In a long-running partnership between the university and local community, University of Wisconsin-Platteville health and human performance majors are teaming up with members of the homeschool community through the UW-Platteville Physical Education Homeschool Program. This is a mutually-beneficial opportunity for children to learn about physical activity, personal health and well-being while also teaching future educators how to write and execute lessons for various skill levels and age groups.
The UW-Platteville Physical Education Homeschool Program is a free class that has been running for about 10 years on campus. The program began when a family contacted the university about physical activity opportunities for homeschooled children within the community. Assistant Professor of health and human performance Tim Swenson was one of the leading professors to start this program with about six families.
Since coming to UW-Platteville six years ago, Lecturer of health and human performance Susanna Swenson has led and developed the class with up to 60 children in attendance during a semester. This semester, there are about 40 children signed up for the program, and their ages range from 2 to 11 years old.
“It all started with a parent contacting us looking for a mutual and beneficial experience for their children and our students. They wanted to find a way to engage their children in physical activity while creating a space for our students to learn as well,” Susanna Swenson said.
Susanna Swenson continues to grow and expand the program today, infusing the activities with the methods courses for health and human performance majors, including Elementary Physical Education Methods and Middle-secondary Methods. If these courses are not running during a given semester, the Health and Human Performance Department independently runs the Physical Education Homeschool Program.
UW-Platteville students receive the curriculum from Susanna Swenson and then are tasked to write and execute the lessons on their own. With the wide age range of those they are teaching, the university students are able to learn how to instruct various skill levels while managing a large group.
“Our students are learning management and professionalism – everything that is entailed in teaching,” Susanna Swenson said.
The children take 10 classes on physical education, usually once a week during the fall and spring semesters. They are split into two age groups – kindergarten through second grade and third through fifth grade – and this helps to create activities that will be appropriate for the age group and skill levels.
The students aim to introduce and teach the children team-based activities that can be continued in the backyard with the rest of their family.
“We take the physical education curriculum that we teach our students and apply them every two weeks for the lessons. The younger ages will focus on developing locomotor and non-locomotor skills while the older children will focus on individualized sport activities,” Susanna Swenson said.
This semester, the program has added a birth through 2-year-old section that focuses on motor learning skills. The instructors help teach the children how to skip, throw and catch. Susanna Swenson said that this program has helped teach the UW-Platteville students how to grow, learn and progress with their students as they learn to hone in on basic motor skills.
In the future, Susanna Swenson hopes to add more activities on social wellness to help grow the social confidence of the children attending.