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PE isn’t a Real Subject… is it?

As homeschooling parents, one of the often overlooked subjects is Physical Education.

But is PE a “real” subject?

Of course it is! It’s also very important for a child’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Learning to stay active as a child will also help a child remain active as an adult.

There are many studies which show regular physical activity helps reduce stress levels and provides for a better night’s sleep. Don’t believe me? Check out these links: Kids Health and Exercise for Children and 10 Benefits of Physical Activity

Physical activity for children doesn’t have to be typical sports like baseball, football, basketball, volleyball, and soccer. There are also activities like:

  • swimming
  • tennis
  • martial arts
  • gymnastics
  • dance
  • fencing
  • horseback riding
  • golf
  • ice skating
  • roller skating
  • laser tag
  • bowling
In addition to being great exercise, martial arts helps with self discipline, respect, and confidence.

In addition to being great exercise, martial arts helps with self discipline, respect, and confidence.

Keep in mind many sports are seasonal, while others are year-round. No matter which activity you and your child choose, make sure they stay active even in the off-season.

In our family we are quite partial to martial arts. I just can’t say enough great things about how much karate has helped our children. Sure they’ve learned self-defense and have greater flexibility and muscle strength, but the most important lessons they’ve learned are discipline, respect, focus, and confidence. My very wiggly, “can’t sit still longer than two minutes” 6 year old became a focused and calm 7 year old after just a few months. I highly recommend martial arts for ALL children, (it’s not just for boys). The benefits are for life!

Can’t afford to pay for special classes for your children?

family fun run

Our daughter, age 5, walking with my husband in a kids fun run downtown.

No worries! Try some of these ideas:

  • Schedule 20 minutes twice a week for your family to walk around the neighborhood.
  • Go for a family bike ride.
  • See who can do the most push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks.
  • Have a hula-hoop contest. See which member of your family can hula the longest.
  • See who can jump rope across the driveway first, or see who jump rope the longest without tripping.
  • Plan a scavenger hunt at the local park or around your neighborhood.
  • Go Geocaching. If you plan a route where there are many geocaches you’ll get plenty of exercise by getting in and out of the car frequently and seeing who can find the geocache first.
  • Enter the whole family in a Family Fun Run or Walk-a-thon. Most of these everyone walks and/or runs at their own pace.
  • Go roller skating on their cheap-skate day/time (often this is only $4 per skater)
  • Take them to a jump house place like Pump-it-Up, House of Bounce, Jumps-a-lot, Kangaroos, etc. on a regular basis.
  • Join your local YMCA. They offer family memberships which include swimming pool and gym access, plus many other benefits. Staying active as a family is well-worth the cost.

The key is to actually get out there and do it. Children watch what we adults do. If we’re sitting on the couch day after day and aren’t interested in going for a 20 minute walk, why should they be interested?

 

Haven’t seen an activity your child would be interested in yet?

iceskating

Ice skating (and roller skating) is great exercise. It also improves balance, coordination, and confidence.

As parents sometimes we just have to give them a little push. Schedule a time for them to go for a walk or bike ride with friends. Offer to take them bowling, roller skating, or to play laser tag with friends. Think laser tag isn’t physical? Ha! You obviously haven’t played it. There’s a lot of fast-walking, ducking behind obstacles, poking your head around corners, crouching down to avoid on-coming fire, etc. Trust me, you’ll be sweating after 1-2 games. We try to go every couple of months and use it for report card rewards as well.

While ice skating isn’t available year round, roller skating is! Both activities will improve balance and coordination. Plus working all those different muscles takes a lot of energy. Invite some friends. Exercise is ALWAYS better with friends. Even for us adults!

Horseback riding helps build core muscles, strengthens leg muscles, improves balance, coordination, and focus.

Horseback riding helps build core muscles, strengthens leg muscles, improves balance, coordination, and focus.

When it comes to getting children active, horseback riding is often overlooked. I think most people consider it a leisure activity, but really it takes a whole lot of muscles to stay balanced and seated properly when walking, trotting, turning, and stopping a horse. It doesn’t matter whether your child is interested in English or western style, both will improve your child’s physical and mental health.

How much exercise should my child get each day?

According to the CDC Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, 60 minutes each day. Think it’s not possible? Don’t worry, it IS possible! It just takes planning it into your family schedule gradually. Start with the above tips, slowly adding in some activities several times a week and go from there. Oh, and if your child begins complaining they’re tired after an activity, that’s okay. It’s GOOD to be tired after exercise. A child who has worked hard exercising will work up an appetite and sleep better.

 

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2016 in My Thoughts on Homeschooling

 

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Overlooked Benefits of Using the Library

The public library has sooo many resources to benefit homeschooling families.

  • phonics blendsEducational DVDs available to rent for FREE (science, history, math, phonics, foreign languages,
    and MUCH more)
  • Music CDs (classical, jazz, rap, country, gospel, etc.)
  • Kids InfoBits – Online resource of reference materials, magazines, newspapers, maps & flags, charts & graphs, images.  (Use password = gulfcoast)
  • Mango – Learn a new language for FREE – up to 14 languages available
  • Inter-Library Loan (ILL) – Looking for a particular book that your branch doesn’t have?  What about a book not available at ANY of the local libraries?  ILL services will try to locate a copy at other libraries across the southeast and have it shipped to the local library of your choice for only $2.  This is very helpful for research and our family has used the ILL services many times.
  • Local History & Genealogy Services
  • Storytime – geared towards children ages 2 – 6yrs.
  • Books on CD with read-along books (perfect for emerging readers)
  • Audio books – Taking a long ride in the car?  Put a favorite book in the cd player.  Everything from Magic Tree House or Beverly Cleary books to Harry Potter or the Hunger Games.
  • Non-fiction books – this may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many parents only check out fiction books for their children.
  • Fiction books – Don’t forget to let your child check out graphic novels.  Sometimes they just need a different format to grab their interest.
  • Computers to use while at the library with Magic Schoolbus and other popular learning games.
populargraphicnovels

Popular Children’s Graphic Novels

I’ve heard some parents say they don’t like to take their children to the library because their children are so loud or difficult to handle.  Let me just point out that if children aren’t taken to places where they need to talk softly and not run indoors then how are they ever going to learn these things?  Avoiding the problem is very rarely the solution.  If you’re a parent of 5 or more children under the age of 7 then I’ll give you some slack, but try to find the time to take the older children while someone babysits the younger ones.

Another reason parents seem to have for not going to the library is they just don’t know which books to check out.  The solution is actually pretty simple.  Go online.  Search for books based on subject.  Select the book you want and put it on hold.  Choose which library you want the book sent to and generally it will arrive within 48hrs.  You can also renew your books online.

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Lastly, PLEASE allow your children to check out the books they want.  Don’t stifle their excitement over going to the library and looking at all those books by then telling them no they can’t check one out.  There is a time and a place to tell your child no, but this isn’t it.  If your young daughter wants an inch thick book because of the cat pictured on the cover let her get it.  If your son chooses a book that you know is too difficult for him to read, let him get it anyway.  Children are smarter than we give them credit for.  They KNOW what they’re capable of reading.  Sometimes they just want to look at the book.  Yes, even if it doesn’t have any pictures other than the front cover.  It’s important for children to love books.  It’s not always about reading them.  Sometimes it’s simply about looking at them, or holding them, or smelling them.  (Yes, I said smelling them.  If you read very often you know books have a smell.)

Try to schedule a trip to your local library at least once a month.  Your children may turn into avid readers because of it and that’s never a bad thing.

 

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Keeping it Real – Changing the Pace and Being Flexible

children on aframeWell another year has come and gone.  Once again I have learned many things along the way.  I’ve learned to not push ahead when we’re having a bad day.  Instead it’s better to change the pace and choose a different activity for a while.  Some ways we do this are to play a board game, put together a jigsaw puzzle, do a simple art project, watch an educational show on DVD or Netflix (National Geographic and the History Channel have some great ones).

Another thing I’ve learned is to be more flexible.  Home education requires quite a bit of flexibility because children bring many surprises to life.  Children get sick, have dentist appointments, eye exams, and those dreaded injuries that require a doctor visit ASAP.  (Earlier this year our 5 year old somehow stepped on a rusty nail that went through her shoe and cut her toe.  We had to squeeze in a trip to the doctor for a tetanus booster into our already planned out day.  She was fine, but better safe than sorry!)

Occasionally YOU, the teacher, will have a headache, lose your voice, or get the flu.  These are the days it’s better to just smile, say a prayer, and lounge on the couch.  The children might enjoy reading books to each other or watching National Geographic on these days.  Our 8 year old will proudly tell anyone about the deadliest creatures in the world from watching “The Deadliest Dozen” many times on Netflix.

You may be wondering how to catch back up after taking time off for a prolonged illness, or too many hectic days where things didn’t go as planned.  Well, first you need to think about what are you trying to “catch back up” to?  Are you trying to keep pace with your local public or private school?  If so why?  Are you trying to finish a specific book or curriculum before the end of the school year?  The beauty of home education is you can set your own schedule and even teach year-round if you want.

color puzzleOne thing to keep in mind is the first couple of chapters of the next book will often review what was learned the previous year.  No matter how long you take for a summer break, keep reading to each other and keep talking to your children about all sorts of topics.  Discussing new vocabulary they come across in a book, places you visit, and situations as they occur are all part of the process of learning.  Children are ALWAYS learning, whether you are actively teaching them or not.  Take advantage of this by giving them materials geared towards their interests.  Take the time to answer their billions of questions or point them towards the resources with the answers.   🙂

 

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Are Homeschooled Children Weird?

Boys ages 6-12 eagerly asking firefighters questions.

Let’s face it… many people think children who are homeschooled are weird.

Have you ever heard a 12yr old have a twenty minute conversation with an adult about Amelia Earhart?  What about an 8yr old who can’t stop talking about the vampire squid in great detail?  Would you consider these children weird, or simply passionate about their interests?

First, let’s think about what weird really means.  Weird: Of a strikingly odd or unusual character; strange, bizarre

Next, a lot of parents who choose to homeschool are weird themselves.  Many of these parents were kids who didn’t quite fit in at school.  Whether academically, peer-wise, or both, these weird parents have made a well-thought-out decision to not inflict “traditional school” on their children.

Lastly, who exactly are we comparing homeschooled children with when we determine if they are weird or not?  The public and private school children who spend 7+ hours a day with peers of their own age, most of which time is spent sitting in a desk?  Well, if that’s the case let’s shed a little light on the social differences of the average homeschooled child.

One Fraser Institute study says children educated at home are happier and more social than those in traditional schools.  The study also says the average home educated child participates in a range of activities with other children outside of the family.  A whopping 98% of homeschooled children are involved in two or more extracurricular activities each week, such as music, art, sports, field trips, etc.  The hours spent exploring and having fun while learning just can’t compare to the hours sitting in a desk.

Friends come in all ages and sizes.

Children of all ages can be friends.

The homeschooled children I’ve been around get along really well with people of all ages, not just children close to their age.  I’ve seen middle schoolers willingly taking care of their toddler-age younger siblings in front of their peers.  I’ve heard a 7yr old and 12 yr old enjoying a lengthy discussion about lego design without any derogatory comments or meanness due to age-difference.  There have also been times when a homeschooled child strikes up a casual conversation with a store employee.  Often the parent has to rescue the employee from the conversation, explaining to the child that the employee has a job to do and can’t stop to chat whenever he/she wants.

If all of these behaviors cause homeschooled children to seem weird, then I guess our children will grow up weird.  If not being weird requires hours of peer pressure to comform to the “norm” then we choose to pass.

Our children meet and make new friends regularly.  Some of the children they play with have special needs.  They may talk a little funny, walk a bit differently, or act-out at times, but I’ve found that most homeschooled children are nice and simply go with it.  Our 8yr old son has a phrase he says sometimes, “That’s just the way he is, but I like playing with him anyway.  He’s really cool!”  If only all children had this outlook on children that looked, or acted a bit different.

-Written by a weird homeschooling mom  😉

 
 

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Online Curriculum Review Coming Soon

Time4Learning has invited me to try their online curriculum for 30 days in exchange for an honest review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so come back and read about my experiences. Visit them for information about lesson plans, homeschool portfolios or writing your own curriculum review.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2012 in Curriculum

 

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Why Do People Underestimate Children?

Parents, teachers and the general public are constantly underestimating the intelligence of children.  Children’s brains are like sponges absorbing information from everywhere and everything.

Here are the 3 main areas where I feel that parents are really letting their children down:

#1  Not Giving Children Enough ResponsibilityHanging on vine

Children as young as 2 years old can be taught to do a simple task around the house 1-2 times a week.  With each birthday that passes increase the responsibility a bit more.  For example, a 2-3 year old could dust with a feather duster or be responsible for using a Swiffer cloth on the kitchen floor.  (Yes, you are welcome to do it again after them, but wait until they are asleep so they don’t SEE you do it and feel as if what they did wasn’t good enough).

Elementary age children can empty the bathroom trash can when they are smaller and then graduate to emptying out all the trash cans.  Save your back and let your child empty the dishwasher for you.  Our 6 year old enjoys his task of unloading the dishwasher.  He puts away what he can reach and stacks the out of reach items on the counter where I can put them away later.

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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in My Thoughts on Homeschooling

 

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My Home – My World Project

Recently I was browsing Pinterest and came across this neat project for children.  It’s a little booklet that starts off with the smallest circle being My Home.  Each page takes things one step further and a bit larger.  The other pages are: My Street, My City, My State, My Country, My Continent, and ending with My World.

This project was a combined effort of both our children and myself.  Our youngest who is only 4 years old placed most of the stickers throughout the book and drew the grass on the My Street page.  Our son who is 6 drew the trees on the first two pages, drew the flag on the My Country page and colored the world.  They both seemed to really enjoy deciding what should go on each page and selecting which stickers to use.

I've edited out our street name for privacy.

What appears as a white spot is a dolphin sticker.

The stickers you can't see are an elephant where Tuscaloosa is and a tiger for where Auburn is.

God Bless the USA

North America

Earth

On the back of each page is a list of 3-5 facts about that page. Some of the pages were easier than others to come up with these facts. For the My State page I listed the state capital, state bird & flower and the state nicknames (Heart of Dixie or Cotton State for Alabama). To the left is the My Street page facts. Overall the project was fun for all of us and I plan to use it as a learning tool in the future. 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in Fun Projects

 

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