Originally published Dec. 9, 2017 in the Pueblo Chieftain.

Whether you called it PE, gym class or phys ed, the class was always a part of the day for kids in public schools.

But how do home-schooled kids get a crack at it?

At Colorado State University-Pueblo, home-schooled kids are moving, learning about fitness, improving their coordination, building strength and enjoying their physical selves in a variety of ways.


A fall semester program at CSU-Pueblo gave home-schooled children the chance to participate in physical education classes. Pueblo Chieftain photo by John Jaques.

A new program at CSU-Pueblo through the Exercise Science Health Promotion and Recreation department is helping home-schooled children ages 3-17 stay fit and, at the same time, the program is providing clinical field experience to teacher education students.

“Somebody mentioned that they were wasting time having students get in a car and go to a school and do field work and sit there. They were only having to do three lessons while they were there and there was a lot of inconsistency and time wasted,” said Karen Marley, CSU-Pueblo instructor.

So Marley decided to start a program at CSU-Pueblo.

“We could save time, help out with a community activity and really help our students,” she said.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays during the fall semester, 12 CSU-Pueblo teacher education students in the Methods of Elementary and Secondary Physical Education class greeted up to 100 children and their parents in Massari Arena.

Some would come from as far as Canon City and Williamsburg for the course. There was a $10 fee to participate, which covered material costs.

The college students had a half-hour of prep work and an hour of teaching and then a half hour of debriefing at the end of the class.

“Our students got hands-on immediately, they got debriefing immediately and they got to know immediate feedback as to what they were doing wrong and what they improved on,” Marley said. “It has worked out fabulously. They have received more in this semester than they would ever get in other field work.”

Each CSU-Pueblo student in the course is working to earn a bachelor’s degree in science and physical education. Marley said seven of the students in the program will be graduating and student teaching in the spring.

“These students will be really good when they get out in the real world,” Marley said.

Students have to write lesson plans based on national standards. Melanie Steves, a junior from Pueblo, said the program is the best thing the school could have incorporated into her teaching experience.

“We’ve taught over 18 lessons in all age groups and we get instant feedback from our instructors,” Steves said. “I have learned more being hands-on teaching with the home-schoolers. I’ve worked with the young kids all the way up to the 17 year olds. I may not have gotten that full experience if it wasn’t for this.”

Kristina Havlat, a grad student from Junction City, Kan., said the children have progressed along with the college students. She said it’s a win-win situation.

“The progression that they have had is tremendous. Some came in here and wouldn’t even talk to anybody. Even with us, they were super shy and would flock to their parents. And now it’s to the point where they even show up early because they are so excited,” Havlat said. “They have learned so many things that they might not have at home. We are learning, too. This opportunity has opened it up for us to learn about classroom management.”

The difference, the two students said, is that they are not only observing a PE teacher, they are running the show.

“I am feeling prepared and confident. I have my lesson plans and I’ve practiced them,” Steves said.

Marley said the course prepares the prospective teachers to maximize student learning, utilize resources and plan, implement and then revise lesson plans. Students are required to complete 30 contact hours at both the elementary and secondary levels.

Hosanna Barton, a home-school mother, said her and other parents love the program.

“They reached out to me and asked if I knew of 10-15 kids that would want to do the program. I said that there was going to be a whole lot more than that. I know the home-school community. There’s hundreds of home-school families in Pueblo,” Barton said. “So here we all are. Everyone has been really happy with this program. I think it benefits the teachers and the kids.”

Amy Gray, another parent, said the program is a great opportunity for everybody.

“The price is right and my daughter really loves it. We do different things, but this program has great equipment. It’s really amazing,” Gray said.

Gray said she likes the one-on-one time between the college students and the home-schoolers.

Marley said she is hoping to offer the program in the spring semester, as well.

Parents can contact Marley at karen.marley@csupueblo.edu or 549-2449 for more information.

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