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How Does Sport Fit into Classical Education?


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I can't remember reading anything in the WTM about how exercise and sports fit into the philosophy of classical education.

 

We don't home school, and my dd isn't attending big school until next year. I know some parents who spend their weekends driving their ds or dd to various sporting activities. However we don't want the extra burden and costs, we just enjoy the time we spend with her. My 4yo dd goes to ballet classes, once a week - which I think is a good "all round" sport for developing her motor skills and general fitness - and she seems pretty happy with it. We've been doing this for over a year now, and we're thinking of taking up swimming now that spring has come around, just for a bit of variety.

 

I would appreciate to know what role you think physical education has in a a childs development and in classical education in general.

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I'm not basing my opinion on any classical theory, but I believe that physical activity is important for learning. Research is showing that the more we move, the more active our brains become. Blood flow improved learning. I am also all for balance. How that balance is achieved will look different in each family. I do know that one of the beauties of homeschooling is that it can leave more time to pursue interests. For some, those interests may include organized sports. My boys do karate year round - 3 - 4 days a week (one is a jr. black belt preparing for his sr. test, the other is a jr. brown belt) They are very committed. We did have them try some team sports such as soccer and baseball, but when those sports became more intense, it was a drain on the family and they chose to continue with Karate and drop those other sports. ETA: Also, intense exercise is a real benefit to adolescents in helping them deal with their hormones! I can't think what our household would be like if my kids did not have a physical outlet.

 

I have a homeschooling friend that has two boys who are as different as night and day. The older boy is a bit more introverted, needing lots of alone time. The younger needs much more social and physical activity. If he does not get it, he is a royal pain to be around. While the mom would love to stay home and knit, she ends up driving this child to more activities because she has recognized that he needs them. Organized sports has been a real benefit to them.

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I think its role is about the same as getting a good night's rest and eating balanced meals. It is something necessary to maintain the mind in order to be educated, but it can take many forms. Just as I wish that the public schools didn't have a monopoly on sports in most areas, I don't want my homeschool books to go into details about physical activities any more than I want them to give dietary guidelines.

 

That said, we have ds wrestling and running, because we think of them as being classic sports for young men. (He also plays soccer and baseball, so I guess we are covering all of the bases: classic, international, American. :D)

 

All of our dc have a daily exercise routine from dh that is part of their responsibilites, just like brushing their teeth and eating lunch.

 

Of course, I usually list our physical activities when I list our curriculum, but that's just because if you don't, someone will ask why your dc aren't getting any exercise. :D

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This is a completely unfounded rebeccaism so feel free to discount it utterly!

 

I think the most important sports are lifetime sports. They are sports and activities that, as other posters have mentioned, are, by their very nature, wholesome and contribute to both sound mind and body. In addition, they are sports that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. I will just not argue against gymnastics, tumbling, or cheering as sports, if all of them are sports:glare:, but I just can't imagine my daughter, when she's 60, calling up a friend, "Hey, Elizabeth, want to get together to tumble and cheer this weekend? You bring the Bengay!" Honestly. I don't want to disparage these activities but I don't see them being activities to be enjoyed for a lifetime. Tennis, golf, biking, running/walking . . . stuff like that are sports that, to my mind, can be enjoyed (almost) as well at 8, 18, and 80.

 

Now feel free to ignore all that b/c at the moment, my daughter and I both feel that just about THE best physical activity is tree-climbing. If only it were an olympic sport! Yet, you don't exactly see me getting together with my friends to climb trees.

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I would appreciate to know what role you think physical education has in a a childs development and in classical education in general.

 

For our family (as far as organized exercise goes) we found a nice balance with ice skating and fencing. When I watch them ice skate I see that they're socializing and exercising (the class is free skating, not competitive), which is good because I hope they spend the rest of their lives socializing through physical activities. Things like tennis, ski trips.. things like that.

 

Fencing is like physical chess. You have to use logic and strategy.

 

My kids are physical all day long, play in general is good for all around development. I think play whether it's organized or not teaches things just as important as the classroom. Self discipline, respect, communication, good sportsmanship... etc

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I think sports fits into a classical education when thinking back to the Romans and Greeks where learning how to fight, ride horses and other physical activities were just as important to them as their studies. Healthy minds and healthy bodies equal a fit man (of course it was only men/boys) and fit men equal good citizens.

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