Win-Win Physical Education

by Cessna Catherine Winslow

Cedarville, Ohio—Each Spring Semester a group of students get together in Cedarville University`s Callan Athletic Center. These are not your typical university students — they`re younger and much smaller. The students are 4-12 years of age and are on campus to take physical education courses two days a week. They are homeschooled children, and they are providing a service to CU students. The homeschoolers` physical education training is part of the "Physical Education in the Elementary School" course, commonly called "Homeschool PE." It is a junior-level, required course for all multi-age physical education majors and is the creation of Assistant Professor of Exercise and Sport Science Teresa Clark. "When I arrived on campus, the students in the class took turns teaching each other elementary physical education lesson plans," Clark explained. "This format was not equipping our future physical educators to the level that I wanted them to experience. I wanted this experience to be with children." So about six years ago, Clark communicated her desires to homeschooled families and sought to see if they would be interested in bringing their children to the physical education training program. The response was greater than she expected, and the class has been offered ever since. "The program has been a win/win situation," Clark summarized. "The Cedarville students gain a valuable teaching experience, equipping them for their future student teaching experience, and the homeschooled children are able to have physical education training experience with other children their age. The teacher wins and the student wins." JoAnn Davis of Xenia agrees with Clark`s assessment of the program. Her husband, Brent, is the assistant men`s soccer coach at Cedarville University. The Davises have four children and have been participating in the program for five years. A CU alum, Davis said, "I appreciate the homeschool physical education program: my children are being exposed to what it`s like to be in a classroom-type setting; they get a good workout, make friends, and have fun; and the CU students are exposed to running a physical education class." The Davises` 11-year-old daughter, Caitlin, says she looks forward to participating in the program and admits that her favorite part is playing soccer. "I like the homeschool PE program because I get to be with other homeschoolers, have fun, and get out of school for an hour and a half," she remarked. "I also like learning new sports and other things." This is the third year that Leah Terrell of South Charleston has had her children participate. A mother of four, Leah is homeschooling her six-year-old twins and says the program has been a real blessing. "It is wonderful to be able to bring our girls to such a nice facility where they can participate in structured, age-appropriate activities," she shared. "The twins really look forward to it and enjoy it." The University students involved in the "Physical Education in Elementary School" class meet five days a week. For the first 10 weeks of the semester they learn about the many facets of teaching physical education (class organization, class management, lesson plan format, assessment, etc.) and how to critique teaching styles. During the last six weeks of the semester, each student makes a lesson plan which Clark evaluates for age appropriateness and fitness level. "It is a requirement that every lesson includes fitness training as well as a motor skill focus," Clark explained. The student then teaches the approved lesson plan to the homeschooled children who come two days a week. When the children arrive, Clark opens with a pep talk and then the children are divided into age groups. "Every week a different part of the physical education curriculum is addressed," Clark explained. "Each week the Cedarville students rotate and teach a different age level so they gain experience with all the ages. This year a standard fitness testing will be part of the curriculum for 10-12-year-olds," she added. At the end of the term, each child is awarded a certificate for his or her successful completion of the course. Clark says the success of the program has ensured its continuance, as it is not only popular with the CU students, but with the families as well. This year`s program will get underway March 22 and go through April 28. Seventy-five homeschooled children are expected to participate. Members of the media seeking further information should contact the University public relations office at 937-766-7807. -30-