Record: David A. Wachob, “Starting a University-based Physical Educational Program for Homeschooled Children.” Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 86, No. 3 (2016), 34-41. [Abstract]

Summary: Wachob is an assistant professor of health and physical education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania who started a physical education program for homeschooled students at his university.

Wachob approached the project from his perspective as director of the teacher education program for future physical education teachers. Meaning, he began the classes for homeschooled students as a way for his preservice teachers to gain additional teaching experience under the guidance of university faculty before their more formal student teaching placements.

Based upon his experience, Wachob offers several recommendations for universities looking to begin a homeschool program.  They should consider homeschoolers’ limited income and the schedules of local homeschool co-ops. Coordinators should include activities for the entire family (including non-school-age children) and be mindful of the local homeschooling community’s educational and religious beliefs.

The homeschool physical education program (HPEP) at Indiana University of Pennsylvania serves 120 local homeschooled children during the fall and spring semesters. The HPEP offers programming for pre-K children, K-12 students, and parents of enrolled children. It began in 2012, and leaders from local homeschool co-ops were involved in the planning. The program runs for one 2 hour session each week. During the session, students are divided by grade-level and have a 45 minute session in the gym and a 45 minute session in the pool. The cost of the program is 20$ per child (only 10$ for the pre-K program) with a maximum of 50$ per family. The program runs for 7 weeks.

The physical education lessons are taught by students enrolled in several of the physical education methods courses, whereas the swimming lessons are taught by students in a water-safety course. Based on the level of methods course in which the preservice teacher is enrolled, they have different responsibilities for planning the lessons. The pre-K students do not swim and instead are taught a lesson involving skills such as spatial awareness. During the program, the homeschooling parents have personal training and group fitness classes run by exercise science students looking to gain experience at their availability as well as free access to the department’s fitness center. The parents also help the program to run smoothly by assisting with transitions and behavior.

Some benefits of a program like this (besides the opportunities for the university students) include an early outreach that may influence the children’s college decision in the future, and a generation of additional income for the department that can fund professional development. Two limitations of the homeschool program is that it is time-intensive for the teaching-methods courses and that it does not authentically mirror the experience of teaching in a public school.

Appraisal: This was certainly a very interesting concept! I can imagine that university art and music programs would find similar success by offering courses for homeschooling students at a reasonable cost that simultaneously provide experience for preservice teachers. It fits well into the trend of programs like the Family School described in Allahyari (2012) that allow homeschoolers to move in and out of schools and institutions depending on their needs. Wachob’s detailed description of the logistics and experiences of this program could easily become a model to be followed by other universities.

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