How much exercise should a child get?
How much physical activity should a child get a day? According to the American Association of Pediatrics a child should be getting thirty minutes of exercise a day, and some sources suggest that the minimum amount should be closer to sixty minutes. As a homeschooling parent of a kindergartener, our family has chosen to incorporate homeschool physical education classes that are offered in our community. Our son is able to participate weekly in a swim class and a general p.e. class along with other homeschooled children.
These group classes are ideal for us, since we get to interact with other homeschooling families. However, on the days where we don’t have class, we are choosing to incorporate these home school p.e. ideas into our school day. Read on to find out one school district’s standards, and ways you can easily exercise at home!
What are the standards for physical education for Grades K-3?
My father is a former district co-ordinator for an award-winning physical education program in Illinois. He shared with me the guidelines developed for his former workplace, Indian Prairie School District. These are the goals that are expected to be met for Kindergarten through Third Grade students.
- Run continuously for 2 minutes (at a steady pace)
- Show proper form for push-ups
- Touch toes
- Show proper form for sit-ups (curl-ups)
- Show proper form for standing long jump
- 30 Foot Shuttle Run can be done in 13.3 - 14 seconds* (see page 2 for what a shuttle run is)
- 50 Yard Dash can be done in 10 -11 seconds
- Run continuously for 3 minutes (at a steady pace)
- Be able too do 3 push-ups with proper form
- Be able to touch toes
- Be able to do 10 sit-ups (curl-ups)
- Be able to do the standing long jump with a jump measuring 3'4”- 3'7”
- Be able to run the 30 Foot Shuttle in 12.8-13.8 seconds
- Be able to run the 50 Yard Dash in 9.8-10.5 seconds
- Run continuously for 4 minutes (at a steady pace)
- Be able to do 4 push-ups with proper form
- Be able to touch toes
- Be able to do 14 sit-ups (curl-ups)
- Be able to do the standing long jump with a jump measuring 3'8” to 4’
- Run the 30 Foot Shuttle in 12.8-13.2 seconds
- Run the 50 Yard Dash in 9.8-10 seconds
- Run continuously for 6 minutes (at a steady pace)
- Be able to do 5 push-ups with proper form
- Be able to touch toes
- Be able to do 20 sit-ups (curl-ups)
- Be able to do the standing long jump with a jump measuring 3'11” - 4'3”
- Run the 30 Foot Shuttle in 12.2-12.9 seconds
- Run the 50 Yard Dash in 9.4-9.6 seconds
*The first number of the two is always the ideal measuring point for boys and the higher, second score is always the ideal measuring point for girls.
So what can you do at home to keep your child moving?
Even if you could take a five minute break between subjects you would be able to fit in almost a half hour of exercise throughout the course of your school day. The following activities can be done at home, in a small space, with minimal resources.
- BALLOON BALL Blow up a regular balloon and play catch with it. Bat it back and forth trying to see how many times you can keep it between you and your child without it touching the ground. This is a good beginning step in eye-hand co-ordination.
- BOX BALL Take a regular box, and a small soft, small and have your child practice tossing the ball into the box from different distances. This helps children practice throwing at a target.
- ANIMAL WALKS One of the guidelines in the Indian Praire School District is that children can do all sorts of animal walks. You can practice on one of your five minute breaks between subjects and call out some animal walks to do (bunny hop, snake slither, kangaroo hop, elephant walk, etc.).
- ROPE JUMP Rather than jumping rope in a small space, put a jump rope on the floor and have your child practice jumping over it.
- RUN IN PLACE To get ready to meet some of the goals listed on page 1 (like the continuous running or the 50 yard dash) practice running in place. You could use a stopwatch and give your child a goal to meet, like 30 seconds without stopping.
- SHUTTLE RUN Even in a small space you can practice a shuttle run. A shuttle run is when you have two lines to run too, a starting line and at a distance away, another line. At the line a distance away from the starting line, you place two objects like two blocks or two erasers. A child runs back and forth between the two lines a total of four times, picking up the objects one at a time and setting them down on the start line. See page 1 for the ideal time that a 30 Foot Shuttle is done in for certain ages.
- BALANCE BEAM One thing we started last year, with our son, was walking on a balance beam (a 6 inch piece of wood leftover from the construction of his swing set). Using a board, have your child walk across. Some variations of this activity are found in the book, “Playful Learning” by Anne Engelhardt and Cheryl Sullivan. Ask your child to walk backwards, walk across with a bean bag on her head, walk on tiptoes, or try it with hands on hips or hands out to front or side.
- FREEZE DANCE For this five minute activity you will be having your child move, dance, and twist to music. When the music stops have your child freeze. This is a good way to get extra energy out between school subjects, and get exercise into your day too!
- RACKET BALL This is another activity taken from the book “Playful Learning.” For this game you will need to shape a wire coat hanger into a square, round the hook, and cover the hook with tape. Pull a nylon over the hanger to create in ‘indoor-use’ racket. Play racket ball with balloons.This is one of those homeschool p.e. ideas good for eye-hand co-ordination.
Keep it up!
Once you add some movement into your homeschool day, you can make sure to keep it up my making a goal chart. Post it in a place where you and your child can check off your goals daily. For example you may want to just list 6 boxes worth 5 minutes of exercise for each box, and check them off as you accomplish the minutes.
Or, you may want to have concrete goals such as do 10 push ups, and 20 sit-ups on Monday. You could make a weekly exercise chart for the whole family and everyone could see how much they were accomplishing.
As with most things in life, what is modeled to your child will stick with your child. If you are a parent that exercises with your child, or your child sees you making exercise a part of your day he is more likely to follow suit. However you incorporate movement in your day, you and your child will be more physically and mentally fit because of the added exercise.
Playful Learning by Anne Engelhardt and Cheryl Sullivan
Wikimedia Commons, Image of Child Running, “Perspective Run”
Wikimedia Commons, Image of Balance Beam, “Balance Beam GMM”
Wikimedia Commons, Image of Children Dancing, “Finnerud Dancing”