Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to our approach and involvement in physical education as home learners and as I haven’t blogged about it before, it is a topic that I thought I might share. When I think of physical education I think of whole-body movement, where the child is actively moving. If your child is anything like my children, they are constantly moving and on the go so when it comes to registering for home education, here is how I approach it.
In regards to curriculum, the terminology that is use to define physical education uses words such as “fundamental movement skills”, “movement sequences”, “participation”, “following rules” and “cooperation”. If you take away the jargon that is used, you can narrow the definition of physical education down further to just play. Yes, simple PLAY! Some may try and argue that physical education is more then just play but to me, play is physical education.
A combination of unstructured play and the right environment can and does incorporate those “fundamental movement skills” and sequences that a curriculum outlines. Unstructured play also incorporates participation and cooperation as children play together. A sequencing of body movements is required of children as they climb over rocks at a creek, collect sticks for building, dig for rocks and other treasure all the while negotiating with others how their exciting adventure plays out. Lets not forget the other wonderful inspiring learning opportunities The Nature Curriculum can give to children.
The involvement of locomotor and non-locomotor movements such as rolling, balancing, sliding, jogging, running, leaping, hopping, skipping, bouncing, stretching, bending….oh the list goes on….is all done through unstructured play. We enjoy family hikes with friends through the bush most weekends, bike rides, walks on the beach and playing in the park. These activities all promote good health and physical education. And the best part is that for the most part, it’s free!
Together with unstructured play, my children also do a range of other, more structured, physical education activities as well. Last year my son joined the Junior Rangers and spent many hours hiking through the bush with other kids and their ranger learning about plants, animals, safety and nature. He has also participated in team sports such as soccer and AFL Auskick as well as tennis and basketball. But before choosing a physical education activity to do, there are two main elements that we take into consideration.
The first element is that physical education needs to be fun and enjoyable. In the past, my eldest has had swimming lessons with an instructor but when it got to a point where he just wasn’t enjoying what he was doing, we let it go. Did he learn to swim? Yes, eventually he did. How did he learn without lessons? We provided him with opportunities to swim by taking him to the beach and to the pool. Although I am a trained swimming instructor, I provided support rather than rigorous repetitive swimming routines and when my son was ready, he learned how to swim. We have used the same approach with our daughters. All we did was provide the environment to give them opportunities to swim.
The second element is that the physical education activity needs to be something my children are interested in. We are interest led learners so we don’t EVER push an activity onto our children that they are simply not interested in. We do make suggestions but ultimately leave the decision up to our children. Sometimes they want to try an activity for a few weeks before moving onto something else and other times, they spend year after year doing the same activity. This year all three of my children wanted to try gymnastics. Our local homeschool group had organised lessons for the term so they got to enjoy this activity with other homeschool kids.
Another physical education activity that my son has enjoyed is archery. He has had archery lessons and when he couldn’t have lessons, he would make his own bows and arrows (who hasn’t?!) and continued to enjoy this sport.
If you look at Physical Education in the Australian Curriculum it goes hand in hand with health. Health can cover topics such as fire safety, street safety, feelings and emotions, communication and listening to others, body development and healthy living. We have learned about health and healthy living through a range of interest-led activities and you can read them on the links below:
I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on physical education and some of the activities that your child/students love to do. I hope this post has encouraged you to add free play to your physical education outlook and not to get caught up in many afternoon sport activities when free play can be all a child needs.