Teaching Physical Education to Homeschooled Students: Opportunities for Student Teaching

Article excerpt

Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) programs provide early clinical teaching experiences to preservice teachers so that they can learn how schools function and can apply pedagogical strategies in realistic settings. This allows for preservice teachers to have a smoother transition into student teaching and then into the workplace (Curtner-Smith, 1996; Dodds, 1985, 1989; Everhart & Turner, 1996; Placek & Silverman, 1983). In clinical teaching experiences, peers have been used as students, as well as students in public and private schools, but little has been published concerning the role of homeschooled students in clinical teaching opportunities for preservice physical education teachers.

Generally, homeschooling is defined as any short- or long-term situation in which students are schooled in various subject matter content at home by parents, relatives, friends, or perceived experts (Lines, 1995). This article focuses on long-term schooling which parents choose instead of public or private school education. Although parents used to choose homeschooling because of religious convictions, the choice is now more often made because of parents' perceptions of public schools as more dangerous than before and as providing a less-than-adequate education (Hawkins, 1996).

Various methods of homeschooling exist, ranging from parent-led to student-led activities. While some students follow a set curriculum, the parents of other students select content as educational needs begin to appear more appropriate. Often, the supervisory parents allow their children to assume responsibility for choosing and carrying out projects as the children mature. Legally, homeschooling appears acceptable; states interpret compulsory school attendance to include attendance at a school located at home. The United States Supreme Court has generally upheld the right of parents to direct the education of their children (Wisconsin v. Yoder, 1992). Certification of teachers is required only in Michigan, and even that is under legal attack. State regulations vary as to the degree of materials filed with the state or local educational agencies concerning curricula. In addition, there is at least one state-level association for homeschooling in every state. In some states a dozen or more regional associations exist. Although traditional educational agencies like the National Education Association (NEA) oppose the practice of homeschooling, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) supports parents' rights to educate their children at home. The American public responded in a recent Gallup poll that although many people did not necessarily approve of the practice for their own children, they generally approved of the parents' rights to homeschool their children (Lines, 1995).

How Education of Homeschooled Children Compares

Research has not been able to determine performance comparisons between homeschoolers and students in public or private classrooms because of the difficulty in controlling variables. Some data are available, though, which indicate that homeschoolers' test scores are above average. Keeping in mind the questionable nature of the data, the patterns thus far resemble those of privately schooled children. As far as social and psychological development, research is inconclusive on whether homeschoolers' social development is influenced by limited interaction with same-aged peers. Limited testing suggests that participating homeschoolers in such research endeavors have tested above average on social and psychological development (Lines, 1995).

At any rate, this schooling option has grown by 30 percent since 1991 (Hawkins, 1996) and the United States Department of Education estimates that approximately 500,000 school-aged children learn outside the public or private school curriculum (Hawkins, 1996; Lines, 1995). However, estimates will continue to be difficult to obtain until a well-designed household survey is developed. …