With the increased work load and outside activities, it’s easy to overlook physical education when you’re homeschooling middle school. With elementary age kids, they are all about constant motion. Middle school, and the physical changes it brings, is often when kids start slowing down – preferring more sedentary activities like computer and video games. Finding the time for regular, meaningful physical activity is a challenge worth rising to.
For you, you will know that you have given your child the information about the importance of physical activity, good nutrition and sound sleep habits. Additionally, middle schoolers who are exercising on a regular basis are more likely to skip the dramatic mood swings that can come with puberty. Your child can use the middle school years as a way to try out a variety of activities until he finds that one that he most enjoys. Along the way, he’ll make friends and be challenged.
Finding the right activity for your child can be a challenge. It’s important to take his personality into account as well as your time and your budget. Determine a set amount of time your child must commit to an activity before moving on to another. Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks to really know if something is a good fit. Look for activities through your homeschooling group, your church, parks and recreation in your town, the public and private school systems (many welcome homeschoolers) and local businesses/gyms. Consider some other options:
- Dancing is for everyone. Explore a variety of different types of dancing – ballet’s not for everyone but, what about tap?
- If your child loves all things quirky, look in your area and online for information about circus arts.
- Set up a home workout program. This program is a reasonable beginning weight lifting program that would be affordable to set up at home. Alternatively, look into a family membership at your local Y or family-friendly gym.
- Look into local bicycling clubs – many welcome kids 12 and up to their activities.
- Depending where you live are there skateboarding, skiing, snow boarding, or surfing clubs your child might enjoy?
- Take advantage of free trials! Martial arts, dance schools, gymnastics school and others usually offer at least one free class to give you an idea if the activity is something you want to pursue.
If your child finds a sport or activity he become passionate about, it’s not too early to find out what opportunities there are as he heads into high school. If your child loves lacrosse and wants to play on your local high school’s teams, find out now if that’s a possibility. It will depend if the team is an NCAA team or a scholastic team. NCAA teams generally allow homeschoolers who are willing to do a mountain of paperwork. Scholastic teams usually do not allow homeschoolers. If your local school is not an option look into private schools and/or private clubs.
Finally, remember the ultimate goal is a lifetime of fitness – not a sports scholarship or an Olympic medal! Convey this message to your child. Kids often hesitate to try new sports for fear of not being good at them. Remind them that the majority of people are not particularly good at any sport but that they don’t let their lack of skill keep them from enjoying it. If he doesn’t believe you, take him out to a golf course on any Saturday afternoon. Keep it fun and your entire family will reap the benefits.