November 15, 2010

Homeschoolers' gym class...

Having grown up in typical public school systems, my husband and I each remember well all that gym class, phys. ed., or whatever you want to call it consisted of.  There were many obligatory sports and activities that were easy to organize dozens of  kids into: duck-duck-goose, kickball, volleyball, floor hockey, baseball, running, swimming, ping-pong tournaments, and not to be overlooked for its contribution to good health, square dancing.  That’s not an exhaustive list, but a pretty good sample across the K-12 spectrum.  Gym class was just a part of the school routine, intended to encourage physical fitness for forty minutes a couple times a week.  This system offered kids who didn’t have any exercise or opportunity to play sports outside of school the chance to do so.  To me, it was just a way to mess up my big 80’s hair before Spanish class.  But schools, by virtue of the sheer number of kids there, have to find a one-size-fits-all approach to many of the things that they do.  Since they feel the physical fitness of the students is their responsibility, they have their way to try to accomplish it.
And so do we out here in the homeschooling Wilburness.  We don’t have fifty kids to organize into a tournament.  We don’t have trained-but-now-overweight coaches to teach them the fine points of a sport, or to blow a whistle, yell, and make them cry when they don’t do it quite right.  We don’t have fancy equipment.  And we don’t have a segment of the day devoted to physical activity either.  Our kids just love to play outside.  It’s that simple.  And by not regulating it and forcing them to do so, they don’t see it as a burden, but rather follow their natural childlike desire to run, skip, tumble, throw, race, compete, play, and have fun together.  They do so on a daily basis, depending on weather, but often don’t even let that get in the way.
This is what works for us.  All four kids are a good weight for their height, a topic they never even have to think about.  They are strong and healthy.  They practice good sportsmanship with each other, and have a great time together, despite the wide age range of six to fourteen.  As for me, I’m thankful to not have one more lesson to prepare, especially in a subject that we don’t see as an educational one.  Physical fitness should just be a part of an overall healthy life.  And we think our kids should just get to be kids and go play outside.

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