(This post originally appeared as part of my Homeschooling Girls Series in 2011. I thought it was time to repost it.)
When we were first homeschooling, my older daughter Coco and I belonged to a gym. My younger girl, Soleil was a ball of energy that never stopped moving. Working PE into our day was pretty easy.
We ended up quitting the gym to save a little money, not to mention that the environment left a little to be desired. In addition to that, we moved recently and our new backyard isn’t installed yet, so Soleil is cooped up inside more than usual. Suddenly, I had to get more creative with our PE.
And we need PE. Girls need PE for so many reasons. Obviously, we all need physical activity to stay healthy and get our hearts pumping. Getting a good workout in also boosts endorphins, so it helps with moods. (and what mom couldn’t use a little help with that?) Staying active will also increase your daughter’s strength and help with her body image as she grows. I don’t know about you, but on days when I get a great workout, I just feel better and more comfortable with my body in general. I want my girls to feel that way, too!
A PE Flip Book
To avoid getting bored or burned out, I wanted to have a variety of ideas on hand for any given day. Enter my PE flip book.
I used an old, inexpensive flimsy photo album. The kind you get at the dollar store. In each photo slip, I placed an index card with an active activity on it. We go through the book day –by-day and do whatever the next card says.
Some PE activities included in the book
(For each activity, I also included a suggested time, such as 30 or 40 minutes)
Dance Dance revolution
More active Wii Games (great for rainy days)
Soccer at the park
Circuit workout. See more on this below.
Walk around the neighborhood
Go to park and practice gymnastics (we have a small park near our house)
Boot Camp DVD
Coco Picks! They love this card, because then they can pick anything from the book that they want to do.
Go to racquetball courts
Learn and practice a dance scene from a movie. (Have you ever done this? So fun!)
Walk and play at a specific local park (this park is a bit further away and a treat to go to.)
Go to track and do a timed mile.
30 Day Shred DVD. (Yep, my 7 year old does it, too. See below for how she uses weights.)
Go on a hike! (This one is not too often, as it requires more time and planning)
Go on a scooter ride
Timed workout to music. See more below.
Our Timed Workout to Music
On this card, I listed 10 old-school PE activities and 10 strength training activities. The “Teacher” for the day gets to lead, and we do about 30 seconds of a cardio move and then a set of a strength training move. We do the whole list a couple times through. Adding music makes it more fun!
30 seconds for each activity, unless a number of reps is included.
20 reverse crunches
15 Side crunches
20 Leg lifts
20 side leg lifts
Our Circuit Training Workout
This one was inspired by Jillian Michaels!
First, I set up 3 stations.
1. A set of dumbbell weights and maybe a chair.
2. A yoga mat
3. Our treadmill. (If you don’t have a treadmill, bike, or elliptical trainer, then you can do some of the cardio moves listed above or even just jog in place for a minute.)
I have a number of workout books and magazines, so I just pick a few exercises for each station and make a list.
I go through and demonstrate the exercises if needed, and then we begin. We rotate every minute. The person on the treadmill is responsible for keeping track of the time.
We try to do three sets of each circuit, but we’ve yet to reach that goal. The closest we’ve come is three sets of the first three circuits and then one or two sets of the remaining ones.
If you have more or less kids, alter the number of stations and increase or decrease the number of sets you do.
An Example of what this might look like:
Weights: One armed row
Treadmill: Jog for 1 minute.
Then we switch and do this one three times.
After the third time through, we’ll start the next circuit.
Weights: Bicep curl
Treadmill: Jog for one minute. (For the cardio station, we sometimes do jumping jacks or something similar, but we all prefer the treadmill.)
We rotate through this three times, and then move on again.
If you’re worried about my seven year old, don’t. We made her some “weights” with tinker toys. Classic.
My top Ten PE Tips
1. Keep it simple. Making it too complicated will up the chances that you give up altogether or make it miserable for everyone.
2. Keep it fun! No drill sergeant here, unless it’s part of the game. (Bootcamp anyone?)
3. Add Music. Music makes everything better, doesn’t it?
4. Join In. Unless you are physically unable, join in! It’s so much more fun for your kids, sets a great example, and gets you moving, too.
5. Switch it up. Don’t do the same thing, day after day. Besides the fact that it gets boring, and everyone will lose interest, your body will get used to a routine very quickly. Switch it up if you want a better workout!
6. Let your kids lead once in a while. Most kids love being in charge and bossing us moms around!
7. When you’re starting to get really uninspired, buy a new toy. A cool water bottle, yoga mat, or tank top always makes me more excited to get going. It works for kids, too.
8. Leave home once in a while for a longer activity. Breaking out of your routine and doing something special keeps it fresh and fun.
9. Learn sport skills. Even with only three of us at home doing PE, we’ve managed to play soccer, volleyball, and basketball. Of course they’re not complete games, but we can modify the sports and learn new skills while having fun.
10. Encourage competition. Against yourself, that is! We are always trying to improve our own times, do more, go longer, etc. A little healthy competition with yourself is a great motivator.
**These are just ideas I use in my home, I am not a professional. If you could see my thighs, you’d know that. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any fitness program.