How to Create a Killer PE Class for Your Kids
Homeschooling your kids is a formidable task: between hours of work, reams of reading, and stacks of lesson plans, PE often finds the back burner — or gets skipped entirely.
It shouldn’t. The physical activities you do in your formative years can profoundly affect body composition, bone density, and other health and wellness markers later in life. Teaching your kids the importance of exercise early on helps to ensure that they will continue to take care of their bodies long after they’ve fled the nest.
Research indicates that moving also helps facilitate learning. In a 2018 study of young students, just ten minutes of light physical activity significantly improved scores on tests of cognition.
How Do You Homeschool PE?
Getting your kid to move regularly — and meaningfully — can be daunting, especially when you’re fighting the allure of Instagram, NBA 2K21, and other things that blink and beep. Here are a few tried-and-true strategies for making it happen.
1. Keep it playful
As you may remember from gym class, the key to PE is keeping things fun. The drill-sergeant approach may work for adults who enjoy physical challenges and sore muscles, but it’s the wrong strategy for kids. Go with a fun, affirmative, can-do approach.
2. Perfect is the enemy of good
Don’t be too exacting or demanding in the way you teach PE. Kids’ bodies are softer, springier, and more limber than adults. So don’t expect them to pull off a perfect plank or deadlift on day one. Introduce an activity, reinforce and reward success and effort, and move on.
3. Variety, not specialization
Monotony is the enemy of fun — especially when you’re a kid. In a training program, it can also increase the risk of injury, hitting a fitness plateau, and burnout. The fix: Change things up frequently.
4. Make it a game
Games are always great as long as you downplay competition and reward effort as much as achievement. Activities that involve throwing, catching, and chasing a ball are almost always a winner. Games and activities that involve brief periods of maximal effort are good, too. These include:
- timed races
- obstacle courses
5. Intervals are your friend
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) isn’t just for busy adults trying to squeeze in a workout in a short period. It’s also a great way to give young adults a great workout in minimal time. You don’t have to call it HIIT: it might be “Run from the dragon,” or “cake-delivery relay.”
6. Everybody loves toys
Sure, you can get a great workout without equipment, but stuff can spark your and your child’s imagination and help provide more possibilities for play, fun, and exploration. Simple gym class tools could include:
- hula hoops
- light-weight bars
- medicine balls
Homeschool PE Activities for Kids
- Determine the field of play: from a ten-foot square area to a football field.
- Choose a person to be “It.”
- On “go,” the designated “It” tries to tag as many people as possible, who sit down in place.
- Game is over when only one person remains standing or when all players are out.
Continuous Tag: The first person to get tagged becomes “It.” Play for a set amount of time. The person who was “It” least frequently wins. (This version works better if you have a small number of players.)
Freeze Tag: Tagged players freeze in place with legs spread wide until another (active) player unfreezes them by crawling between their legs.
2. Bear crawl
- Assume an all-fours position on the ground with your back flat, your knees bent 90 degrees below your hips, and your arms straight with your hands directly beneath your shoulders.
- Keeping your back flat and your knees off of the ground, move your right foot and left hand forward.
- Repeat with your left foot and right hand.
- Continue moving forward (or forward and backward) for up to a minute at a time. The key is to always move opposite hands and feet together (i.e., a “cross crawl” pattern).
3. Crab walk
- Sit on the ground with your knees bent, feet flat, and hands flat on the ground beside you, fingers pointing forward.
- Keeping your arms straight, lift your hips until your body is straight from shoulders to knees (or as straight as you can get it).
- Walk forward, backward, and side-to-side in this manner, moving opposite arms and legs together.
Alternating Toe-Touch Variation:
- Holding the crab position, raise your right foot, and touch it with your left hand.
- Lower your hand and foot, and repeat with your left foot and right hand.
- Continue alternating sides for up to a minute at a time.
- Set up a row of 5 to 15 cones or plastic hurdles (anywhere from a few inches to a couple of feet in height), about three large paces apart.
- Starting from one end, jump, hop, or leap over the hurdles as quickly and smoothly as you can.
5. Ball Drop
- Hold a ball in your right hand at shoulder height, and have your child stand behind a line about ten feet away from you.
- Without giving them a warning, drop the ball. The child tries to catch the ball before it bounces twice.
- If they are successful, have them move 2 to 3 feet further away for their next attempt.
- Continue until they miss three in a row.
6. Hill Climbs or Sprints
- Find a long, steep hill (paved, grass, or trail) and sprint up it as fast as possible for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Walk back down slowly, and then repeat the sprint.
- Perform three to 10 sprints total.
- From a standing position, lower yourself to a prone (facedown) or supine (face up) position on the ground, and then pop back up to a standing position as fast as possible.
- Do two to three sets of 10 to 20 reps.
8. Farmer Carries
- Carry any large, heavy object (e.g., kettlebell, sandbag, package of potting soil or dog food) overhead at shoulder height or in the bear hug position for 10 to 50 yards.
- Proper form is key here. Be sure to keep your core engaged, back flat, chest up, and shoulders back as you walk.
9. Obstacle Courses
In a yard, park, or other large, open area, combine any number of the activities above into a series of “obstacles” to be completed as quickly as possible. For example:
- Bear crawl 25 yards
- Jump five hurdles
- Carry a 25-pound weight 20 yards
- Climb over a tree branch
- Sprint 50 yards
- Peak Bone Mass search.proquest.com/openview/bebca39d9555ad5d8091d43daf32c14e/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=33762
- The Effect of Movement on Cognitive Performance www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5919946/
High-intensity interval training for improving health-related fitness in adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis