Monday, September 24, 2018

How I Started a PE Group {and you can too!}

Starting a PE Group

It takes a special kind of ability to determine and figure out how to fill a need. Some people have this capability and some are stronger in other areas.  I seem to follow a pattern of seeing a need and filling it when children are involved.  I do believe there are many needs out there and each person is drawn to the ones that speak to their personal strengths. 
It's actually kind of funny to think of myself starting up a PE group. I grew up with a mom who was big into physical fitness (picture the 90's workout outfits...yeah) and nutrition. It just wasn't my niche, then...or now. Of course I played sports, I danced, and I did Tae-kwon-do, but I just wasn't built for athletics. Today, I personally prefer a dance class over a gym membership, fried foods over salads, and reading a book over running. Trust me when I say..YOU DO NOT NEED TO LOVE PE to be motivated to help out a group of kids. 
I noticed right away when I joined our local homeschool group that there wasn't much to offer in terms of PE.  I know a lot of parents count martial arts, dance, gymnastics, etc as their PE, but most of our kids were already doing those and still wanted to get together to play a game! 
I began scouting out resources. It was fairly easy for me to since I was trying to use the military base facilities around us.  The gym boasted a tennis court, several fields, indoor basketball court, racquetball court, and a swimming pool.  We also have easy access to parks, and outdoor courts.  I'm sure it'll be pretty easy for you too! The first step was reaching out to the leadership and finding out what their rules and regulations were for children using their facilities.  Did we need to reserve spaces, did we need to bring our own equipment and so on.  Because the use of facilities were free for our group, we didn't need to worry about costs. *See below for updates on that. Our first few PE practices started out in the stand alone racquetball court because there weren't a lot of people around and I wanted to see how this worked. 

For ideas and references, I chose to purchase a few books. 

I also highly recommend post it sticky tabs! ( I even color coded the activities by age groups!)
This is a great book! Check out the other recommended books from the link!

We had about 12-15 children sign up right away and I knew that this needed to be organized somewhat, so I grouped them into age categories and would sometimes break them up for different activities. Another parent volunteer would coach one group while I coached another. We tried out a lot of games, sports, and classes to find out what our kids liked the most. I tried to resemble a typical elementary or middle school PE plan by alternating those activities so our sweet homeschool kiddos could try out different things!  Some of the things we did included Volleyball, Basketball, Tennis, Yoga, Tumbling, Indoor Soccer, Regular Soccer, Swim, Indoor Hockey, Relay Races, Scooter Races, and Live Hungry Hungry Hippos (a favorite!)! 

We did hit a snag when the gym manager preferred we didn't show up to use the basketball court because it interfered with adults using it, so he helped us set up the use of the nearby Youth Center gym. This had been tried in the past, but sometimes it takes a need to get leadership to compromise. ;)  Soon we were only using the gym for the pool, and moved over to the YC for our games. It worked well since they had a lot of equipment we could use and a full gym to ourselves (the public school kids weren't there during our PE time). 
At the end of the year, we celebrated with some super fun PE certificates I found off Teachers Pay Teachers and awarded the children with their own colorful certificate!
This year, our group has grown! I had gained help (more coaches), and asked a simple $5 registration fee. Every group has it's growing pains and we realized we needed a few other things like mesh jerseys, swim practice items, and relay sets. I also feel asking for a registration fee gives parents a sense of responsibility of showing up. When you offer a free service, there will always be those that don't respect your time and efforts. <---Real life. On occasion I found myself teaching my own children and it just wasn't as fun. I also added in waivers this year to make sure parents knew who the coaches were, our qualifications and if their children had any special circumstances we needed to know about. 
As we flow into this new school year, our PE group is changing and growing.  If you provide something to a group, soon you realize there really was a need for it and your efforts are worthwhile.  But, at the end of the day, you are doing it out of a passion for children. A few of my closest friends have reminded me that though I may put a lot of effort into something, it isn't truly my responsibility to teach other people's children, and I am just doing my best to make things fun for my children and their friends. 

My suggestions for starting your own PE group are simply this:
1. Know your community and people
2. Locate spaces or facilities and keep a low cost in mind
3. Plan your activities and use secondhand stores for equipment you may need to provide
4. Reserve spaces, plan it out on a calendar.
5. Remind 101 is a great app for sending parents a quick update!
6. Create a welcome letter explaining your program and what it is about.
7. Protect yourself. Waivers are necessary in most places and give you an insight to your players.
8. Sign Up the kids
9. Add volunteers. Ask the parents for other equipment if you need it.
10. Get started!

You can always boost your PE program by adding in a health and nutrition segment, hosting guest coaches, or getting yourself certified if it's something you love!
Children need physical activity, we all know this. Our little PE group may not look like a fabulous parkour class, but it is enough for our kids to stay active and learn!

~~Thoughts on this post?? Please let me know what you think or share your ideas too!~~

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