Many parents I have met love the idea of home education. Despite their belief in the process, however, they often close the door on the opportunity due to concern that their child won’t be able to fully participate in all that the world of sports has to offer. This year’s award of the Heisman Trophy to homeschooler Tim Tebow has opened the minds of many to the options available for those parents wanting the best of both worlds. Here’s how you can ensure this is a possibility:

Start Young – While it won’t guarantee that they will be destined for a sports career as adults, beginning your toddler or preschooler in the appropriate activity at a tender age will peak their interest in future fitness and active play. Opinion varies on what is “appropriate” for children whose bones and muscles are still developing. Wise choices include dance, tumbling, swimming lessons, bicycling, or just walking with the family.

Use Your Resources – Many communities now offer Homeschool P.E. for the growing groups of homeschoolers in their area. Classes are offered at a discounted rate, and activities include many of the traditional physical education classes taught at public and private schools. Children can enjoy soccer, dodgeball, flag football, field hockey, and basketball at their local YMCA, and families can choose to watch from the sidelines.

Know the Law – Most people are unaware that many states mandate cooperation from the local school districts, regarding athletic programs. Also known as “equal access” legislation, homeschoolers residing in a particular school district can usually participate in all that the school has to offer, including practices, games, facilities, and equipment. Many large districts are finding a growing number of team players are in fact, homeschooled. (Visit this link by the Home School Legal Defense Association for a listing of the law for each state.)

Join Forces – New associations are being formed specifically for those who home educate. The HSAA (Home School Athletic Association), for example, serves Christian homeschoolers in the Dallas/North Texas Area and conducts Varsity and Junior Varsity Tournaments and Championships for basketball, baseball, football, and volleyball. Associations such as these are few and far between, but they are growing. Parents living near a large metro may find just enough interested parents to form their own association for their area.

Get Recruited – College recruiters are looking for talent, not conformity. In fact, many of the top sports schools have recruiters and admissions counselors dedicated to finding the best home-educated prospects. A high-school graduate with exceptional athletic ability many not necessarily have to have a record of amazing team play to be a good recruiting prospect. Some of the traits of a hardworking homeschooler (responsibility, independence, and a solid work ethic), paired with outstanding athletic abilities, can make your student a hot prospect for prime college athletic programs.

Whether you’re training up the next Tim Tebow, or just want your child to have fun while exercising, there is a program or resource right for you. Don’t let tradition or conventional wisdom stop your child from fulfilling their athletic promise.