Building Physical Activity into Your Child’s Life

So far this year we have played basketball, baseball/softball, tennis, and done swimming. We are currently playing soccer and are about to cycle through the seasons one more time with basketball beginning early winter.

HHM Building Physical Activity into Your Childs Life

When I was in high school, I played on the badminton team, a sport you would probably be hard pressed to find at schools these days (my alma mater still offers the sport). I was in constant battle with another teammate for the second and first place positions–titles I held and of which I was proud. Tennis and swimming are two other sports I enjoyed. I even had the chance to take an independent study physical education class that introduced me to archery and golf. Later in my mid 20s, I developed a love of running, which I have recently started doing again.

The average homeschool student participates in some form of sport, but there are many students who do not. An interest in sports is not required of every child, but participation in some form of physical activity is essential for all children.

A sedentary lifestyle (a.k.a. sitting disease) has several detrimental effects on the human body that include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine website, “Inactivity tends to increase with age.” Much of what your child learns in his early years regarding exercise has the potential to carry with him throughout his adult life. Imagine how much better the health of your child will be in his 20s, 30s, and beyond if he understands now the importance of physical activity.

If you have a child who would rather turn pages in a book than lift a baseball bat, that is okay, but you need to get him doing something physical. Some simple exercise ideas are the following:

• Let your child pick three songs (about 10 minutes total) he loves. Then play them back-to-back and dance to them.
• Take 15-20 minute walks every day. Add a scavenger hunt to the experience to give your child something to do when walking becomes “too boring.”
• When you arrive home after running errands, etc., walk the length of your block before going into your home. If your block is extremely long (ex: major thoroughfare), then choose a starting and stopping point.
• Take a walk in the morning before sitting down at the breakfast (or dinner) table.
• Walk the mall or some other weekly destination (ex: co-op, school campus where your child is tutored, etc. ).

Buy a stationary bicycle. If you are able to afford it, then purchase a new or used stationary bicycle and allow your child to use it while he listens to a book on tape or watches his favorite program. An episode of his favorite show will provide at least 20 minutes of steady exercise! These steps may be the pathway to your child becoming more physically active and healthier.

If you have a child who is obviously physical and wants to participate in every sport available, then let him if you are able to afford it; financially and time wise. One way to gain direction in this area with your child is to get him involved in some sport whether it is through the local park and recreation department or something you offer at home. Due to “living in the middle of nowhere,” I knew it would be too expensive driving regularly to the next major city for tennis lessons. A personal coach was definitely out of the question, so I ended up teaching my children how to play tennis at a park near where we live. The tab and time was on me.

Start your child early if you are able. Physical education is as important to your child’s development as academics. By starting young, your child will learn about teamwork, learn a skill, and see the results of training and the responsibility of playing a sport. It will also be easier for her to decide which sport she prefers and should pursue as she grows older. Participation in some sports can be quite expensive. Interest also waivers as children get older and become more committed to one sport than another after having had the opportunity to try a variety.

One thing to remember is to never push a child into a sport if he decides he does not like it after trying it. One of my sons did not want to play soccer and now loves it. Another son did not want to play baseball, and after one season is already looking forward to playing next year. My daughter loves just about every sport and has played many. After her experience, she is concentrating more on her love of soccer. Sometimes, you have to make a child try something before she can know if she likes it or not.

In what sports do your children participate? Do you have a sedentary child? What ways have you incorporated physical education into your school (life)?

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One Comment

  1. I played on the golf team in high school (almost as cool as badminton 😉 ). But at least it was exercise. I know every generation says this, but the world has truly changed since I was a kid. The sedentary lifestyle that most kids lead these days would have been nearly unthinkable 25 years ago. We all would have been bored out of our minds! There is only so much Zelda and Super Mario Brothers a kid can play before he needs to take a lap. I love the fact that you’re encouraging kids today to exercise any way they can!

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