Unless state laws have specific requirements (check your laws HERE) physical education for homeschoolers is an area that is completely up to the parent. Although some families may do it differently from others, most seem to agree that physical fitness is essential to healthy child development and should be included in the educational curriculum.
Homeschool families typically handle physical education (P.E.) in 1 of 2 ways. They either:
(1) award credit for physical activities that are already a part of a child’s regular day; or
(2) assign additional physical activities above and beyond the level of normal activity.
Look at each option in more detail:
Awarding credit for physical activities that are already part of the child’s day
This method is based on the philosophy that, as long as children are already relatively active, this constitutes enough physical education for homeschool credit. That is, if children do things like swimming in the family pool, walking the dogs or riding bikes on weekends, no additional P.E. is necessary. For these families, checking off P.E. hours is easy, as long as the physical activities occur on a fairly regular basis and meet whatever general guidelines the parents have set for the children.
Assigning additional physical activities above and beyond a child’s normal level of activity
This system operates on the notion that additional physical fitness activities, requiring more than the usual level of exertion, that improve a child’s level of physical fitness, are required before P.E. credit can be awarded. Families using these guidelines might require children to learn new outdoor games, play team or individual sports, join a homeschool P.E. coop program, use equipment to improve muscle tone, learn a new exercise program, or anything else that enhances physical fitness above the level at which it began. This practice may also yield some kind of measurable results, if families choose to track them as well.
When physical education is defined to also include a health/wellness component, this must be considered, too. Because so many activities contribute to health and wellness, parents will need to judge what is acceptable to them. Examples could include, but are not limited to: healthy cooking at home, organic gardening, learning about homeopathy, studying government nutritional guidelines, practicing yoga or meditation, or anything else parents deem worthy of school credit. For parents requiring an even higher level of fitness and understanding, establishing a total personal and nutritional fitness program can be designed, complete with daily requirements, periodic measurements and assessments at the end. Even a supervised weight loss program, if one has been recommended by a health practitioner, can be used as a P.E. program.
To learn more about P.E. for homeschoolers, start with these links and then find others on your own:
President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition
The President’s Challenge
National Association for Sport and Physical Education
Kid’s Health from Nemours
Horizons Physical Education Curriculum
Alpha Omega Health Curriculum
Homeschool Family Fitness Book
The Ultimate Homeschool Physical Education Game Book
Choose My Plate (formerly the government nutrition pyramid)
Little League Online
U.S. Youth Soccer
Youth Basketball of America
Youth Golf Association
National Alliance for Youth Sports
National Federation of High School Sports
Let’s Move in School