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One part of homeschooling that might be tough for some families is PE or physical education. But as a dad, let me explain why it can be one of the best parts of your whole curriculum.
The best homeschool PE sport to do is soccer. Not only will you get all the exercise but you will get the chance to make friends, learn discipline, teamwork, and social skills and be a part of a community. It can also aid your family to find other homeschooling families and share knowledge.
PE for homeschool is the perfect opportunity to get your child involved in a team sport like soccer, or football as they call it in Europe. Our son started soccer during his first year of homeschool and it’s an incredible way to get them in shape.
Soccer is a relatively safe sport and requires good communication skills with teammates and the coach. Playing on a team also will build their confidence and promote lasting friendships. When you train hard and play hard daily, this develops a strong bond among players.
Another interesting advantage of playing soccer is that it can boost children’s confidence, and also help reduce stress and the chances of being bullied. We came across this study and researchers concluded that additional benefits arose from the increased sociability and that the children involved felt more social support.
They were better understood and “participating in a sports program during this period improves adaptability to groups, helps develop mental maturity and builds social skills.”
This sense of community and better social skills is certainly something most homeschool parents would probably like to improve. Homeschool PE and sports, is one of the best overall methods to accomplish this.
“This study showed that the youth soccer program significantly improved physical strength, reduced stress, and decreased experiences of being bullied.”Effect of playing soccer on stress, sociality, and physical fitness in alienated youth: a retrospective study
Soccer: Lifelong Learning and Health
I certainly wish that I played soccer when I was a child because there is evidence that shows playing soccer builds good habits. These healthy habits can last even into your 70s. Playing soccer regularly helps you maintain your fitness and activity levels which may last a lifetime.
“…children who are physically active are more likely to become healthier and active adults.”
Comparing self-reported leisure-time physical activity, subjective health, and life satisfaction among youth soccer players and adolescents in a reference sample
Some would say homeschooling is also building good habits for lifelong learning. So homeschool PE and soccer we find is an extension for lifelong learning of healthy habits. I try to keep up with my young son to play soccer and I feel it’s a great workout even though I’m not as skilled as he is.
There’s also evidence to show that playing soccer can help reduce belly fat and also help with other health issues. Some related follow-up studies show how soccer may help with other conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. All I know is that when I play soccer with my son I can sweat at least a kilogram!
“We have already shown that 70-year-old men who have played soccer their entire lives have balance and muscular function that is markedly better than those of their peers, and just as good as 30-year-olds who are not physically active.”Why recreational soccer is good for you – whatever your age
Social Skills and Satisfaction Development
When we homeschool during the regular part of the year, we do the majority of lessons in our home classroom. Doing seatwork is a necessary part of education in most households. But we also have some lessons that we do with others in the park and other outside classrooms for social time, not in our home.
But in our family soccer practice is a daily routine. His soccer practice is from 4 to 5:30 p.m. every day. During this time he gets to engage with his fellow teammates who are essentially his first and second-grade classmates. He looks forward to these daily social interactions and he likes hanging out with his friends.
Of course, some days he feels a little tired but we always see him coming out of the school gates with a smile. Playing soccer in our homeschool PE program is also a way for us to develop a sense of satisfaction in him because our son enjoys playing sports. It’s something he looks forward to and he seems proud to explain it if you ask him.
The Discipline Of Soccer And Team Sports
Homeschool PE and soccer is also an excellent way to develop discipline in your child. The sense of responsibility that they develop through team sports is a great asset for any homeschooler. You could certainly develop discipline just through seat word for math and language arts. But to have an additional way to develop discipline in a fun way we think is through soccer.
Four of the key competencies that researchers found to be important for success in soccer are discipline, resilience, commitment, and social support. These competencies are developed daily and we notice it in our son.
In our household, we notice our son developing discipline because he needs to wake up on time and prepare all his soccer gear every morning without fail. He’s had to do this during the summer when he is in the soccer camp from 8:30 to 5:30 from Monday through Friday.
In the past, he would wake up whenever he felt like it because there was no real purpose for him to wake up except to do our homeschooling lessons. So I think he felt less responsible to wake up by himself. But through soccer, he feels the purpose and is more responsive to preparing and we feel this is great overall.
We have also noticed his sense of resilience has developed over time. He’s able to recover from difficulties that we used to think were very simple challenges in daily life. He also has more patience and there’s less grumbling and complaining. And we attribute this to soccer to develop his mental toughness.
Another effect that we can see from our son playing soccer is the social support and level of confidence he gets from the team. Teammates as well as the coach are a source of social support that help build up his confidence. Playing as a team and through the daily coaching helps to build his confidence which we notice adds to his character. That’s something, we didn’t notice as strongly as before.
Being on a Team, Higher Executive Functions
Improving executive functions in children is something new to us! But it is essentially being able to demonstrate self-control and aids in how you learn, interact and manage your emotions. A really good description of this is in this article all about executive functions in children.
Did you know playing soccer builds this executive functioning? We didn’t sign our son up to play soccer specifically for that, but it’s great to know now. After we became aware of this I do notice that he handles himself very well around older and younger kids. In the past, he was wilder and less concerned with the children that he played with. Now he is very mature and well-behaved, usually!
“Results demonstrate that children participating in team sports show superior executive function compared to children participating in self-paced sports and non-athletes. Importantly, children participating in self-paced sports do not outperform non-athletes when it comes to executive function.”
Children Involved in Team Sports Show Superior Executive Function Compared to Their Peers Involved in Self-Paced Sports
Family Involvement: A Fine Balance
You might have been to a youth sports game and heard the shouting of praises or highly critical parents in the bleachers. At times, parents can get overemotional in the children’s games. But the research shows that family involvement and support are a necessary part of success in any team sport.
We came across an article that supported what we thought was common sense. Don’t give your children too much pressure! We would all love for our children to be the best and score all the goals, but now after one season we realize, it’s going to take hard work and many years to develop these skills.
“parent involvement in sport educational process, suggesting that excessive parental involvement may be perceived as a source of pressure among young athletes. In addition, children seem to prefer parental participation characterized by praise and understanding.”
But we think homeschool PE and soccer offer the best opportunities to develop your child’s mind, character, and health as well as your skills to support them! Soccer parents need to learn some skills as well. We learn how to be offering praise, guidance, and support positively. We thought it was common sense, but it seems like it’s not!
“In practice, the results suggest that parents should display praise and understanding behaviors, which were the main contributor to players’ development of life skills within soccer.”
Life skills development and enjoyment in youth soccer: The importance of parental behaviors
Overall soccer is a great team sport that’s safe and a good way for parents, friends, and family to go out and enjoy their children performing, having fun, and exercising all at the same time. If the father is not involved much in homeschooling and lessons, then soccer may be a super way to get the dad involved in the homeschool curriculum.
Is Soccer the Only Good Homeschool PE Sport?
We think soccer is the best homeschool PE sport that can cover all the bases. It will develop your child physically, and mentally and provides much-needed social time with other athletes and families. But other team sports may be a viable option if soccer is not your choice or available in your city.
SE or Sports Education overall is a recommended way to provide variety and depth to your child’s homeschool routine. Basketball, baseball, track, and other team sports are good opportunities as well. And individual sports for homeschool PE may be a good second choice. Actually, as a child, I mainly played tennis from middle school to college and was always on the school team for much of the time.
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