Its no accident that my kids LOVE fitness. I have made it a part of their lives from when they could stand. Whether it was spending time in the exer-saucer or the walker, I always found it important to start using your body in every way possible.
As a P.E. teacher I have seen the kids that struggle their Kindergarten year, all the way up to 8th grade, in Physical Education. It is clear that they may have never picked up a ball or attempted skipping once...EVER.
It breaks my heart. Not because sports are the most important thing it the world...but because teaching your kids to be physically active should be one of the most important things in the world. In my experience, with activity usually comes GAMES. P.E. (at least in my class) has really steered away from all the traditional sports. By that, I mean, we don't just play basketball or volleyball anymore. What we do is play games or activities that are fun while incorporating skills to use forever. And we do a TON of lifetime fitness. Circuit training and basic exercise has taken over. Our kids need to know how to move their own bodies around.
So here are my favorite activities to do with kids:
- Take them Hiking...If it weren't for my friend, Michelle, I don't know if I would have discovered this one so early. I started taking my kids hiking when Tyler was almost 3 years old. They loved every second of it. We have a nice area about 15 miles out of town with a 1 mile loop. We can do it once, twice or however many the kids are up for. Every once in a while I have to throw one of the kiddos on my back to keep a good pace, but that works out well for me too. I get a good leg workout in as well :)
- Hula Hoops...totally a forgotten form of exercise. My kids are 6 and 4, so they don't swing it around their hips much, though they try. We throw them around the driveway, chase them, throw balls through them and try to jump through them. The ideas and creativity you will see them attempt is mind blowing. We literally take the hoops out to the driveway at least 3 days a week.
- Hopscotch..This is a wonderful way to work on some of the basics...skipping and hopping. You have no idea how many kids can't skip or hop by third grade!!!
- Workout video...Turn on a video and ask the kids to join you. My kids BEG me to do videos. Some of my favorites are Insanity, Turbofire and Jillian Michales 30 Day Shred. Ella and Tyler even have their own set of 2 and 3lb weights...yep :)
- Deck of Cards workout...I saw this idea on Biggest Loser. It was one of the "Last Chance Workouts." This is a great way to incorporate counting too. You take a deck of cards. Assign each suit an exercise. For example...Diamonds would represent squats. Hearts could be push ups, etc. Now the number or face card represents how many of each exercise you do. You then go through the deck of cards. A 9 of hearts would be 9 push ups. The kids LOVE this. Especially if you let them pick the exercises!!
- Jump Rope...another lost art. My kids work on the jump rope all the time. Again, they are young, so they fail...a lot. There is nothing wrong with that. They will get better. You can also get a LONG rope and turn it for them.
- PLAY CATCH!!! It doesn't have to be with a ball and glove. It can be with a LARGE ball, small ball, soft, hard. It doesn't matter. But I can guarantee your kids will be expected, from Kindergarten through their senior year of high school, to throw and catch a ball. It may be in game form, but it will happen. Prepare them for success, please!!
- Go Outside...Give them room to run. The saddest thing as a P.E. teacher is to see the lack in stamina these kids have. I remember running the mile in middle school and it was an absolute breeze. I can tell you from experience that this is not because my parents took us out to run the mile at a young age. :) It is because we just played, and we were active. Kids today just sit on their butts. SO SAD!! (If you look really close you can see that a few of us have beers in our hands while we play with the kids. Don't be jealous...that's how the Viefhaus family rolls)
- Yoga...This is an excellent way to begin the adventures of supporting and moving your own body weight. Sounds simple right?? Well you would be surprised to see how many kids can barely hold their own weight up in a push up position by middle school. Yoga is a fantastic way to hold your body in positions that strengthen your muscles. It is often overlooked as an effective exercise. So wrong. Get on the internet and look up some moves that you can do with your kids. They will love it and so will your toned thighs.
- Frisbee...So fun. Another lost form of play. Frisbee is an "old school" game that is coming back HUGE in Physical Education. As we steer away from sports we incorporate throwing and catching in games like Ultimate Frisbee. They also make soft frisbees that are great for younger kids. Go get one. Yesterday :)
- Take them golfing...Lifelong sports and activities are key in introducing physical activity into your child's life. Golf is a game you can do FOREVER. It takes a lot of practice in order to get really good, but the point is to teach them things they can do long after their days of forced physical activity (aka P.E.) are over. Ha ha!
- Jump on the Trampoline WITH them...My kids love to get bounced like crazy by me. It's a good workout for me too. Then we trade. They try and bounce me and they are absolutely SPENT by the time they are done. Teach them safe moves to try and just be there with them. One fantastic move is to lay on your back and try and "kick" your way up and down over and over again always landing on your back. The ab workout you get is ridic. Go try it. Set a time to bounce for...I usually go for 5 minutes straight. Your abs will be blazing. The options are endless.
- Join a class with them...What do your kids enjoy? Are you willing to do it with them? The answer should be yes. We expect our kids to do what we want 99% of the time. Why not try something that they want. I hope Ella wants to take a martial art when she's older. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to take a class like that with her. For real!
- Backyard sports...The lovely thing about playing anything in your backyard is the privacy. Not to be stereotypical, but most moms out there are not former college softball players like myself. They may have a little less experience in all sports, so they may not want people watching them try and attempt sports with their kids. Don't be embarrassed with your skill level. If you give them SOME skills at a young age they will pick up on it and run with it. Paddle or racquet sports are a great non-intimidating way to introduce sports. Who is really THAT awesome at badminton?? Not me. But the hand-eye coordination that they will start to form will benefit them in all sports, and just real life in general. DON'T be embarrassed. You may actually find that you are better at some things than you thought.
- Be their role model...Just like everything in your child's life, YOU are their window to the world. Physical activity is no different. If you don't expect your kids to say please and thank you, they won't. If you don't expect your kids to get off their butts and do something, they won't. Your expectations of them need to be high. You may just find a new form of bonding as well.
The reason our kids enjoy fitness is because we have introduced it to them over and over again. I hope you enjoy these new activities. Your future P.E. teachers are thanking you in advance. I can't handle the eye rolling anymore. Ha Ha