Physical Education: The Forgotten Homeschooling Subject in America

Did you know that homeschool was the standard for education in the early days?

A Brief History of Homeschool

A Brief History of Homeschool

Homeschool was extremely common up until the late 19th century, mainly because this was the only option for families who chose to educate their children. At this point in time many states began passing attendance and truancy laws, which encouraged children to physically attend public or private schools – and this is when education outside of the home became the new standard. Modern homeschool, as we know it today, came to fruition in the 1970s when American educator, John Holt became a proponent of the movement. He challenged the formal school system and slowly small groups of parents began pulling their kids from public schools. In the 1980s more than 20 states legalized homeschooling, and many parents involved in the movement came from religious families.

Enrollment in independent study and homeschool programs has been on the rise in the last ten years, but since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, these numbers are rising at unprecedented rates. So why do parents choose to homeschool their children? The short answer: a variety of reasons, some of which include:

  • Parents feeling concerned about the environment – concerns about safety, drugs, peer pressure, etc. 
  • Children having a negative experience in a traditional setting – i.e., bullying, poor instruction, not feeling academically supported for gifted students OR students with a learning disability, etc. 
  • Religious reasons
  • Dissatisfaction with the school system and academic structure
  • Looking for a different approach to education – non-traditional, holistic, outdoor education, exploring mentorships, etc. 
  • Supporting a child with a learning disability, chronic illness, physical or mental health problem

With COVID-19 being thrown into the mix, now parents have different concerns about the education system, which includes fear of illness, concern about the quality of education, issues with remote learning, vaccine mandates and more. 

States across the United States have different rules and regulations for homeschool families – some students need to be enrolled in a public homeschool program through independent study or a charter school while others can form their own groups and do as they please! 

The rules for curriculum also vary, but we won’t get into that. What we want to shine a light on is that out of all the subject kids study in school, P.E., or physical education always seems to be at the bottom of the list of priorities. Did you know that in addition to obtaining a bachelor’s degree and passing specific certification tests, P.E. teachers also must be knowledgeable in health, anatomy, physiology and biomechanics? It’s no small feat not only teaching students the basics of various sports, but also developing exercises and training activities that promote healthy physical development, boost confidence, improve motor skills, coordination and social skills. 

So why is it that physical education is low on the totem pole in public schools? And better yet why is the physical education homeschooling requirement satisfied with a simple walk or play date at the park? 

Physical Education: The Forgotten Homeschooling Subject in America

Physical Education: The Forgotten Homeschooling Subject in America

Core subjects like math, English, science and history are required for all four years of high school, whereas physical education can be replaced with a team sport, dance and other options. The common attitude towards physical education seems to be “as long as kids are getting some sort of physical activity, the requirement has been met.” This is where there’s an important distinction that needs to be made – there is a big difference between physical education and physical activity. Physical activity is defined as bodily movement of any type, while physical education programs utilize physical activity to teach children how to establish and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Here’s a helpful excerpt from SHAPE America (Society of Health & Physical Educators):

“School physical education programs offer the best opportunity to provide physical activity to all children and to teach them the skills and knowledge needed to establish and sustain an active lifestyle. Physical education should not be compared to or confused with other physical activity experiences such as recess, intramurals, or recreational endeavors.”

Did you know that curriculums for core subjects are extremely thorough with high standards, strict guidelines and testing to measure success and knowledge? This makes sense. But the same doesn’t translate when it comes to physical education. In a traditional school setting the P.E. teacher would be responsible to grade students on various skills, but in physical education homeschooling parents basically set their own standards. Many homeschool parents won’t even bother teaching P.E. in a homeschool program, especially if their children are involved in team sports or other activities. Conducting a simple online search of homeschool lesson plans for physical education will show you that acceptable activities to satisfy the requirement include riding a bike, taking a hike, swimming, jumping on a trampoline, team sports as well as following along with YouTube videos like Cosmic Yoga or P.E. with Joe. 

What this tells us is that school systems, in a traditional setting as well as in homeschool environments simply don’t value physical education as much as academic subjects. It’s a shame that this attitude towards P.E. exists, because a high-quality physical education program will not only prepare students to be physically active for life, but will also reduce stress, anxiety and depression, improve focus and self-esteem, promote social skills and teamwork and help kids become more well-rounded in everything do. 

Pandemic Effects on Physical Education Homeschooling

Pandemic Effects on Physical Education Homeschooling

Physical education programs are being challenged once again because of COVID-19. Schools shut down for almost an entire year, community sports programs were cut, and private classes were also put on hold for a long time. Remote learning for physical education is difficult and physical activity was truly limited to outdoor play, walks, biking and hiking. Kids are now spending more time than ever in front of a screen and many have completely lost interest in physical education and the activities that they once loved. In fact, recent data from the Aspen Institute (Project Play) shows that 28% of children in the United States have completely lost interest in playing sports.

Physical education and physical activity are both vital to the overall health and well-being of children. Even though kids see P.E. as a fun class where they can socialize and play with their friends, and adults don’t consider it important to future success, it’s still an essential subject that should be taught in any educational setting – at home or in-person. 

This is why we created Hiveclass – to make physical education accessible, fun, easy and exciting. By combining technology with a comprehensive curriculum, educators and families can easily incorporate physical education AND physical activity into their routine. Whether you’re looking for functional fitness exercises or sports specific training, our program provides engaging, detailed, bite-sized training videos as well as progress logs and accountability logs to keep everyone on track. 

Join our mobile app, or contact us to learn more about Hiveclass and what we have to offer! 

Categories: Physical Education