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If there is one thing I have learned being a homeschool parent, it is that that teaching a physical education often takes the back burner. With younger children, this wasn’t much of a worry. After all, younger kids spend their free time running around; which provides them with an adequate amount of movement and exercise. But what about with older children? It is no surprise that the physical activity of preteens & teenagers slows down. Not only does their workload in school increase, leaving them with less free time, but their interest in things like tag and climbing trees decreases. Since physical activity is so important for lifelong health, it is imperative that we educators Bring More Physical Education & Activity Into Homeschool & Your Family.
Why mention family?
Family life is, too often, becoming more separate. As kids get older their interests change and they tend to spend less time with the family. So physical education & activity together can provide the perfect opportunity for some fun family time. Another positive to making physical activity a family event is that children are more likely to really engage in something that they see is important their parent’s lives. “Think: monkey see, monkey do”. Not to mention, this is a great way to get you moving!
In our family, I put off a real physical education for so long that my children were miserable when I began implementing it. I tried my best to make it a daily subject in our lessons but was met with resistance every time. It wasn’t until I focused on my physical activity. That is when my children began taking interest in being productively physically active. 3 out of 4 kids ended up requesting shoes for running, and so running became a family activity.
Physical education is more than just physical activity.
We teach & encourage physical fitness as a beginning to a healthy body and lifestyle. However, there is more to physical education than being physically active. Teaching physical education should include the basics of nutrition & healthy eating. It would even be beneficial to go a bit off of the physical part and discuss mental health & ways to maintain a positive mindset. Since this is a growing issue in young adults, it is an important topic. Instilling these things early on sets up a strong backbone for understanding the importance of living a healthy life & how they can accomplish that throughout a lifetime.
Fun ways to get active together.
Teach the basics:
These type of exercises are the fundamentals in exercise: sit ups, push ups, jumping jacks, etc. They build a foundation for physical fitness that will carry on throughout a lifetime & should be encouraged. These exercises benefit everyone in the family. So including these for 15 minutes a few times a week together, practicing & perfecting them, will be something that carries on with children as they grow.
For younger kids, make it fun. My kids have been enjoying push-ups & planking since they were toddlers. They gained encouragement by “beating” their father during push up competitions. Since their father was in the Army, the kids gained further encouragement by challenging other soldier friends and “winning”. This love for these exercises grew with them.
Create an obstacle course:
These are so unique, customizable, & fun for everyone. They provide the possibility of exercising multiple muscles & strengthening many different body parts. Obstacle courses are perfect for working on running by creating races. When the weather is nice you can include things like mud crawls, water guns, sprinklers, etc. All things to add a little more adventure & excitement to this type of physical education.
Get affiliated with sports:
Sports offer more than just the game. They fine tune things like hand/eye coordination & other motor skills. Even if your family is not a big sports fan, there is fun to be had play catch or kicking a ball around. Doing this as a family may lead to a spark of interest in a child. Since there is a wide variety of sports equipment that can be purchased, the options are unlimited.
Get some hiking in:
Hiking stimulates more than just a few muscles that are exercised when walking or running. Since the terrain varies when you hike the less traveled path, different areas of the body receive more than the usual activity. You can instill lessons of breathing techniques & pacing based on the terrain as well. Aside from the physical body, hiking stimulates the mind and promotes a healthier & happier mental state.
As a homeschool mom, hiking can open the door to many unique educational opportunities when you Let Nature Be The Guide. Making this type of physical education a double win.
Make it seasonal:
Seasonal activities can encourage physical education & activity as well. During the Summer, water guns fights & swimming are optimal choices for activity. Why water guns? Anyone who has had a pump action water gun knows that the arm muscles get a good work out as well as running around. Autumn is a wonderful time to enjoy Fall festivals with potato sack & relay races; which can also be mimicked at home. During the Winter, snow play takes more energy and work than one would think. Climbing that hill for a good sled ride becomes exhausting! Plus higher elevation means that breathing techniques can benefit from being perfected. When the Spring comes around, the weather is perfect for sports, hiking with all of the bright flowers, and many colorful activities.
Since physical education is something that will carry on with a child for a lifetime, it is important that we find ways to make these types of activities fit into our lesson plans. It is suggested to gain some type of physical activity each day. This would mean that creating a combination of activity could benefit any family. To ensure that children are excited and enjoying physical activity, get them involved! Ask what they would enjoy doing and brainstorm as a family to see how you can get the most out of your family’s physical education.