Exercise with the Homeschooled Child

April 30, 2010

Asalaam ‘Alaikum:

While what you feed yourself and your family is very important for a healthy life – we should never overlook the importance of exercise. This is especially difficult sometimes if you are educating more than one child at a time and are trying to get through the day’s lessons. However, we should always make exercise an important part of our homeschool experience. This is not only beneficial for you, but also for your children as well – they need it!

Sometimes it makes you wonder where you can get another free minute in your day – your day is packed with things to do and accomplish with your child. Ever had a day when nothing seemed to go right? There is a way to try to fix that problem – and it has to do with exercise. While we think we couldn’t find another minute in our day – you can actually save time by taking time for you and your children to relax and have fun. Just like us, kids can burn out – it is important for them to let off steam and run around and have fun sometimes. It can make a difference between having a bad homeschooling day and a good one. I know from experience – really – you can either spend all day struggling with this one topic – you are frustrated and your child is frustrated – or, you can get up and get out. Take a walk with your child – go to the park – ride bikes – whatever it takes. It usually is all you and your child need to get back into the swing of things – and you actually save time! We have (when I was first homeschooling) actually spent an entire day trying to get a topic because that’s the way I thought it was supposed to be done – we needed to finish, didn’t we? Anyway, the whole day was lost – my child felt bad and I felt bad. However, I realized that this isn’t the way it has to be. We can just take a break – or go on to something else. When we started to do that – it helped a lot. When my child returned to her work, it seemed like she could think clearly again – and so could I (obviously we both needed a break!) So, just remember that it is okay to take a break!

If your child is struggling with something and they seem to get frustrated – let them have a break – let them run around the yard or at a park. It seems when my children sit down after taking a break like this – they become energized and seem to have cleared their head. If your child is still struggling – perhaps it is something they are not ready for. If it is possible, set it aside for a while before you bring up the topic again – go on to another topic. However, if your child is still struggling and you have to get through the materials – set it aside for the next day. Before the next day, try to think of ways you can approach the topic in a more creative manner – even if you need to go to the library or search online for an answer. Games are always fun – is there a way that you can play a game with your child to help them get the idea?

Anyway – back to exercise! I am trying to get more exercise into our schedule with the kids. Some of it can be planned – while some of it can be spontaneous (it’s a nice day – let’s go to the park and run around). I found some books at the library that are very helpful and thought I’d share – I’m actually buying my own copies of the books for daily use, insha’Allah.

Run Jump Hide Slide Splash – The 200 Best Ourtdoor Games Ever by Joe Rhatigan & Rain Newcomb

I originally forgot to add this book to the list. However, I was looking it over today and really like it a lot. There are some games we can’t play because we don’t have big enough teams – but many of the games that they say require more people can be altered for just two or three players. I’m looking forward to playing some of these games – but we are sick with allergy related problems right now. Whenever I get a book from the library, I put little sticky notes on the pages I like. If a book has too many – I know it is time to buy the book. Some books only have a few pages marked but this one has at least thirty or more right now – it’s a keeper. See for yourself – it has nice games using different environments (in a pool, in the backyard, on the sidewalk) and different tools (jump rope, jacks, marbles, balls, bats, etc). You should definitely find something you like in this book.

The Picture Rulebook of Kids’ Games by Roxanne Henderson

This book is full of rules for different kids’ games that we most likely played as children (and more!). They not only have playground games, but also rainy-day games. Some of them require more children, but I have found that we can also play them with less children altering the rules a little bit. I was fortunate to find this gem at the library book sale.

The girls and I have found a renewed interest in jumping rope as exercise and fun. But, we haven’t just stopped at learning to jump rope – we are also learning tricks with the jump rope. I found some videos about double dutch and showed the girls what people could do with a jump rope – they were hooked. Then, I also found exercise videos that teach jump rope skills and they loved them. Now, we are all trying out the tricks together and having a lot of fun, masha’Allah. There are some books about the topic as well – that show the tricks and give detailed instructions on how to perform them. Here are some we have looked at:

The Jump Rope Primer by Ken M. Solis and Bill Budris – they also have a video available. While the books are somewhat helpful, I find videos more helpful because you can actually see what they are doing (but that’s just my learning style). Our library did not have the video – so I haven’t been able to preview it to see if it is beneficial or not.

Jump Rope Training by Buddy Lee. This one is geared more toward adults – he also have a video available entitled Jump Rope Training For Weight Loss and Toning. These are for adults, but if you use the instructions contained within them, you can get a good idea how to teach your child the tricks. I found the video beneficial.

We also took a look at The Jump Rope Book by Glen Vecchione. This book has detailed pictures to show the moves. Some may find it helpful.

There are many other books and videos available about jumping rope – it is pretty good exercise and it can be a lot of fun. I have even found books that are full of rhymes that kids learn on the playground – rhymes they say while they jump rope.

One book that I highly recommend is “Ready to Use P.E. Activities for Grades K-2” by Joanne and Maxwell Landy. The also have books for other grades but at this point, this is the one I am going to stick with because it pretty much meets my needs right now. This book pretty much has every kind of physical activity detailed with pictures. It is a wealth of wonderful ideas for implementing physical activity in your homeschool. Some of the activities are for groups – some you can’t do but there are others that you can alter a bit to work for less children. I borrowed this book from the library and immediately realized I needed my own copy. I am hoping to get it soon and start using it to have fun activities at my finger tips. While it would be helpful to use the book for planned activities – it can also easily be used to find a quick activity to do with the kids on the fly too!

There is also a website that has instructions for physical activities to do with your child, called “Games Kids Play.” I am sure there are many more available that I don’t know about.

We also do many other things to try to keep ourselves healthy – all while having fun. The girls love to ride bikes, hula hoop, have races, play soccer, play kick ball, run around, etc. We also try to go walking either around our neighborhood or we go to a local park.

One thing we try to do each summer is go hiking every weekend. While many parents think their kids can’t do this – they actually can, if they are given the chance. We go into the mountains on the weekend with the girls and actually go hiking for 4-6 hours at a time. The kids love being so close to nature – we’ve seen bears (alhumdulilah, not too close – though), elk, squirrels, horses, chipmunks, porcupines, marmots, frogs, lizards, snakes, and many varieties of bird. They’ve also explored many different habitats and the different plants and animals that make up those habitats. The kids absolutely love it – and we don’t have to carry them home – they are usually still running around when we get back to the car! It is a great time to be together – share stories – explore the world around us – and, be healthy. I just can’t wait for the summer to come – around here we still get snow in the mountains this time of year. Insha’Allah soon! Here are a few pics from our journeys so far . . .

I’m curious – what do you do to keep your family healthy? Have you found any good resources or ideas for ways to implement exercise in your school day? Please share!

Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
Sumayyah Umm SAA

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One Response to “ Exercise with the Homeschooled Child ”

  1. Maryam F. on May 2, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    As salaamu alaykum ya ukhtee.

    You are very right. Besides the benefits of exercise, it is part and parcel of our deen. The hadith below is a reminder to me first, and to all my sisters.

    The Hadeeth of the Strong Believer:

    On the authority of Aboo Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him), the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said:

    “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allaah than the weak believer, while there is good in both. Guard over that which benefits you, seek Allaah’s Assistance, wa laa ta’jiz (don’t lend yourself to things devoid of benefit, and this could carry many meanings), and if something befalls you, then don’t say ‘If I only would have done such and such,’ rather say, ‘Qaddarallaahu wa maa shaa’ fa’al’ (Allaah ordained (this) and He does what He wills), for verily the phrase ‘If I would have’ makes way for the work of Shaytaan.”

    My BS degree is in Nutrition and I’m back to school for my masters in Nutrition. I’m glad to be in the field because it is a female-dominated field. Besides being a female-dominated field, there are very very few Muslimahs studying to be Nutritionists or Registered Dietitians. And as we all know, research has proven that there’s a strong link between diet and disease. Most of the foods we consume nowadays have names that we cannot even pronounce, talk less of knowing the composition of their ingredients. At times, I spend an ample amount of time on the phone with food companies to explain what their ingredients mean.

    Exercise and food/nutrition do go together and as Muslim homeschooling families, especially Muslim homeschooling moms, it’s crucial to take that time out of our very occupied schedule, and nurture ourselves. It does not mean going to the gym 4 or 5 times a week. It can be within the calmness of our homes. If one can afford going to the gym, that’s fine. However, it might not always be feasible for those who homeschool. It does work out for some and it doesn’t work out for others.

    For my kids, they just have to go outside for at least, an hour per day, and flex their muscles. They love to ride their bikes and fly their kites. They play ball and do hula loop with our neighbors kids who are also Muslims. They like to call the birds, (as if the birds could hear them) by displaying their bird feeders outside our porch areas. Another thing that excites them including my three year old, is the walk they take to our mailbox to bring the mails home. They just love responsibility given to them when they are outside playing and enjoying the childhood aroma.

    For me, alhamdulilaah, I find time to attend my aerobics class once a week, and my tajweed class twice a week. The aerobics class is exercise for my body, and the tajweed class is exercise for my soul. My soul indeed, needs some “spiritual nutrition”.

    To my happiness, one of the sisters in my community announced two weeks ago that there will be a karate class for sisters only at the masjid. And it’s going to be $20 per month. You can’t beat that in any karate club around here. Alhamdulilaah, our masjid is very big enough to accommodate extra rooms for sisters only.

    Karate class? Trust me. I jumped at the call. I’ve been wanting to take self-defense classes after someone was about to break into our home early last year. Now is the time, and I definitely cannot wait anymore.

    Hence, the message in your article has khayr in it, maa shaa Allaah. Barakah Allahu feeki.

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