If you’ve made the choice to homeschool this year, you’re not alone. There are thousands of other Canadian families who have chosen to learn at home this year too.
You can make sure physical activity is a key part of your homeschool experience by making active play a regular part of your routines, and finding fun ways to learn while also developing physical literacy.
Here are some tips to help you become an active homeschool family:
Take advantage of a flexible schedule
Homeschooling can be very efficient and flexible! In fact, for younger students, formal learning at home typically takes between 30 minutes to one hour a day. That leaves the rest of the day for hands-on learning opportunities that could include adventuring in your community or getting outside to play.
Judy Arnall, director of the Alberta Homeschooling Association, suggests biking as a family to the store, trying out some of your old sports equipment, or exploring your neighbourhood by taking advantage of local attractions and natural spaces that see fewer people on weekdays.
Renee Kirby, a homeschool parent of a child with diverse needs, shared that one of her favourite parts of homeschooling is being able to go out hiking, biking, and camping during the week, because there’s more time to get out and be active—and it’s easier to avoid crowds.
You can make the most of your flexible schedule by:
- Getting active in your neighbourhood by walking, rolling, or biking when roadways are typically less busy
- Creating an outdoor play space to have fun with nature play
- Trying out hiking by heading to the mountains or natural areas on a weekday
- Heading for a mid-morning bike adventure at a bike park
- Trying out some budget-friendly winter activities in the early afternoon when the temperature is typically warmer
Combine physical activity with learning
Growing evidence shows that children who participate in physical activity while learning, have a big advantage, especially when it comes to math and spelling! As a homeschool family, you can take advantage of a flexible schedule by combining physical activity with learning.
Active ways to explore math and science:
- Head to your local playground to experiment with gravity by dropping a ball from a height, kinetic energy on the swings, and other basic physics theories
- Gather loose parts to explore simple machines and STEM concepts (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) by using materials that can be taken apart and reimagined
- Take a walk in a natural area to learn more about biology including plants and animals native to your area
- Create a play centre that includes dice, cards, measuring tapes, and a thermometer to encourage exploration through play
Move while practicing reading and writing skills:
- Practice letters by playing Human Alphabet or ABC Tag
- Have fun with an active story: read a story aloud and have your child act out the story’s characters including their actions, moods, and emotions
- Practice sight words by writing a word on a recipe card along with a movement (i.e. “friend” and “five jumping jacks”). Have your child work their way through the stack of “cards” by reading the word and completing the action listed on the card
- Create a word hopscotch by using words instead of numbers to help practice word recognition
Build in “brain breaks”
“Brain breaks” are short bursts of physical activity or playtime (typically no more than 10 minutes!) that break up time spent sitting and/or on a focused activity.
Not only can brain breaks help children with concentration and focus in the long run, they are a great way to sneak in more physical activity during the day.
If you need some inspiration, you can print the Active for Life Recipe for an Active Day and post it in your homeschool learning space, or try some of these easy brain break ideas:
- Set a timer for five minutes and play a game of Simon Says, What Time is it Mr. Wolf?, or freeze tag!
- Try out some mood-boosting yoga poses
- Have a mini dance party by throwing on some great family friendly jams
- Grab a pair of socks and try out sock bowling, dodgeball, or just practice throwing and catching
- Blow up some balloons and play Hot Potato or balloon volleyball
- Jump online to try out five favourite (kid-tested!) active YouTube channels
- Bookmark 200 activities you can do with children at home
Ask any homeschool family and they’ll tell you finding “your community” is an important part of the homeschool experience.
According to Carley Jackson, a homeschool parent for the past four years, finding a group of like-minded families is not only important for getting support, but also for social interaction for both children and parents.
There are lots of homeschool families that stay active together by being involved in nature play meetups, organized sports programs, and even dance classes geared towards homeschool families.
You can find ways to get connected and stay active by:
- Searching online for “homeschool groups in (your city)”
- Checking out Meetup or social media sites like Facebook and Instagram
- Contacting your local recreation centre and inquiring about homeschool recreation programs
- Not finding what you’re looking for? Why not create your own—like a Little Explorers Club or homeschool meetup group in your area?
Stay active and have a great homeschool year!
Word hopscotch photo courtesy of Jen Goeres.