How To: Teach P.E.

Physical education is an important part of your curriculum not necessarily to satisfy state requirements, though that may be necessary, but its importance really comes down to your responsibility as a parent to help your child develop habits to keep fit.  And if you are not fit yourself, it is a good excuse to make that a habit for yourself!

One way to make sure your child is getting regular exercise would be to involve them in organized sports.  I’m particularly a big believer that boys need to burn off all that excess energy, so my two oldest boys have been involved in sports since they were young.  My oldest son started in baseball when he was barely five.  My middle son started at the age of six.

At the age of nine my oldest son lost interest in baseball due to the fact that in our city league the pitching shifts from coach pitch to kid pitch at the age of nine.  My son didn’t particularly like being target practice for a bunch of nine-year olds.   When he wanted to quit baseball I agreed but told him he had to pick another sport.  There is a semi-private golf course and tennis courts within 10 or 15 minutes driving distance from our house (which is nothing for us – we definitely live in the “exurbs” or outer suburbs – to be precise, we live in the woods!) so I gave my son the choice of taking either golf or tennis lessons.

My father had already introduced my son to the game of golf so it was only natural that he would pick that sport.  I got him involved in a summer junior golf program.  It was a wonderful program run by a former LPGA professional and it taught him the rules and etiquette of golf.   By the age of 13 he had decided he wanted to become a professional golfer himself and after graduating college at the age of 20 he took a job at a golf course and began working on his game.  Recently however he decided to put that dream aside for the time being to pursue a career in politics, his other passion.

My middle son, on the other hand, at the age of 17 is still playing baseball.  He loves it!  While golf is a perfect game for introverts like my oldest son, because you actually don’t need another person in order to play golf, playing a team sport involves a totally different dynamic which suits my extremely social 17-year old just fine.  Mind you, I haven’t always been thrilled with this sport because like all team sports there are a lot of politics and favoritism involved.  However, now that my son is consistently one of the best players on his team it’s not an issue.  Nevertheless, I decided awhile ago that my youngest son will not be playing baseball –  I plan to have his older brother teach him golf in a couple of years when he matures a little.

My daughter didn’t participate in a “sport” but she did take dance lessons for at least a decade and at the age of 26 still dances (these days she enjoys going Contra Dancing).  Dance is definitely a wonderful form of exercise and can become part of a fitness lifestyle as it has for my daughter.

Organized sports and dance are just a couple of ways to incorporate physical fitness into your curriculum.  There are other activities I would like to suggest to you but before I do I want to offer a bit of advice: whatever activities you choose to engage your child in, do not allow your fitness program to become another requirement that stresses you out.  Your fitness routine should be a net gain, a benefit for your child – and possibly for you too as well if it motivates you to maintain or initiate your own fitness regimen.

Moving on (no pun intended) I would like to suggest that another possibility for adding physical education to your curriculum could be introducing family fitness activities.  Some possibilities are:

  • Cycling
  • Tennis
  • Hiking
  • Skating
  • Yard work
  • Skiing (down-hill or cross-country snow skiing or water skiing)
  • Swimming
  • Boating (this of course assumes that there isn’t a motor on the boat)
  • Modified team sports such as softball, baseball, basketball and football

There may be other activities that you can think of that are common in your area.  Family fitness activities have the added benefit of developing family bonds and shared memories.   On the other hand, most families have trouble being able to consistently implement these types of activities to an extent that it will have a significant impact on the child’s (or parent’s) fitness.   It is more likely that these activities can be used to supplement your physical fitness program.

One of the best ways to ensure that your family engages in a regular fitness program is to invest in exercise equipment that you use at home.  It does not take a lot of money to acquire an impressive array of exercise equipment.  Our family has been given exercise equipment that was cluttering up someone else’s home.  Other items we have bought because I knew they would get used.  And they have!  Check out garage sales, thrift stores, newspaper listings for inexpensive equipment.  And keep your eyes and ears open for items people might be willing to give away if you’ll just haul it off!

To give you an idea of the types of equipment you might want to obtain for your family I’ll tell you what we have at our house:

  • Perfect Push-ups
  • Iron Gym
  • Assorted dumbbells and bar bells
  • Universal machine
  • All kinds of sports equipment from baseball gloves to footballs to tennis and racquet ball rackets and more!

I also have exercise DVD’s that I use for my own fitness routine.  Because of a chronic health problem involving my adrenal glands I cannot do cardio exercise i.e. aerobic-type exercise, but I realized several years ago that I needed to do strength training.  Several years ago I was climbing some stairs in a parking garage and found that I could not walk four or five flights of stairs without my legs actually seizing up – I literally couldn’t move.  Though I am careful about what I eat in order to maintain a healthy weight, I exercise because I need to be able to function.  I do not have the time to head off to the gym several times a week so I purchased DVD’s and dumbbells (5, 8, and 10-pounders) to use at home.  I started out using “The Firm” DVD’s but after a year or so wanted to use something that was a little less “dancy” and a little more intense in terms of focused exercises so I now use the Jari Love “Ripped” series DVD’s.  Not only does this exercise regimen keep me strong and toned but also working out with dumbbells is a great way to ward off osteoporosis.  I’m also planning on investing in kettlebells at the recommendation of my friend CaptiousNut.  My 17-year old son plans to try them out too.  They are excellent at strengthening the core which, besides other benefits, helps to prevent back problems.

To summarize:

  • Consider enrolling your child in a sports program to help them get regular exercise.
  • Look for ways your family can do things together to get moving.
  • Consider an investment in exercise equipment as an investment in your family’s health.

Getting and keeping fit is not about looking like a super-model.  (Frankly, most super-models didn’t get to looking like super-models without some “help.”)  Fitness is about your family’s health.  Helping your child to develop fitness as a habit now will help them to maintain a healthy lifestyle as an adult.  And if fitness is not a habit you developed early on, it’s not too late to start.  Use your home-school physical education program as an impetus to develop your own fitness regimen.

Finally, share with me and my readers what you do to incorporate physical education into your curriculum.  I look forward to hearing about it in the comments!

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