into their routine. Strive for a balance of challenging your child without exhausting him. Too much pressure to exercise can cause your child to dread it, so aim to keep it fun. Remember that children develop at different rates, and you will need to adapt their P.E. for their current physical and mental capacities. For elementary school children, ideal physical activities include kickball, jumping rope, playing catch, or riding a bike. In middle school, many kids are ready to begin playing a team sport such as basketball, volleyball, or soccer. High school is a great time for teens to pursue individual achievement sports such as swimming, track, martial arts, or gymnastics.
Many traditional schools and local organizations allow homeschool students to participate in team sports or individual competition, so you needn’t be concerned about opportunities as you encourage your child to participate in a physical activity that they enjoy and that will help them grow stronger and healthier. If they are nervous about joining a team sport or individual competitions, one option is for you to do activities with them. Not only will it make it more enjoyable for them, but it will also help you stay physically active and healthy. Some great activities to enjoy with your family are hiking, playing badminton or tennis, riding bikes, throwing a frisbee, or swimming.
How to Log Your Homeschool Physical Education
Logging physical education can be as simple as recording daily hours spent in a spreadsheet, or adding time spent on P.E. into a Homeschool Hub class assigned to your student. You can also find free printable physical activity logs to record your students’ physical education hours.
28 Homeschool P.E. Activities
P.E. Activities for Preschool or Kindergarten
- Riding tricycles or bikes with training wheels. This will help teach your child balance.
- Playing catch or kickball. These kinds of activities are extremely helpful for developing hand/eye coordination.
- Playing freeze tag. Nothing gets a child running, or gets the wiggles out, like a good game of tag.
- Playing on a playground. Playground equipment often gives kids safe opportunities to climb, run, jump, and swing, using all their muscle groups while also learning what they are capable of.
- Duck, Duck, Goose. This game will always be an easy and fun one to teach little ones.
1. P.E. Games for Kids
- Badminton. You don’t even have to have a net to play badminton, so all you really need are the rackets, shuttlecocks (or birdies), and a bit of yard or park to play in.
- Kickball. Whether you’re just taking turns kicking the ball from one person to another or using more complicated rules, this game can be easily adaptable to any size group or location.
- Hopscotch. You can make your own hopscotch grid on a sidewalk or driveway using colored chalk.
- Jumping rope. Jumping rope takes minimal space to set up and can even be done inside. It’s great exercise for hand/eye coordination that also increases heart rate.
- Relay races. Make a simple track around your house or the local park, or mix it up by adding a three-legged race or sack race.
- Jumping on a trampoline. Another activity that takes minimal space and can be a great in-between activity to add between lessons or in the middle of lessons to help your kids get their wiggles out. It’s exercise that doesn’t even feel like exercise!
- Scavenger hunt. You can get creative with these by searching the Internet for different ideas.
P.E. Games for Middle School
Many of the games for kids listed above will also work well for your middle schoolers, too, especially if they’re playing together with younger siblings. In addition, middle school is a great time to introduce your kids to team sports or individual competitive skills such as
- Basketball (or some version of it)
- Roller skating or blading
P.E. Ideas for High School
In the high school years, if you’re planning to include homeschool physical education credits on your student’s transcript, it may be beneficial to look into team sports or classes which would offer you reports or information you can use for reporting. You might also have access to sport camps for certain team camps that would also give you reports you can submit if you need to.
- Team Sports and Sport Camps
- Individual Sports and Activities
- Cross country
- Equestrian activities
- Martial arts
P.E. Ideas When You’re Stuck Indoors
- Simon Says.
- Musical Chairs.
- Captain, Yes Captain. This is a more active version of Simon Says and works ideally in a large space, like a gym. Whoever is selected as Captain calls out coded commands, which are explained at the beginning of the game. The last player to complete a command or reach is out of the game. The winner is the child that’s still in at the end. Some of these include:
- “Bow.” Run to the front of the gym.
- “Stern.” Run to the back of the gym.
- “Row.” Drop to the ground and pretend to row with your arms.
- “Starboard.” Run to the side of the gym.
- “Captain’s Quarters.” Run to the Captain.
- “Hit the deck.” Lie down on your stomach.
- “Shark!” Run to designated bases.
- Balloon volleyball or tennis. Blow up a balloon (or two) and follow the rules of volleyball or tennis for a fun inside game.
P.E. Ideas with No Equipment
- Taking a hike.
- Walking the dog.
- Running around a track or ballfield.
- Aerobic exercises such as jumping jacks, pushups, squats, lunges, burpees, etc.
- Freeze tag.
- Four corners: designate four areas that are “corners” for people to stand in.
- One player stands in the middle, closes their eyes, and counts from 1–10 out loud.
- During the counting, all players must either stay where they are or quietly move to a different corner. They must be at a designated corner by “10” or they are out.
- Once the counting is done, the person in the middle calls out the corner of their choice while keeping their eyes closed.
- Anyone standing in that corner must sit down. If no one is standing in the chosen corner, the game continues.
- The last player standing will be the counter for the next round.
Benefits of Physical Education in Your Homeschool
The benefits of incorporating homeschool physical education into your curriculum go beyond simply getting your children to be physically fit and active. Regular exercise, even as simple as taking a 20-minute walk, can significantly improve mental, physical, and emotional health. The short-term, immediate benefits you’ll see as you begin to add homeschool P.E. to your routine can include
- Supports regular sleeping habits and increases energy
- Quality family time through fun games and group activities
- Increased emotional stability
- Reduced risk of injury
- Increased mental focus
Additionally, teaching your children what to do and how to care for their bodies can is an important foundation for long-term healthy habits that will lead them to live fuller lives as adults.
• • • • •Jennifer is a pastor’s wife and mom of two young girls and loves homeschooling them. During her own twelve years of being homeschooled, Jennifer developed a passion for reading and writing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and relishes writing during her free time.