I don't know about you, but PE is probably the one subject that I have the hardest time squeezing in. I'm not talking just about running outside and playing for recess. I mean thoughtful, sequential development of physical skills in our kids. You know what I mean? First of all, I am not trained in this area. Second, it sometimes seems like a "less important" subject compared to the 3R's (keeping it real here, okay?). And third, it seems like our day is already full enough as it is without squeezing in another subject. However, I also have seen the fruits of those beliefs. While my older son is quite naturally athletic, the rest of us...aren't. Without training and practice, my kids don't come by those skills on their own. I remember how much work it took to teach my daughter how to skip. But it was one of those skills that people assume you know how to do by a certain age. Not only that, these skills help to improve agility, coordination and strength, something we all need.
If you have boys, having a designated time to really exercise and work hard is a great way to burn off energy. I would usually let my kids ride their scooters or trikes around, and that helped, but that was all they were doing. And last of all, physical exercise not only benefits our bodies, they also help our kids excel in other subjects as well. When their bodies are working, blood---and all the oxygen that is in it---circulates all over. This includes the brain, which helps our kids to function better in school. And what parent doesn't want that?
Sounds like something you need? Read on!
Company Information: Family Time Fitness is a company that has designed an award-winning homeschool physical education program that parents can use at home with their children. At this time, there is one 260-lesson program, with another in the works, due out early next year. Each lesson is designed to be completed in 25-45 minutes. These programs can be used in schools of all types, as well as homeschool co-ops.
Product Reviewed: Fitness 4 Homeschool Core 1 program
Price: $57 for the core 1 program alone (which is what I reviewed); $137 for the Platinum program, which includes additional workbooks and a one-year subscription to Home Educating Family.
Age Range: Grade schoolers, kindergarten and up (though my preschooler was interested in joining in too!). There is an additional strength training course for kids 12 and up available separately if you desire something for your older children.
Parental Preparation: There is a little more preparation required for this product than the others, but a little investment in time will help you to get the most out of it.
After downloading the program (PDF files), I spent about 15 minutes reading the introductory section, which includes tips on safety, necessary equipment, and how to use the program. I would recommend taking the time to read this and not skip it as it contained some important information.
Next, I had to buy some equipment I didn't have, though it is possible to make substitutions. For some reason, however, I didn't have a hula hoop, which is not something I had an alternative for. But most of it were things I had on hand--beanbags, tennis balls, and the like. It is helpful to skim through the first few lessons to make sure you have what you need.
To actually use the program, I then spent about 15 minutes to watch the videos that are included in the ebook. While the instructions were clearly written, it helped a lot to actually see it. Eventually, I just had my kids watch the videos themselves while I checked for positioning. Exercises are repeated so it wasn't like we had to watch a lot of new videos every day. We only watched what we did not know how to do.
The last thing I did was figure out when and how I was going to utilize the program. For us, I like to keep our lessons to about 20-30 minutes max. This was about enough time to do the warmup exercises, the activity or game and the cool down. We saved the outdoor activity for another time in our school day, when we needed another time to move around.
How We Used It: After the initial preparation work, it was very easy to implement. The exercises were easy to follow, yet challenging. My little one wanted to get in on the fun, so I spent most of my time helping him. My older son had no problem. With the hot California days, we opted to do them indoors, but definitely recommend doing them outside (either that, or get up at 6 a.m. when it is coolest. That didn't work. Especially since it is summertime and the kids liked to sleep in.).
We had our share of sore muscles afterwards (myself included). But Matthew really enjoyed it and asked for more the next day. He commented that it really helped him to focus better on the rest of his schoolwork after working up a good sweat. The variety made it interesting--you never know what's going to come up--but there was some repetition so that not everything was new every day.
With our trip to China, we didn't get much done last week, but I do plan to resume this after we return. Matthew will be getting back to his team sports schedule, so my plan is to do modified sessions when he has practice or a game, just to get the blood pumping. After awhile, as I become more comfortable with the activities, I know that I can use individual exercises as a quick 5-minute "wiggle time" for my boys when they need to burn some energy, in addition to the longer sessions of exercise.
What We Liked:
- The organization of the lessons are very clear.
- The variety every day keeps the program interesting.
- The focus on developing large motor skills and skills for team sports.
- It is suitable for the entire family to do together.
- The videos really make this so clear.
What We Didn't Like: Nothing! This is one of those programs that I can tell has been thoroughly researched and planned.
Overall Summary: If PE is one of those subjects that you really struggle with, rest assured---you need not struggle any longer! This program is an excellent one for all your kids and provides a thorough workout each day. If you're tempted like I am to skip physical activities in favor of others or just rely on playing outside for PE, then I encourage you to check this out. The initial outlay may be a little steep, but as these are PDFs for you to keep, I count this an investment that will last a long while. Plus the benefits of good exercise is well worth the time we invest to help our children develop coordination, confidence and strong healthy habits. Check it out!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the Fitness 4 Homeschool Core 1 program at no charge, in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts are my own. If you'd like to read more reviews, click on the banner below!