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Physical Education

In this article we explore ways of helping children to be physically active and show how these naturally meet the PE curriculum.

Physical activity makes us feel good, supports memory and coordination and is essential for mental health. In order to reap the benefits, it is important to enjoy what you do and that is the beauty of homeschooling. You can explore so many ways of being physical to find the things that your child loves and embrace them by making opportunities for your child to do them whenever possible. 

As part of physical education, it is also important that young people know how they feel when they do something physical and the overall benefits it has on their bodies. Below is a chart composing the national curriculum skills taught at primary school with some natural opportunities you’ll come across through home education. We haven’t listed the ones for secondary school as they are fairly similar but click here for the skills to be taught at that age range.

Age phase

National curriculum skills

Natural opportunities

Key stage 1

Age (5-7)

  • master basic movements including running, jumping, throwing and catching, as well as developing balance, agility and co-ordination, and begin to apply these in a range of activities 

Using apparatus in the park

Handstands, cartwheels, balancing on the back of the sofa, jumping on your bed, throwing a ball to the dog or throwing to aim at something

Clubs; aerial gymnastics, gymnastics, parkour/free running, yoga

  • participate in team games, developing simple tactics for attacking and defending 

Football, basketball, hockey, ultimate, tag rugby, netball, dodgeball, frisbee, rounders, hide and seek, capture the flag and similar games

  • perform dances using simple movement patterns. 

Moving/dancing to different kinds of music, creating movement to story and nursery rhymes

Key stage 2 (7-11)

  • use running, jumping, throwing and catching in isolation and in combination 

Cricket, rounders,

Tennis, badminton, squash, table tennis, volleyball, airhockey, racket ball, darts

  • play competitive games, modified where appropriate [for example, badminton, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, netball, rounders and tennis], and apply basic principles suitable for attacking and defending 

Football, basketball, hockey, ultimate, tag rugby, netball, dodgeball, frisbee, hide and seek, capture the flag

Cricket, rounders, tennis, badminton, squash, table tennis, volleyball, airhockey, racket ball

  • develop flexibility, strength, technique, control and balance [for example, through athletics and gymnastics] 


Athletics, gymnastics, any club that involves running

  • perform dances using a range of movement patterns 

Moving to different kinds of music, creating movement to story. Comparing how we want to move to different genres of music.

Clubs that use movement patterns, capoeira, karate, yoga, cheerleading, street dance, rhythmic gymnastics, dressage, fencing, skate boarding, roller skating.

  • take part in outdoor and adventurous activity challenges both individually and within a team

Orienteering, geocaching, wild camping, zip wires, kayaking, rock climbing, rafting, canoeing, archery, bike riding, caving, coasteering, gorge walking, windsurfing, surfing, skiing, paddleboarding, horse riding. Team can mean family!

Compare their performance with previous ones and demonstrate improvement to achieve their personal best

Using video to record them doing things and then evaluate what they have done to be able to improve their performance

Any age within primary 5-11

Keystone 1-2

swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres 

Swimming in different water such as lakes, sea, swimming pools and rivers, build natural stamina and strength through playing


Swim club, surf life saving, kayaking, surfing, sailing

use a range of strokes effectively [for example, front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke] 

perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations.

If you follow a more holistic approach to home education you will still see examples of physical activity happening naturally within the day, but it may look very different. The beautiful thing about this kind of organic learning is that children’s bodies often know what they need and you may see children sporadically moving their bodies, making obstacle courses, having spurts of jumping up and down on the sofa or running non-stop the minute they get out of the car as their body tells them what they need. Physical activity will also come from everyday activities such as walking the dog, walking around the shops, swimming in the sea, jumping on beds, climbing trees, and lifting heavy things. Children may also attend some kind of club where they are physically active.

Some other ideas of motivating children to move:

  • Create an obstacle course that must involve jumping, rolling, stepping stones and crawling
  • Moving towards different sounds
  • Follow the leader
  • Copy me
  • Copy spoken instructions like Simon Says
  • Silly races, zig-zag runs, pushing each other in a pushchair
  • You can make some challenges by saying how long can you hold it, can you beat your last score or time, how many times can you do it within a minute

One of the harder things to achieve while following this route may be gathering an understanding of team games but this doesn’t mean to say it doesn’t happen again, it just looks different. It could come in the form of more family-orientated games of frisbee on the beach or in the park, in a tactical sense, it might come from creating their own rules for games they want to play or creating their own board games. If your child does not like physically playing team games you can explore invasion games by watching YouTube clips and talking about what the players are doing or could do to attack or defend. There is also an element of invasion games within some computer games. 

There are things that you can do to encourage physical activity within the home, especially for children that are less keen on spending time outdoors, consider what you can add to your home that they would enjoy. These days you can buy a huge range of products for the home such as indoor slides, swings, chin-up bars and climbing walls or outdoor swing balls, netball posts and bikes/scooters or roller skates.

Other than children understanding how physical activity makes them feel, another reason for reviewing what physical activity looks like for your child is to help them to write. A child’s physical development is linked to their ability to be able to write. Children need to have strong muscles, good coordination and balance to be able to perform fine motor skills. There are some really fun gross and fine motor skills activities from Morris and Simmons education such as; setting up a tug of war competition, making snowballs out of scrunched-up newspaper and using them to have a snowball fight and playing finger Football with tiny scrunched-up pieces of tissue paper.

There are also loads of great YouTube videos like Cosmic Kids Yoga and Joe Wicks that some children will enjoy. The main thing is to embrace whatever physical activity your children love, make it little and often or as regular as feels right, and wherever possible, model physical activity and its importance in your own life to ensure they can see and understand the value. 


A whole heap of activities that parents can do at home.

AFPE is a website with lots of video clips that show how to teach the skills required of the national curriculum.