Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crew Review: Family Time Fitness

Photobucket  I've never worried much about the "PE" aspect of our homeschool. I don't believe there is inherent value in learning organized sports, we struggle with competition too much as it is, I'm not going to go out of my way to ENCOURAGE it between my children. So I've made sure that most days include free outside time, which generally includes running around, hiking in the woods, etc. But as they've gotten older, they're more likely to spend their outside time reading a book, or talking together under the apple tree, etc instead of being active. I still wasn't worried about it, the fact that they can walk 7+ miles in one day (all over Washington DC and Great Falls) without a single complaint about being tired or sore, and that they think it's "fun" to find the steepest hill in our woods and try to climb it, and such tells me that they are doing fine. But, when we got the opportunity to review Family Time Fitness, I figured it would be a good addition to our days, and certainly would be good for ME to get more exercise.

We received a download of the Fitness 4 Homeschool curriculum.  This is designed to be used 5 days a week for 25-60 min per day. It is designed for grades K-8, but can be used by the whole family. It includes 260 lessons complete with video demonstrations.

We received it right before we left on our motorhome trip with the grandparents. We didn't use it often on the trip, but it was nice to pull out at rest areas on the driving days and get some wiggles out.

Once we were home, we started using it more regularly, however, it emphasized to me how that yes, we do still get exercise, not everyday, but regularly. . . I wasn't going to insist they do jumping jacks the same day they had helped stack a bunch of firewood, for example.

After reading through the first lesson, I figured I'd be sore afterward (I'm not good about getting exercise regularly), but I was surprised when the girls also complained about being sore the next day. Honestly, I wasn't happy about that, I don't buy into the "no pain, no gain" thing, certainly not for children, and even re-read through the introductory material to see if it gave guidelines for easing into the program to avoid this, if it did, I didn't see it, even with re-reading. Obviously, different exercises use different muscles, and apparently these exercises used muscles that they don't typically use with all their bike riding, walking, hiking through the woods, etc.

After that, we dialed things back and didn't attempt to do as many reps as were suggested on some exercises. I also found that some of the "outside activity" were things that worked better with more children (freeze tag, with 2 people doesn't work very well, nor does it work well when participants are very different sizes, if they'd tried to include Little Bit &/or me in the game, pretty sure I can't crawl through Little Bit's legs to unfreeze her), and often the outdoor activity, and sometimes other exercises included competition, which I'm not fond of. So we adapted or skipped things as needed.

Little Bit joins in when she feels like it, and sits out what she doesn't want to do. The big girls came into it with a negative feeling because of being sore that first day. As we've continued through it and I haven't insisted they do more than they feel comfortable with, they've been accepting of it, though I can't say they jump up and down when I say it's time to do it. Some of the activities, they've enjoyed, some not so much. As we continue to use this I suspect we will end up revisiting some activities more often than suggested, if they enjoy them.

The articles on the website can give you a better idea of the philosophies behind this program. The introduction included when the product is purchased also explains this. I certainly agree that movement and regular exercise is important. I don't agree that the best/only way to accomplish this is through a formal, planned, adult-directed curriculum, any more than I feel that other "academics" are best learned in that way. I didn't set up scheduled "let's learn to walk" times with my children as toddlers, we played, they watched us, and when they were developmentally ready, they began figuring it all out. Likewise, when we do things together as a family, Little Bit sees her sisters balance on a rock wall, and asks to walk on it also, so one of us holds her hand and she  tries it. I didn't have structured "bike riding" times for the girls to learn to balance on a two-wheeler, they rode, with training wheels, and when they were ready, we took the training wheels off and worked together to figure out that final balance. . . So, as with most things "educational", there are different theories and philosophies, and we each have to decide what is best for our families.

So, do I plan to continue using this? Yes! Will we use it 5 days a week? Rarely. if we are getting other exercise, I'm good with that. I'd RATHER my children get exercise hiking in the woods than hopping back and forth across the yard. But on days when time or weather doesn't allow for the hikes in the woods or walking all over a battlefield or whatever, I'm glad to have this as a resource to fall back on.

I have the current section of this downloaded on my iPad, so even if we're travelling we can pull it up and use it wherever we are.

This really is a great value, for $57, you get a download that can be used year after year, for all your children. It can suggest some fun new things too, like bouncing (dribbling) balls in hula hoops on the driveway.

I would encourage all homeschoolers to evaluate how much physical activity your children are getting on a regular basis, and how varied that physical activity is and consider if this seems sufficient for optimal health, if not, consider Family Time Fitness as an inexpensive, "easy" way to incorporate this into your days.

To see what other crew members thought of this program, read their reviews, here.


Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the above mentioned product in exchange for writing an honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are those of myself or my children, as stated.

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