Sunday, May 2, 2010

Do we really have time not to?

As my kids have gotten older and their scholastic workloads have gotten heavier, it has gotten increasingly difficult to fit into their homeschool days all the things I want them to be able to do. I have long said that overworking our students is a notorious problem of us homeschoolers, who don't have the built-in parameters and time limits of the typical public or private school day.

Even if you get special permission from the school for your child to skip lunch ("Now that's a healthy practice for efficient learning," she says sarcastically), high school students these days typically can only fit in between five and six courses per year, no matter how full they stuff their schedules. Once you've covered the "requisite four" of English/language arts, math, science, and history/social studies, this leaves only 1-2 spots for electives. All electives.

The foreign language required for 2-3 years to be able to graduate, and recommended for 4-5 years for college-bound students, usually takes spot five. This typically leaves one more spot, if you're not willing to stop eating lunch in order to take more classes.

One more spot. One.

Band? Art? Drama? Chorus? Home economics or "shop" (insert whatever PC terms they're using in any given year for these decidedly non-PC, old-school names)? How about the less traditional, specialized electives like marketing? fashion design? The specialized academies like the School for the Arts? legal academy? math and science academy? international baccalaureate programs? AP coursework? Dual-enrollment?

It is enough to make your head spin. And there aren't enough hours in the public school day to fit in all the things you might want to study. (As I said earlier, we homeschoolers have to make sure we don't overload our students, who have more scholastic time on their hands during our time-efficient days and who have no built-in parameters as to the number of courses they may take in a given year! But that is a subject for another post.)

This post is about the not-so-obvious omission from the list... so neglected these days by most high school students as to be completely void from most teens' scholastic days... Did you even notice its absence? PE. Physical education. Getting outside. "Working out."

These things are known to be crucial to our health, both physically and emotionally. They strengthen our bodies and our minds. They help us burn stress. They help us think better.

And yet they've been entirely eliminated from most high school students' days. They are no longer "required" subjects, and as such are not taken. Who has time with all those other things scrambling for the spot?

I just read an interesting article that has me thankful that my kids are still overloaded with PE in their days. Their grandfather, a real workout buff even in his sixties, faithfully comes over three times a week and works them out, hard, for about an hour. Recently I've pledged to join them. Why? Because as much as I've thought I need the time that they're occupied elsewhere for my teaching and housekeeping duties, I need the physical activity more. Just like they do, I need to burn some calories and stress and get moving in order to be more productive and fruitful throughout the rest of my day.

The next question raised by this article is whether we need to move it earlier in our day...


Dianne said...

As a high schooler, I skipped lunch my freshman year, but my Spanish teacher let me eat in her class. I also took band all 4 years, and was in the marching band, too. I took 4 years of Spanish (3 of them in high school), a semester of photography and a semester of keyboarding. I was ahead in math, so my junior year I took 2 sciences which meant I took 5 classes, total. I skipped 2 years of world history in favor of 1 year of world geography (which was much more fun, in my opinion!). My junior year, we switched to block scheduling, which meant that with 7 classes, I only had a lunch/study block every-other-day. Again, I had a teacher who let me eat in his class. So as a public-school goer, there were definitely choices to be made, but I'm thankful I did what I did. It definitely took hard work, which I understand not everyone is able or willing to do, but it worked for me! And it was great prep for college!

Laurie said...

Yes, but was there any PE in there? That was my only point... that with all the other things scrambling for our studetns' limited time (no matter where the schooling takes place), attention to the physical body through exercise is what is usually left out! I'm just wondering if this is the best choice, in the long run...

Laurie said...

Check this out: