DAYTON — As home schooling of students has increased in popularity in recent years, so has the need for home-schooled students to have access to some traditional public school electives.

While there are many curriculum options for home-school parents and teachers, the options for classes such as physical education, art and music are harder to come by.  However, the Tongue River Valley Community Center has made two of those classes available locally for home-schooled students with positive results.

Erin Kilbride, executive director of TRVCC, said the center began offering physical education and art classes to home-schooled students in 2008 and 2010 respectively.

“The parents were a big part of it,” Kilbride explained. “They were the ones who came to me and said ‘what do you think of this idea.’ It obviously fits into the community center’s mission in terms of the programs we provide and I thought it would be great for the kids.”

The class is taught by Kilbride or Program Director Chad Aksamit and varies from week to week.

“We just try to provide them with a structured activity,” Aksamit said. “We play kickball, soccer, basketball, we play football in the gym, dodge ball or tag. We try to keep it fresh so they don’t get bored doing the same things over and over. We usually start with stretches and a few laps to get warmed up and then go with the activity that we have for that day.”

Aksamit said he and Kilbride come up with ideas for the class by talking to other teachers or by doing their own research on activities. They have even participated in the President’s Physical Fitness Test that is given to most public school students every year.

The classes are held each Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. for about an hour and Aksamit said they average eight to 12 students per class.

“Obviously it gets them out and they can get social interaction with kids in the class and the physical aspects of it with the cardio work and weight training. It also helps develop teamwork and leadership skills.”

“I think the parents just appreciate that they have the opportunity to have this type of class,” he continued. “We have pretty much the same families that do it from year to year. The kids have fun. That is the big thing.”

Kilbride said because of the arrangement, the classes end up with students in a variety of age groups, which can sometimes make coming up with activities suitable for all the students difficult.

“It makes it very challenging. But we adapt, we adjust,” she said.  “It is nice that now some of the kids have gotten older who have been in it five or six years and they can help me or Chad run the class.”

In addition to the physical education class, Kilbride said an art class was offered once or twice weekly as well, up until this fall. The program is now currently in need of an instructor. She said once an instructor is hired, the class will be offered again on a regular basis.

Kilbride noted that anyone interested in the classes offered for home-schooled students can contact the TRVCC at 655-9419 for more information.

She said students from anywhere in Sheridan County are welcome to participate, with nonmembers of the center being required to pay the small daily use fee.