At the beginning of the school year, Mallory Stiff had no idea how to ride a skateboard.
But after recently taking a course that included a skateboarding unit at Minnesota State University, she’s not only able to ride to class, but she’s also able to teach one about it as well.
Through MSU’s Homeschool Physical Education Program, Stiff and fellow students studying physical education are able to apply what they’ve learned in a classroom to teach area elementary-aged students who are homeschooled.
Ben Schwamberger, associate professor and coordinator of health and physical education programs at MSU, said that the roughly 6-year-old program benefits both university students and those who are homeschooled.
“It’s a great opportunity for homeschool families to be able to have their kids participate in developmentally appropriate physical education lessons and work with other students for free,” he said. “And my students who are training to become future teachers get the unique opportunity to not only teach lessons to homeschooled students, but also plan and organize content, which is what they’re going to be required to do when they become a full-time teacher.”
The MSU students work in groups of three to create lesson plans.
During the actual class, two of them take turns teaching while one records.
Afterward, all three watch the recording and critique themselves and each other.
“I require students to reflect on how they did and how their peers did because the reflection piece is really where they can learn what they’re doing well and what they might be able to improve,” Schwamberger said.
Stiff said she’s thankful for it.
“We do a lot of self-reflection stuff and I’ve learned a lot from it,” she said. “It’s been a really good experience to be involved in teaching already and just getting more experience in the field, while not actually being in the field.”
During the skateboarding unit, the MSU students worked together for four weeks creating the lesson plans. Schwamberger observed and offered feedback.
Schwamberger taught a skateboarding unit himself last semester, which is where his students — including Stiff — got the idea to teach the homeschooled students how to as well.
All around, the unit was well-received.
Stiff said that, at first, the homeschooled students were nervous to even try it out. But just after the first day, she said they all seemed excited to come back for more lessons.
“Each time that we had class with them, we saw improvement. From the first lesson to the last one, it was crazy to see how much better they were,” she said. “By the end, they were all saying that they would want to keep doing it and were even asking their parents to get their own skateboard. It’s super cool to see something that I’d never done before be implemented at their young age, because it’s definitely something they can carry on for the rest of their lives.”
Eleven-year-old Paisley Ellenburg said she really enjoyed the skateboarding unit and was happy to attend the program for a second time.
“I really liked it because mostly everyone there I knew from the last one,” she said. “I liked that it was a homeschool thing. I met more kids that are homeschooled like me.”
Ellenburg has been homeschooled all her life by her mother, Brittany, who has a degree in early childhood education.
“It’s something that my husband was pretty passionate about,” Brittany said. “But homeschooling can actually be kind of expensive, just because you’re having to pay for every single bit of what they would have gotten in school. So I really appreciate that this program’s free. I feel comfortable dropping her off, and she seems to enjoy it and is learning things from it.”
The program is offered every fall and spring semester, giving MSU students a chance to teach and homeschooled students a chance to get and stay active.