We have had some time to work with the Fitness 4 Homeschool Physical Fitness Curriculum from Family Time Fitness and I have to say, they have thought of absolutely everything for a well-rounded physical education program for homeschoolers! I am excited to bring you this review as I think it’s a product that is very necessary and often overlooked when we are planning our homeschool curricula and activities.
I think most of us have kids who are pretty active, as kids are active by nature, but are you really taking the time to guide them in this process and be intentional in showing them how to move their bodies to increase strength, flexibility, stamina, and agility? I know I was NOT doing any of that.
A little background on the company, Family Time Fitness: Mike Hanik is a professor at Texas A&M and has been studying and teaching exercise, youth fitness, sports, and health for 20+ years. The company was founded when his brother started homeschooling his children and they could not find anything suitable for physical education for homeschoolers. I have to agree that there is virtually nothing available, and I’m glad they made this observation and created this PE curriculum because I could use some handholding in this area. I feel I can trust Mike’s expertise and guidance based on his professional history and having homeschoolers in the family!
First Thoughts on Fitness 4 Homeschool
I have to admit, the first few times I logged in, I found the site overwhelming and confusing to navigate. Once you login, there is a members page you can use to access the different categories of resources (see image below). I really like how this part is set up because the menu is there so you can keep things straight depending what you’re wanting to use.
Some of the resources are distributed as time passes in the program, so you will receive more items in week 4, week 8, week 11…depending on which resources you’re looking at. I think this is a good idea to keep things feeling fresh, and this is not something you can really work ahead with anyway.
There is also a membership page (you can see it at the bottom of the menu above, to the left), and this has only the resources currently available to you.
For whatever reason, I kept logging in and going to this page, so I ended up not being sure of what to click on. But once I figured out that everything is listed by category on the other page, I was able to navigate the site better!
One other aspect that overwhelmed me at first is that the lessons are grouped into pdf files. The workouts we were doing were part of the Core 1 curriculum (for beginners) and there is one pdf file with lessons 1 through 20, another for 21-40, and so on (there are 160 lessons plus 30 bonus lessons). Thus, once you’re past the first few days, you have to scroll a lot to get to the next lessons. But, depending which program you are using to open pdf files (I use Adobe Acrobat DC, which is a paid product, but I think you can do this in Reader also), you can open up the window to the left with the thumbnails and find where you left off more quickly.
Using the Homeschool PE Program
I really like that each phys ed lesson has info for me as the mom, a warm up sequence, an activity sequence, and a cool down sequence, and then suggestions for outdoor activities. Each lesson takes maybe half an hour for the main activities and then additional time for the outdoor activities, and you can do these for as long as you desire. The goal is an hour a day of physical activity for children.
Each activity has instructions for how to perform it, plus a link to an unlisted YouTube video with a demonstration of how to do that activity. This was great since some people need to see things in motion and not just read the words describing how to do it. I was able to follow the directions alone for most, but for some I did watch the videos and they were short and sweet.
It is intended that you will do five lessons a week, but you don’t have to. We weren’t able to do it that much but I think it was still effective for our family. I think this would be perfect for those who live up north and can’t go outside for play time for months on end (or for Floridians like us who don’t do so well in the heat – which also lasts for months on end!).
We did not use any special equipment that we didn’t already have on hand. There is an introduction document that has all the equipment you can use with the program, but you can surely make due with what you have. We have various sizes of balls we used, and for something that needs cones, we just used something we picked up outside in the yard, like a large rock, or a leaf on a non-windy day, or a natural marker in the yard like where the concrete slab ends. I do suggest grabbing a jump rope, though. Ours broke and I haven’t replaced it yet, and for some activities you could use a regular rope (like the Jump the River activity) instead. Sidewalk chalk is helpful for this also (one of the outside activities is hopscotch, for example).
But don’t feel like you have to go crazy buying a bunch of stuff! Coupled with the low cost for the program itself, not having to buy a lot of extras is a huge plus for those of us on a strict budget.
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We have been working with the Fitness 4 Homeschool program from Family Time Fitness and having a blast with it! Here is one of the activities included – it’s called Ball Chops. My big girls thought the exercises were so fun and my toddlers joined in at times, too. . As a mom, it’s great to have something all planned out, complete with directions and instructional videos to help me demonstrate without looking like too much of a fool! 😁😅 . You can find my full review on my blog through my LinkTree! Thanks to @fitnessforfamilies for developing this program – it certainly fills a need in the homeschool community. . . . . #homeschoolers #homeschoolfamily #fitnessforfamilies #fitness4homeschool #homeschoolPE #homeschoolphysed #handsonhomeschool #healthyhabits #homeschooledkids #homeschoolingmom #homeeducator #homeschoolcurriculum #homeschoolreview #homeschoolinfluencers #relaxedhomeschooling #Christianhomeschool
So what did my kids think of Fitness 4 Homeschool? They thought it was awesome! They loved most of the activities and I think their fitness level is already improving. They are already very active but we never did anything structured. My second-born is pretty clumsy and could use some strengthening of her legs and ankles in particular, and I think these will benefit her greatly in toning things up and helping with her balance and agility.
In particular, they thought activities like Frog Squats, Monster Walking, and Superman were fun. I’m still having to explain or demonstrate activities for them but they are getting better at remembering the names and that speeds things up a bit.
For me, I love that this really requires no effort from me aside from demonstrating activities and doing some printing, for the most part. I had fun doing the activities with them, even if I felt a bit silly – that is part of why I love this program so much! It really helped me get on their level as I am NOT a “fun mom” by nature.
Something else you can do with your kids is the physical fitness test. Remember doing this back in school when you were younger? Family Time Fitness has developed their own test that you can do periodically to objectively measure how they are doing. I really wanted to do this before we started the program to get a benchmark but with the health issues we experienced during this time frame (surgery plus illness), it just didn’t happen.
The test includes:
- vertical jump
- standing long jump
- shuffle pick-up test (similar to shuttle run)
- 40-yard sprint
- walk-run test (1 mile)
- squat test
- push ups
- sit ups
- standing balance
- sit and reach test
Mike has provided directions for how to do each one as well as how to measure these activities so you are accurately assessing your child and can compare to previous tests. They suggest doing these every six to eight weeks.
They also have workbooks you can print. We did a few of the workbook pages for the K-1st level. These include tracing and writing fitness-related words, flashcards you can print and cut out, some pictures to color, that kind of thing.
There are multiple workbooks, divided into four each for K-1st, 2nd-3rd, and 4th-5th, plus a coloring book for preschoolers and two workbooks for high schoolers. The ones for high schoolers delve more into true anatomy and physiology, which I thought was excellent.
If you know anything about anatomy at all, you can easily use the coloring pages from the workbooks for lower grades as diagrams to label.
There are tests you can give your children as well, with answer keys included. There are also certificates you can download to give your kids when they complete each program (Core 1, Core 2 [intermediate], and High School), the workbooks, and some other things like a 5K.
In the extra downloads section, I found several things including trackers and charts for both exercise and nutrition. The nutrition log might be a good tool for teens to help them understand portion sizes and the caloric makeup of different foods. There are more helpful nuggets that are included in this program such as cookbooks, some articles on fitness and its importance (the “barriers to exercise” article helped me stop with my excuses), a couple of webinars…I’m still finding new stuff to peruse! Some of it is released by week, just like the actual lessons and supplementary material for the kids.
Overall, while this program will take a bit of digging around to find all the hidden gems, it won’t take long to get into a groove with navigating the site and leading your children through the lessons. The workbooks are wonderful for reinforcing the importance of staying fit and active, and there are tons of helps for mom to set a good example! Add in the low cost for an annual or five-year membership and I would highly recommend Fitness 4 Homeschool!
I received a free membership to Fitness 4 Homeschool in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not compensated in any other way.