The second thing that St. John Bosco tried to emphasize in the life of his students was lots of outside play and activity. He'd tried to have some kind of a field nearby the location of his Oratorios so the boys would have lots of room to run around and play ball. He really felt it was a great way for the boys to release the stress and tension in their lives. These were kids he took off the street who lived lives of dire poverty. They had no fun in their lives and they were hard-scrabbled urchins. They needed a wholesome outlet for their youthful energy. St. John Bosco really believed in the benefits of physical exercise. He, himself, was a natural athlete who taught himself acrobatic tricks which he used to entertain his boys. Of course now we know all the benefits of lots of healthy exercise; how it keeps you not only physcially fit but also keeps you on an even keel emotionally, all those endorphins. I think St. John Bosco also thought it helped to keep the boys chaste. And just this week we finally got the pyschological report back after all that testing we did all spring on poor William. One of the recommendations to help Will concentrate better was consistent, daily exercise. So all the benefits that good John Bosco wanted for his boys have been upheld by scientific research.
Well, we are not an Oratorio founded by St. John Bosco. We are a homeschooling family whose chief officer (me) is out of shape and has never been very athletic. I am a natural born couch potato and all my life I've had to struggle against that tendency. Not only am I a natural born couch potato but I'm also an approaching-fifty-30-pounds-overweight-with-achey-knees couch potato. I also have kids who don't seem to take to team sports. Various children have tried various sports (Becky being the only exception; we haven't tried anything so far) but all petered out fairly quickly. For one thing, they all seem to have this vision tracking/convergence problem which makes it very hard to see the ball and then react quickly enough to catch it. Their eyes don't focus as quickly as they should. Just a nano-second makes a big difference. The one exception to this aversion to sports has been tennis and this is mostly because our homeschool group has tennis lessons every fall and spring, so the kids get to hang out with their friends. The instructors are great and have worked with us for years. Basically they treat it as a PE class, so it is low pressure but lots of fun and lots of exercise.
Because I get nervous about us sitting around getting out of shape, I tend to overplan lots of physical stuff and then it gets overwhelming having to get kids to and fro and interferes a lot with our weekend plans. So I think this year I'm going to try to rely on really basic things: lots of walks/hikes, our elliptical machine, tennis classes, swing dancing, a once a week karate class for Josh and Sean at the local rec center. At the same time, Will wants to do weight lifting at the same location. B has been begging me for ice skating lessons so I guess I am going to sign her up for a session of that.
So here's the breakdown for the whole family, person by person:
R - he says he'll join me in that Walk to Rivendell challenge that I've seen around the internet. I need to get a pedometer for each of us. Since we have Tillie now we need to walk her anyway, so hopefully once she gets a little older we can go for some longer walks with her.
R could also do some biking with the kids this fall.
Encourage each other to use the elliptical when the weather gets cold or rainy.
R was going to start doing push ups again. He used to be really good at push ups!
H - Hopefully they'll be once a month swing dances for the teen group and hopefully this will encourage lots of swing dance practices. I had H signed up for tennis last spring and she really wasn't into it. I don't think I can force her this coming fall. If she does, it will be great but I'm not counting on it. H does like to walk so maybe she'll be doing some of that. But really I think she needs a regular exercise routine like at a gym. We were signed up at Curves but stopped going. Maybe though she can find a girlfriend to go with her a couple times a week. If she could get into a regular habit with that, I think it would really benefit her. I think she'd sleep better, eat better, feel less moody and in general just have a better sense of well being. She just needs to stick to a routine for say 3 months in order to really feel the benefits. Who am I to speak, though. I never stick to anything exercise-wise either.
W - Well, since Will got this recommendation from the psychologist, I think we really need to emphasize daily exercise with Will. He has gone through phases in the past where he's lifted weights a couple of times a day (short 5 minute bouts). He also likes to walk and bike. I get nervous about biking around here since the roads are windy and narrow and people drive like demons. But he is 16 years old now, and getting ready to get his driver's license, so hopefully his judgment is good. If he takes his bike into the neighborhood across the dangerously busy and windy road, he'll be pretty safe to bike. So he can work in biking, walking, jogging, elliptical (he does this sometimes while watching TV anyway). He also likes to swing dance, mows the lawn and does all the heavy lifting around here. He wants to take a weight lifting class at the rec center too. Also, he enjoys the tennis classes. He plays ultimate frisbee every Wed. before his CLC class though I don't think he works very hard at it. In the winter the CLC boys go into the school gym and shoot hoops. Will wasn't very good at this but I noticed the few times that I picked him up instead of H that he was in there dribbling the ball and trying to shoot baskets with the rest of the boys.
J - J has been coming with me Bluebird Monitoring at the nearby nature center/park. This entails about an hour of hiking up and down hills and along the river. But he doesn't do much more that. He is willing to do the once a week karate class as well as the tennis classes. In addition to his he can hike with us and ride his bike with Will and R.
S - S was so into gymnastics last year. He was amazing! But he has dropped it like a hot coal. I just can't figure that kids sometimes. He doesn't want to sign up for it in the fall and he really doesn't want to do karate anymore. I think though I am going to insist on the karate. I really like the approach in the class. It is very non-competitive but they really get those kids excercising. The boys are wiped out afterward an hour of intensive hours. But that is good! And I have to figure out how to get all this done with a minimal amount of driving. If we do Karate that's 3 kids who are taken care of (J, S at karate and W at weight lifting) and maybe B and I can do something at the same time there. Don't know what.
B - doesn't want to do gymnastics either. She really lost her enthusiasm for it because S kind of took it over. She wants ice skating and I guess I'd better give it to her! I also want to really focus on getting her riding her bike without training wheels. I think all our other kids were fairly confident bike riders by the age of 7 but since Rick's hip was so bad and then his operation, he hasn't really focused on her and he's the one who does the biking in the family.
So givens this fall: tennis (W, J, S &B), karate (J,S), ice skating (B), biking (R, W, J, S & B), walking/hiking (all).
Somethings that might also happen:
Sometimes the homeschool group has a pick up kickball game at the park on certain days on nice days. We used to attend pretty regularly. S and J enjoyed this and sometimes B.
The new homeschooling support group I joined was talking about having a PE time once a week. The kids in that group tend to be young but that might be something that we could attend.
There is a homeschool gymnastics program that I might look into. I think it is on Mondays at 2 or something. That's a little early. That is when I was hoping to get art lessons in, but maybe we can work around that.
Once a month we'll be going on fieldtrips which will probably entail some walking. I am also hoping that we attend lots of stuff at the same park where we do our Bluebird Monitoring and that could include a couple nature hikes a month until the winter weather moves in.
I'm thinking about getting the kids Wiifit for Christmas. They love anything videogamish. Last winter they got really into Wiitennis and Wii bowling, now there's something new out???? I'll have to check into it. Anyway, it sounds like something that would be great for those dark winter months.