Fitness has been one of those homeschool topics that I’ve gone back and forth on. My kids are young, so I honestly debated whether they needed a formal P.E. program. I mean, isn’t playing outside enough?
On the other hand, my kids from a very early age have loved to exercise with their Daddy, which is not always ideal. When Daddy heads to the gym to work out on the tread mill, the kids head to the garage or outside and adapt their own “exercise” routine, which is often the stuff of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
Needless to say, when Family Time Fitness came up for review, I was all over it. I definitely wanted to take a look at this product, and I was not disappointed. This program is awesome!
I reviewed their Family Time Fitness-Core 1 package which includes 260 lessons for ages 4-13. It also included the following items:
There were also a few items I had to have on hand: hula hoops, jump ropes, bean bags, playground balls, measuring tape and stop watch (I used my iPod for this). The curriculum also calls for cones and an exercise mat, but we were able to make due without these items.
When I first began looking over this program, I had read this on their website:
Physical Education (PE) is structured physical activity that develops an organized mind and body for students. Many homeschool parents commonly mistake any physical activity for a PE class. Unfortunately, unstructured physical activity does not give a student the building blocks for proper fitness development. Activities like one day co-op play, Wii Fit or Wii sports and individual sports are not considered physical education because they do not comprehensively teach and manage physical fitness in students.
Honestly, I was still a little skeptical, wondering if it was perhaps their sales pitch. But after going through these lessons with my kids, I absolutely understand. This program is much more than playtime, and it is a fantastic introduction to a regular fitness routine. At the beginning of each lesson there is a summary of skills taught within that lesson: mobility, balance, coordination, jumping, flexibility, strength, etc. In addition to these skills, however, I could tell that particular workouts were concentrating on particular areas of the body, just like an adult workout program. Certain activities strengthened arms, while others strengthened the core and still others focused on endurance.
But the best part of this program is that this intense exercise is creatively packaged in fun games and activities. Crab walk and monster walk strengthened arms and legs, popcorn (child stays curled for a certain length of time and then “pops” out) and superman worked abdominal muscles, skipping/hopping/shuffling routines provided endurance. One of our favorite activities was the Agility Course. I used four different sand buckets (instead of cones) to mark off our course, then the kids ran, shuffled, skipped, and bear-crawled to each cone, timing each other to see how long it took to get to the end of the course.
Within each lesson are links to video demonstrations that show children performing these exercises. These were extremely helpful since it was hard to always understand from the verbal description. The videos would also make it possible for you to teach/coach these lessons without actually participating if you were physically limited. My kids loved seeing other kids performing the exercises, and it motivated them to try even the more difficult exercises.
I decided that working out with the kids was my best shot at getting an exercise time for myself; and let me tell you, this is quite the workout. I was indeed sore from these workouts and could tell exactly which muscle groups had gotten the workout the day before.
What I loved most about this program is that it is creating healthy fitness habits for my kids—a real, regular workout—and teaching them at an early age that exercising can be fun. As we begin our study this year on nutrition and anatomy, I want healthy habits to be a focus in our home—not just for the sake of being healthy, but so that we are all prepared to serve God to the best of our physical abilities. This program has definitely helped us to begin reaching toward that goal.
Can a child just play outside and be healthy? Perhaps, but I have to agree with FTF. While you could call this unstructured backyard time “physical activity,” you can’t call it “education.” This program is worth every penny, and I will absolutely be continuing with this program.
The Family Time Fitness Core 1 download is available on their website for $57. You can check out their other products, view their video introduction to the program, or read what others on the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say.