Normally, I don’t love the word “exercise.” It evokes thoughts of burpees and jogging—both things I will happily never do again. But, this summer, I am worried about my kids getting enough exercise. In the “before times,” as my friend calls it, we had active summer plans. We went swimming at our local pool and bike riding around our neighborhood. We would have spent time at parks and beaches with friends. But this year, all that is canceled. So, I will have to make a new plan.
Build the Core
Kids need to be active to keep core muscles strong and having a strong core makes it easier to do things like sit and read. So, to me, planning on a good homeschool program depends on my kids building some muscles each summer with unintended exercise. We sometimes continue activities into fall, but usually not winter. Two of my kids just aren’t athletes, so the casual fun of summer is usually essential. I realize there are some great athletes out there doing amazing workouts at home, despite the lockdowns. But those aren’t my kids. So, what are we going to do?
Family yoga seems like a good plan. We can pull out some yoga mats and push back the furniture for this exercise. Yoga is a great activity, as you can do it with any fitness level. My athletic youngest child can work on fancy things like handstands, while the rest of us just try for improving our downward dog pose.
Amazon Prime has several yoga workouts we can test out, both for kids and adults. And YouTube is also a good source of yoga workouts. I also think that there is a yoga studio near me offering some yoga over zoom. Hopefully, we will find a few options we like.
We are going to be doing our best to go for some family hikes. In my area, many public spaces for walking and hiking were closed earlier this spring, as too many people flocked to them. But, as we ease into summer, I am feeling ready to explore further afield to get a good hike with the kids. There are a lot of state parks that are in driving distance that we are going to try to explore. Being sure to take along some snacks, water, and even binoculars can make a simple walk a lot more kid-friendly. I’d love to get the kids to hike more than a mile, so I’m going to be sure that I prep a backpack to bring along with some emergency supplies and those snacks.
Use the Yard
The other thing I plan to do is use our yard with the intention to get some exercise. There are a lot of good ways to use a yard for activities with kids, but the key is usually having parents who set the stage for fun. With small kids, a kiddie pool and sandbox go a long way. You can also toss a ball around, play whiffle ball or even practice soccer passes. Play equipment like a swing or slide also helps.
With my older ones, I will have to work a little harder. Yard games like croquet and bocce ball are on my agenda. Throwing everyone into the yard with a set of loaded squirt guns can get them running around for a while, too. I’m even planning to set them up with a big water balloon fight at least once.
What are you doing to keep your kids active this summer? Please share in the comments below!
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.