Do Homeschoolers Need Sports and P.E.?
October 3, 2018
Hey Mama,

Look at those kids . . . running around the yard kicking a ball to each other. And that little one trying to keep up, looking up to his big siblings. Relationships—that's what matters most. Playing sports together, getting outside as a family, all of that builds relationships . . . and fall is the perfect time of year for it. 

As you encourage your kids to play a sport, do P.E. or just have fun outside, remember, you're building more than healthy, athletic children, you're building memories and moments. Need ideas on how to incorporate sports and P.E. into your homeschool? Read these articles from The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine:

And remember, Mama. . .

New week, new start. Just as His mercies are new every morning, they’re new every week, too. Work on RELATIONSHIP more than anything else this week. It trumps academics. It trumps a tidy house or made beds. It trumps activities, sports, busy-ness. Relationship with our kids is the foundation so we can build all this other “stuff” in a sustainable manner.

Being close to our kids doesn’t mean becoming their best friend and giving them their way. Many parents make the mistake of being scared to death of upsetting their kids, that maybe “they won’t love me anymore.” That's a bad trap to fall into, and kids see it for what it is. Be a strong parent. You know better than they do and can guide them. Do it, even if it makes them mad. Believe me, that “mad” attitude is temporary.

Relationship building means being involved, available, around them, a lot of conversations, to come alongside, to teach, to share moments. When you cook lunch, pull one (or more) of them in there with you and give them jobs. Play a game, stop and sing songs together, let them tell you stories. Read aloud. Just BE together. Make sure the “stuff” gets done—don’t worry, it will eventually. More important is the Mama time with each one of them. The memories.

And when they are old, they will remember. They won’t give a second thought to whether the house was always clean when they were kids. They’ll sit and reflect on the relationship they had with you, and they will long for it when it is gone . . . when Mama is no longer around.

- gena 
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This past summer, my older boys, Ben (25), Sam (23), and Abe (17) played in their first softball league. The team was made up of men and women, all of whom were friends.

To tell the truth, I was a little nervous because none of my boys had ever played. The two oldest played t-ball as little kids . . . and we did toss a ball around the backyard a little, but our life on the road made much more than that hard to fit in. We just didn’t have time to do the sports lifestyle.

So, you can imagine that a manly dad like myself (who played baseball all his growing up years) was a little nervous the first game I attended. Our team got squashed . . . the boys did okay, and everyone had a blast!

In the bleachers I sat next to Jerry, the father of my son Sam’s fiancé. We both laughed as the ball bounced out of their mitts and went over their heads or between their legs.

After one mishap, I laughed and said, “ Oh my, I failed as a father.”

I’ll never forget his response. He looked at me and said in dead seriousness, “ You didn’t fail; your kids are great.” That was it.

I felt like what he was saying was, “Who cares about softball . . . it doesn’t even matter . . . the things you’ve taught your kids are way more important than being able to hit a ball or catch a fly.”
He’s right. If you can’t fit in sports . . . don’t sweat it. You’re doing way more important stuff as you do— family. In fact, sometimes sports get in the way of family.

That said, you should take the kids outside today during school and do something with a ball.

Be real,

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Stacy Farrell
Critical thinking can be applied to any subject—including how we handle sports and P.E. in our homeschools. Rather than replicate a public school experience, we can enjoy one of the greatest perks of homeschooling: the prerogative to thoughtfully custom-design our days. 

What Others Have Done
We have a wonderful community of homeschoolers on our Home School Adventure Facebook Page
When I learned the topic of this week’s column, I asked our Facebook friends whether they thought homeschoolers needed to participate in P.E. and sports. 

Here are just a few of their replies:
  • Sure—if you count riding bikes, hiking, and climbing trees as P.E. (I do!)
  • When would we have time for P.E.? Between homeschool soccer, karate, class at the farm, playground playdates, and playing outside with siblings, we'd never be able to squeeze in more scheduled activities!
  • Public school P.E. is NOT what we need. Our kids need to learn things like proper exercise, nutrition, rest, hydration—all that is required to properly maintain these physical bodies God has blessed us with.
  • They don’t need it, but my boys LOVE it.
  • Our children learned a variety of sports and games with others in our support group. They also learned to be self-disciplined, the value of hard work, how to cooperate with others, to be gracious in both winning and losing, to respect authority, to forgive, and many other valuable skills. Sports were a great way for our family to reinforce these lessons.
  • It depends on each individual family’s activities. When we were homeschooling, we were also ranching; so we had plenty of activity!
(You can read more comments here.)

What Worked for Us
My husband taught our sons how to swim, play catch, play frisbee, ride bikes, wrestle, drive go carts (on special occasions), and simply made it a habit to get them out in the fresh air. 

When my sons were little, we participated in a homeschool gym-and-swim program. It was a great place to meet new friends. :)

When my sons grew older, they started playing disc golf with their dad (and sometimes me) several times a week. (Even though they are doing college online, they still play every chance they can.) It’s a great way to create space for meaningful conversations.

Exercise...Your Freedom
As you can see from the responses from our Facebook friends, each family needs to discover what physical activities work best for them.

Requirements for homeschooled kids differ from state to state. After you’ve learned your state’s requirements, it’s time to exercise your freedom. 

Explore the possibilities. Don’t be afraid to be creative! Custom design a physical education experience that will uniquely inspire your children to become healthy, fit adults.
With love & joy (Phil. 1:4),

P.S. You’re invited to browse the insightful comments of our homeschool Facebook Friends (and Like and Follow our page) by clicking here.

Stacy Farrell helps parents equip their children to stand firm for truth in the midst of this crazy culture. She is the author of books on time management, motherhood, manhood, philosophy ( Philosophy Adventure ), and writing. Although she loves to write, speak, and teach, she considers her role as wife to Roger and mother to two precious sons to be her greatest work and privilege. Visit her at .
Tracy Klicka
Home School Foundation,
I distinctly remember third grade as one of my worst years in school. Number one reason? Kickball. I was forced to be on the team, or more accurately, my classmates were forced to have me on their team. I recall standing on the field grouped with my classmates—I was the freckled, introverted, pudgy kid—and as the team captains started picking the members of their team, the number of kids around me grew smaller. Soon, I was the only one left. No one wanted me on their team. I had never felt more alone or unwanted in my life.

This became a regular experience for me. As a result, I came to dread team sports in school. I wasn’t coordinated. I wasn’t competitive. And I wasn’t athletic. So, writing about this topic is a little challenging for me. My first impulse is to say, “If you have a kid like me, run far away and don’t look back!”

However, I’ve come to realize that most kids aren’t like I was. Some of my own children are naturally very athletic and hard-wired for competition on the playing field; I imagine some of yours are, too. For these types of kids, being on the team can be a “real game changer.” 

Yet, even for the kids who aren’t athletically inclined, there is so much good to be had in both sports and P.E. I’d like to share how each type of child in our family benefited from these, both your jocks and your N.A.R.P.s—yes, this is a real term—meaning Non-Athletic Regular Person.

How sports and P.E. benefit your child’s body, mind, and spirit:
  • Improves overall physical fitness—Strengthens their health and stamina and reduces the risk of many types of disease (diabetes, heart issues, muscular and joint problems, etc.)
  • Develops motor skills—Especially true for children who have a weakness in gross motor skills, like one of my daughters had since birth
  • Teaches good, self-discipline—Being timely for practice and games, as well as developing a regular routine
  • Instills the rewards of exercise, movement, and athletic activity at a young age (it’s easier to do this with kids than with adults!)
  • Effective and healthy means of stress reduction
  • Improves self-confidence—A child may have a natural ability, but all children can grow with effort and practice; this creates a positive experience for your children, thus building their self-esteem and confidence
  • Develops good social skills—Cooperation, respect, and leadership
  • Can provide your child with positive, healthy mentors
  • Gets your kids outdoors more (and parents, too!)—Because of increased screen time, this is actually a serious problem in our culture (see this Washington Post article for more info.)
  • Improves their academics—Research consistently shows that kids who are active are also better students

One word of encouragement if you have a child who, like me, is not inclined to play competitive, organized sports—there are so many other ways they can be active. Get them outdoors and hike, bike, swim, ski, kayak or canoe, and even just walk. They will be healthier and enjoy God’s Creation at the same time! Here’s to your (and their) health!

Tracy Klicka , the widow of former HSLDA  attorney Christopher Klicka, is a homeschooling mom of seven, now adult children. As a seasoned homeschooler and gifted writer and speaker for over 20 years, Tracy has addressed thousands of parents at homeschooling conventions and women’s events, has contributed to Christianity Today , regularly writes for national homeschool publications, and has contributed to her late husband’s books on homeschooling. She currently serves as Director of Development for the  Home School Foundation , the charitable arm of HSLDA , which helps families homeschooling through hard times. She also blogs at  and for HSLDA’s  Everyday Homeschooling   blog column.

She can be reached at .
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The complexity of children never ceases to amaze me. They are constantly absorbing information and experiences, synthesizing them all together with their unique personality and all that has happened in their lives to that point, and discovering (and saying!) the most unexpected and sometimes marvelous things. Their bodies, minds, and spirits are constantly learning, and as a member, you have access to resources to help you feed each of these important areas. 

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To help you feed your children’s spirits, we have more than 50 Bible courses for all ages. Whether you are looking for animated Bible stories for your little ones, Bible studies for tweens, or challenging studies to help your high schoolers understand the reason and foundations of their faith, you can find tools on 

If you haven’t yet joined, come give us a try! Your first month is just $5. If you or someone you know would be interested in teaching or writing for us, let us know. You can email me at Discover the wealth of materials available right at your fingertips at 

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The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
Contest Corner  
For the month of October

See more books from: Purple House Press

Little Britches - Father and I Were Ranchers, is a work of fiction by Ralph Moody originally published in 1950. Purple House Press has done a reprint in 2017 of the book in hardcover with 260 pages, and has the book listed at $21.95. Free printable coloring pages are available on their website. I counted nineteen black and white pictures inside the chapter book. The book still has an “old feel” with off-white pages and a font that looks less modern. The story was written with ages 9-14 in mind, though the story was interesting for my younger elementary child to hear as well.

I first heard of the Little Britches - Father and I Were Ranchers story a few years ago. My kids and I all listened to a read-aloud version while traveling, and we were hooked. It has all the elements to a great story and teaches so many character qualities I want my children to learn. When the opportunity to read and own my own copy came up, the kids and I were all excited. Purple House Press did a great job preserving the book in a suitable fashion. The original artwork by Edward Shenton is intact on both the dust jacket, hardcover, and throughout the story. The free downloadable coloring pages are six high resolution black and white drawings taken from the pages of the book, great for children who need something to keep their hands busy as they listen.

As a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, living books are an integral part of our homeschool. We use real books for every subject, but my favorites always seem to be literature and historical fiction. These are usually the books that find a special place in my heart, because they draw me right into the story alongside the characters.

The mission of Purple House Press is to bring beloved and wholesome children’s books back into print, and one such book they have reprinted is The Chestry Oak. Written by Kate Seredy, a Newbery Medal and Caldecott Honor winner, this book was first published in 1948, with the memories of World War II still fresh.

The young Prince Michael of Chestry is introduced to us as an innocent child, not fully comprehending the war around him. Slowly he watches his homeland of Hungary being torn apart by the war and invading soldiers. Prince Michael then carries the seed of the future, an acorn, all the way to the United States, until he can find a safe place to plant it. 

The book starts a little slow, with long descriptive passages, but as you get into the story, you find not just war and fear and a little boy forced to grow up quickly in a harsh, war-torn valley, but also hope and compassion. You find that he isn’t just holding on to an acorn, but he is holding on to the hope of finding familiarity and comfort. He is searching for a soothing balm for a confused and hurting heart. The ups and downs of Michael’s journey, with a wild horse, doctors, strange dreams and a US soldier, are sure to engage any reader.

I have a few read-alouds going at any time with my kids and we often read from a different book each day. The Chestry Oak has been one of the few books in a long time where they would ask for more. “Are we reading more about Michael today?” I knew we had a winner with the kids, but I admit that this book made my heart feel for Michael as if he were one of my own. Seredy’s writing is superb!

YOU can WIN these two books for your homeschool! 

TO ENTER: Click on over to our entry page and follow the instructions! Contest ends at midnight, the last day of the month.
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